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Setting up Routines for High School

Do you know how you actually spend your time?

Gone are the days of my high school life when I was waiting for the bus, I would pick up my book and read. Now you can fill your time with Facebook, Vine, Snapchat, read through your texts, Tweet, take 10000 selfies of what you would look like with and without bangs. And before you know it, that project that was due two weeks from now is due tomorrow. There is no possible way you can get it done in time so you fake a stomachache and stay home to finish the project. How did this happen? You started the year off awesome! You wrote all the due dates in that school planner, you started reading ahead, heck, you even took a pre-course course for your hardest classes! But now you are so behind, you are looking forward to thanksgiving break so you can “catch up.”

Don’t worry, all is not lost. You can catch up before Thanksgiving. Here are a few things you can do in order to better manage your time.

For the next two days, start a log of all the things you do and how much time you spend on them. Yes, every. single. thing. Log how much time you are on Facebook, youtube, etc., how much time you spend eating, attending a class, talking on the phone, watching TV, assignments. Everything!!! There is no judgment here, don’t try to change anything you do in your normal day just yet… For instance: 7am-7:18 am wake up check instagram, get dressed 7:18-7:30 am- eat breakfast and check facebook, check emails 7:30-7:40 am- ride to school with mom, check vine, make a snapchat of my mom lecturing me 7:40-7:45am- get my books from locker and go to class class (1.5 hours) lunch- eat lunch with my friends and talk about the snapchats we posted this morning class (30 minutes) …… and so on throughout the day.

This exercise should be really eye opening to how you spend your time. Even while studying, you may be spending way more time completing a project than estimated. Look at your daily log inventory to make serious changes. For example, where in your schedule can you completely put away your smart phone and social media and actually focus on completing your tasks? Now that you’ve found all this time you can fill, let’s fill it productively! Write in your planner: Are you just writing due dates in your planner? If so, that’s a great start.

Yes, I said start. Go back and read over the assignments, estimate how much time each one is going to take you and block out times to complete before the due dates. This includes writing down when you should start studying for finals and midterms, ideally starting to review at least 3 weeks in advance of your final.

Make a to-do list daily: This should include your study times and goals for you to complete. Once you’ve completed it, check it off! Do this daily to manage your daily schedules and track if your goals. Also take some work with you to use your downtime, like waiting for your ride or riding the bus to school, as an opportunity to get some studying out of the way.

Create a space to work: Find a designated area to study and to get work done. It may be your room, the dining table, or your patio. Wherever it is, make sure you are free from distractions. That means turning off your phone, logging off Facebook and email, turning off the TV, or not sitting where your siblings are watching their TV shows. (You know you’re watching them too). This space should be a place where you feel comfortable, but not too comfortable (you don’t want to fall asleep just yet!).

Foster healthy habits: What are healthy habits? It means eating well, drinking lots of fluids and getting enough exercise and sleep. Eating well—more fruits and veggies and limit your boba and candy, coffee/soda and chips intake. Your brain needs food not caffeine and sugar. Drink lots of water. Get enough exercise. Spend some time doing something active that doesn’t include a screen of some sort. It can be as simple as taking a 15-minute walk around the neighborhood. Do some stretches each morning and night and during study breaks to refocus and get your blood flowing and muscles relaxed.

Get enough sleep: Gasp!! Is that such a thing, enough sleep!?!? No I don’t mean sleep in until 12noon on the weekend and “catch up” on rest you missed out on during the week. Manage your time so that you are in bed and getting at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep. There is no reason for you to be up until 3am and 4am doing homework or watching movies, chatting with your friends. There has been lots of research about how teens really need more sleep and it might take you longer to wind down each day.

Finally, schedule in some fun time. Make sure your day consists of something you really enjoy. This may be playing video games for 1 hour, making those snapchats, watching youtube, making those yummy cupcakes. Try sticking with this plan for a week and see how you like it. See how your mind feels, how you’re doing in class and after a few weeks, I promise, you will catch up!

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