"This is what it takes to succeed."
A phrase that you constantly tell yourself to justify adding one more item to your to-do list. It takes multiple AP classes. It takes hundreds of volunteer hours. It takes skipping meals. It takes missing a family event to finish your homework. It takes staying up late or pulling all-nighters. It takes and it takes and it takes.
It takes, but there is only so much that can be given until, eventually, you crash. The goal is to take measures to avoid getting too close to the edge and finding yourself caught in the flames. All students wish to succeed, but in doing so, it's important to understand how not to burn out.
I don't claim that every tip here will be for everyone. Some may work, others may not. It is not a guarantee, but it is an effort and that is what matters.
1. Take a 24-hour break
This is definitely the one that has helped me the most during my time in school. Clear at least 24 consecutive hours in your schedule with no obligations, no homework. Busy your mind to make sure you're not thinking about either! It will help you recharge and get ready for the next onslaught of items on your to-do list.
2. Stay Well-Rested
This has to be the most difficult for students to accomplish. The amount of work a student is given often seems endless and surely interferes with sleep, but sleep is possible. It's all about self-discipline. Try doing work as soon as possible to avoid late nights, but when these late nights inevitably come around, avoid staying up past midnight. It isn't worth feeling groggy and tired the next day. If you do go past your limit, make time for a good nap the next day.
3. Organize Your Week
Whether physical or digital, keep a planner near you at all times. Write down everything that you would like to accomplish on a particular day. Underline or highlight anything that needs to be done first and, for those assignments that don't have a set deadline, write down when you would like to get to work. Try to do this the night before or early in the morning to help set up a good routine.
4. Talk to Your Professor
If, at the end of the week, you realize that you won't be able to finish an assignment, talk to your professor and ask for an extension. It can be frightening to do so, but it is better than never trying. Most teachers will be considerate if you properly explain your predicament— remember that they chose their job to help students succeed. Once you have an extension, the temporary weight off your shoulders will give you the opportunity to take a deep breath.
5. Take a Break Outside
If you ever feel like throwing your homework across the room, a nice walk outside might just be the thing. Nature is known to help calm you down, so, if you'd like some company, bring along a sibling, a parent, or a friend. The point is to get out of the house and breathe in the fresh air. Taking a walk has innumerable benefits to your body and your mind. Once you come back inside, you may just have some new ideas to put down into writing!
6. Eat Proper Meals
In the midst of a busy week, one might forget that eating is essential for the human body to function. People, especially students, need a well-balanced diet in order to get through the day. Eating only snacks, such as chips or a nut bar, won't and shouldn't replenish your energy. It's okay if you're not a breakfast person (I'm not!)— just make sure to have something in the morning to get you going. However, make sure to plan out an established lunch & dinner. This will make sure your brain stays focused on the task at hand, not the wafting smell of the cafe next door.
7. Do Something that Makes You Happy
As the school year progresses and your schedule fills up with commitments, make sure one of those colorful reminders is a favorite hobby. It is important for you to enjoy your year, and doing something you love will certainly help improve it.
So put your work aside, turn up your favorite song, and dance like a maniac! Or perhaps your joy comes from cleaning or playing video games. If it is available to you, join a club at school that does just that. It will improve your mood and the absolute best memories will come from them!
8. Spend Time with Family & Friends
Spending time with the people who love you the most will 100% bring out the best in you. Compared to the stuffiness and loneliness of your room, it'll feel like a breath of fresh air. Yes, some may be irritating sometimes, but when the work is done, they'll be the ones standing at your graduation. Make time for them. If you need to rant to someone, they are the ones who will be hanging on to every word. They will be there for you as much as you'll be there for them.
9. Ponder and Reflect
Ask yourself, "Is this too much?" The more ambitious of us will perhaps say that it can never be too much and that we can handle it. That, frankly, is a lie. A person who decides to do ten extracurricular activities, take all AP classes, work a part-time job, and consistently volunteer at multiple organizations will very likely burn out.
No human being can handle a list of a thousand different items. It's important to reflect on what you've been doing and see if it's worth it. Has it helped you achieve something? If it has, has this made you sacrifice something important to you? Was the sacrifice worth it? If the majority of the answers are no, then a change has to be made. Review your schedule and take something off. It isn't giving up if the result helps you become better.
10. Search the Internet for Relatable Posts
This is something that has helped me so much because, in the midst of a busy life, it can definitely get lonely. You might feel as if you're the only person going through this exhausting cycle called life, but you're not. You never will be. Millions of students join in on the feeling every second of every day across the world.
I believe that the best way to combat this loneliness is through relatable posts. These may be on Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Tumblr, or in a simple Google search. They'll make you laugh or cry in relief that someone out there at one point has gone through something similar and has prevailed.
THIS is what it takes to succeed. It takes putting time aside to take care of yourself in order to not burn out. A thousand activities aren't needed or required. All the world asks of you is to do your best and that is enough. Enough to get through today and the countless tomorrows you're about to have.