Fall’s right around the corner, and you know what that means: back to school. This time of year is dreaded by most students but since we all have to go back whether we like it or not, we might as well find some ways to make the most out of it. After all, education in itself is a good and beneficial thing; it’s just a matter of learning how to swallow knowledge at the rate that school feeds it to us.
Now that part can be very difficult indeed but there are certain things we can do that can help us better manage the transition from blissful summer back into the harsh reality of school. Here are three ways in which you can make this year as pain-free and successful as possible!
Tip #1: Make a Plan
Last year, I nearly failed two tests within the first couple weeks of school simply because I wasn’t prepared- I’d totally forgotten that they were even happening, and had not studied at all. This year, I’m determined not to make the same mistakes. It’s important to go into school with the necessary materials and the necessary mindset. This looks for different for everyone, depending on what makes you the most confident and prepared.
Setting goals, short term and long term, is one of the most common and effective ways of implementing some direction into your school year. What do you want to achieve and accomplish this year? Is it a specific grade? Joining a new club? Improving at a sport? Polishing a skill? Whatever goals you have in mind, jot them down; then narrow down your brainstormed list and choose the goals you really want to accomplish to focus on.
Setting goals, short term and long term, is one of the most common and effective ways of implementing some direction into your school year.”
Another strategy that could help add structure and predictability (and therefore less stress) to your everyday life is to create a flexible routine. Since homework loads and extracurricular activities can vary day to day, try creating a routine on a weekly or daily, rather than hourly basis. For example, you could plan to always clean your room on Sundays, take time to relax on Fridays and work out on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Knowing what you need to do for each day can help you feel more stable and save you from wasting time!
Some examples of planning tools you can use to keep your goals and routines in check include planners, poster boards, online documents, reminders and apps. What matters most is that you find some way of organizing your life that works for you, and stick with it throughout the year!
Tip #2: Relax, You’re Allowed to Take Breaks
When we don’t get any treats, we feel depleted, resentful, and angry and we feel justified in self-indulgence. We start to crave comfort – and grab that comfort wherever we can, even if it means breaking good habits.” – Gretchen Rubin
Along the lines of creating a routine, make sure to give yourself regular breaks and rewards. At the end of the day if all your life is comprised of is work, work and more work, it’s downright unhealthy. Your energy, happiness and even productivity levels will drop. To combat this, make it a part of your routine to take time for yourself.
Treat yourself right. Cut out the negativity. Take care of your body and mind by doing things that make you genuinely feel awesome. Try your best to form healthy, positive habits that make you look forward to everyday. As difficult as it may sound, it is possible to pursue your goals and to enjoy all the little bits of your life along the way. The magic word: balance.
Tip #3: Aim for Greatness, Not Perfection
Something that I used to do all the time during my back-to-school prep was to tell myself that this year, I was going to have the best year ever. Every September was a brand new page for me, followed by ten months, during which, I was sure I would be able to undergo a complete transformation from last year. This year, I’d get perfect grades, make more friends, join more clubs, speak up more in class, and volunteer in all my spare time. This year, I would finally become the high-functioning model student of my dreams.
Except, that never happened. By setting these impossible standards for myself, I was only setting myself up for disappointment. I told myself that this was my chance to become ‘perfect’ and even the positive things that I did manage to accomplish, earning good marks and learning important life lessons, paled in comparison to what I’d dreamed of.
The truth is, neither you nor I will ever have the ‘best year ever’- it doesn’t exist for anyone. All we can do (will do, I believe in us) is our best. Work hard, but be reasonable. Remember that school’s not everything and that a lot of the time, the lessons you learn from mistakes and ‘failure’ are a lot more valuable than percentages on a piece of paper. This year, make greatness the goal, not perfection.