Everyone knows that snow melts. Whether you have some fun, build a snowman, and have a snowball fight, or you just sit by and watch, the snow will always melt. This same idea applies to time. You can use it to accomplish your tasks and create something awesome, or you can watch it tick by. Similar to snow, no matter how you use it, or if you even use it at all, time melts away. Might as well figure out how to use it to your advantage, right?
This first half of navigating high school and getting into the swing of things has given me the opportunity to develop ways to succeed and dominate the next two years using all I have learned! So, as the new school year draws closer and closer, I wanted to start sharing some helpful tips I’ve learned throughout my first two years of high school such as time management, study strategies, reducing stress, and more.
How, you may ask, did I figure out I needed to come up with strategies? Well, freshman year, I got away with cruising by because it was an easier year, but last year as a sophomore, things went a little differently! I took harder classes and had a lot more homework, projects, and presentations. I needed to figure out the best way to manage my time, so I wasn’t overwhelmed with huge amounts of stress and work.
It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it”
Throughout the year, I found the strategies of time management that best worked for me and my schedule. I eventually found 7 awesome ways to effectively manage my time and they helped my reduce stress, get more work done, balance my time, and have overall success in my classes.
1. Plan Your Week Ahead
The tools that I’ve found to be very important to the way I manage time are my various calendars. Plural because I use an academic paper planner and a wall calendar. Using both of these makes a huge impact on my schedule because it manages my events for the week and month so I don’t overload, gives me sense of what’s going to happen so I can plan my work accordingly, and overall just decreases stress! So, my biggest piece of advice is to get one or both of these things and ACTUALLY USE IT and commit to planning ahead.
2. Manage MITs
Your Most Important Tasks (MITs) need to be prioritized! If there’s a task that will have bigger consequences if not done, then do it first! The little tasks are easy to cram in whenever, but MITs need to be done correctly and fully.
- For example, if you have a class where you have a project due or a test, that’s probably a MIT. But let’s say you also have to read some chapters of a book or have practice problems, those are smaller tasks and are not as important (still do them, but put them last!). In this case, you would need to prioritize the MITs over the rest of your work.
3. Create Time Blocks
Struggling with not getting everything done? Staying up way too late to get work finished? Well, I always find myself in those situations and the thing that helps me the most is blocking out sections of my time.
Let’s use homework as an example. With more demanding and harder classes, I end up getting a lot of homework sometimes and I know I have a lot, so I try to just jam through everything at once. THIS DOES NOT WORK! All this accomplishes is burn-out, stress, tiredness, and a little confusion of blending things together. How do I even avoid this?
- Again, chunking time is the best. Assess what you have to do and create “block” of work to do. For example: “I’ll read chapters 17-21. Take a 10 minute break. Then do my chapter summary outline and quotes. After, I’ll take a shower for a little longer break. Then last, I’ll write my short essay.” I always use this strategy when I’m feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or have a lot to do! Trust me, it seriously helps.
4. Sanction Relaxation
One of the most important things you can do is sanction time between and after tasks to step back and take a break. Trying to get everything done at once and in one chunk of time, will never work out! Overworking yourself will only lead to a production of half-effort work and stress. So, take breaks and step back from your work then come back to it.
Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two breaths”
5. Stop Being A Perfectionist
I am definitely the kind of person who needs every detail to be perfect on projects, papers assignments, and pretty much anything else. Most of the time, that works out for me and I get things done the way I want, however, last year, I had an awakening to the idea that not everything can be perfect all the time!
Sometimes, the best thing you can do for yourself is to put half your effort into something not as important to make the more important things you need to do perfect. I’m NOT saying only give a half-hearted effort all the time, rather, only when there’s physically not enough time in the day.
- For example, I had a few days PACKED with homework and I had to ignore the perfectionist in me to get things done: It was already late at night and I had to read and annotate about five chapters of a book for English (usually takes me an hour to read & fully annotate). Then after that, I had to write a short essay. I thought, there’s no way I can this all done and get to bed at a decent time for tomorrow! Not going to lie, I cried a little because I was stressed. Well, in order to finish the essay which was way more important, I scanned the chapter, read some online summaries, and called it good for the time being.
It hurt me a little to know I didn’t do my best on a task, but sometimes life’s going to get busy and sometimes the only way you can get everything done is to ignore your inner perfectionist and settle for what time allows you to accomplish.
6. Block Out Distractions
I know when I’m doing work that I really don;t want to do, it’s super easy to get myself distracted from work. Obviously, this is bad and takes time away from you, so your work drags on and on and on. I do this so often, it’s not even funny: I’ll be doing math homework then somehow end up playing 5 levels of Fishdom and wasting half an hour… Oops!
You can’t do big things if you’re distracted by small things”
I know how hard it is to ignore your Instagram feed, games, TikToks, or whatever you use, but BE STRONG! Or if you’re like me and can’t block out distraction, physically move them. When I’m doing work that I know will take me a long time and needs my full attention, I move my phone and earbuds out of my room so I‘m not even tempted. And it totally works! So, block out those distracting elements near you and get stuff done.
7. Take Advantage Of Extra Time
If I didn’t take advantage of the extra time I had throughout my day, my academic life would have taken over my at home life! Like virtually every student, I hate having to do homework in my time away from school. One of the ways I avoid this for more me time, is to find the extra time throughout my day and exploit it!
- For example, I have classes where I get my work done early for the day or we’re waiting for others to finish before moving on. In these weird little spots of time, I look around and people are playing games, scrolling through social media, or staring off into space, but not me. I use this chunks of free time to finish work from other classes and get a jump start on my homework and once I get home, I am glad I did!
Now I don’t have these opportunities everyday, but I look for those time blocks whenever I can and it usually results in me getting even more work done.
These are the ways that worked for me…
Some of these strategies may or may not work out great for you depending on your life and schedule. Discovering methods of managing my time was one of the most beneficial things I learned last year and I can be apply them throughout my life in the future. I hope this insight helped you a little bit, inspired you to find way that make you happy, or at least be a little less stressed.