“I completely forgot I had to finish that by Friday!”
“It’s going to have to be another all nighter….”
“How am I going to get through ALL of this?”
Most of us have probably uttered at least one of these phrases in relation to the sea of unfinished work and swiftly approaching deadlines students are often drowning in. At first, it can feel exasperating to manage. But with the right guidance, you’ll be able to successfully tackle those colossal workloads, excel in your studies and stay on top of everything stress-free (well, almost). Here are my six top tips:
Make a Schedule:
People are productive at different times of day. Some find it easiest to study in the morning, whilst others prefer working in the late afternoons or quiet hours of the evenings. Whenever you find yourself most alert is when you should do your most important or difficult work while saving easier assignments for another time. Committing to study periods at a similar time each day will help you to work efficiently and cut down that to-do list.
It’s also important for study blocks to be manageable. Keep sessions short and intense - working for hours is counter-productive and will likely compromise focus and quality. Remember to review and amend your schedule each week to make sure it aligns with various deadlines. This will make it easier to stick to as well as manage longer-term assignments.
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Create the Ideal Study Space:
Cascading mountains of books, pens and highlighters everywhere, papers littered across the floor, empty cups living on the windowsill - sound familiar? Keep things organised. Invest in small storage units for your desk where you can keep your stationery, put back books you’re not using and do a quick clean at the end of the day. This way, you can think more clearly in a tidy space and won’t waste precious study time looking for the things you need!
Secondly, remove any potential distractions. While it is not always true that teenagers are addicted to their phones, it’s still best to leave these elsewhere and silence notifications. If you’re using a laptop, try to avoid visiting irrelevant sites particularly social media ones where it’s easy to become preoccupied without realising it.
Finally, as tempting as it may be, playing your favourite songs to keep you motivated is a massive no-no. Classical music is fine and has actually been shown to improve concentration but anything with lyrics has a hugely adverse effect.
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Pay Attention in Class:
Focusing and trying your best in classes is the first step towards working effectively at home. This way, it is likely you will have a better grasp of the material before revising. Also take the opportunity to ask your teachers for clarification - they are there to help! As a result, you can spend more of your study time consolidating your understanding or completing an assignment rather than trying to figure out information from scratch.
You may also notice how teachers emphasise particular topics by spending additional time discussing and explaining them. This could give you a clue about the specific areas or concepts that are most likely to appear in exam papers which will help allocate your time when studying at home - knowing what to focus on saves you from wasting time on less significant material and helps you concentrate on what will pick up the points in tests.
Take advantage of Online Resources:
It’s easy to come out of class feeling lost after a complex lesson. Consider YouTube as a second teacher. With thousands of videos containing straightforward explanations, simple diagrams and even exam style questions, this educational channel is indispensable. If you’re dubious, check out the comments: “This teacher saved my exams” and “I’ve learnt more in 5 minutes than 45 minutes in class!” are comments written by many a grateful student.
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Give yourself a Break:
Studying for long hours on end is likely to be counterproductive. Without proper breaks, concentration will wane and the quality of your work will be compromised. This is the time to fit in those extra-curricular activities, favourite hobbies or just take a moment to rest with some relaxing TV or music.
This should re-energize your brain and refresh your motivation to get back to the grind. Having delicious snacks at hand is also a great way to rejuvenate yourself during a study session. Healthy food is ideal, but less nutritious options are a good pick-me-up now and again. If you have been working hard, a few chocolate cookies will not go amiss.
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Make Time for Sleep:
It is common knowledge that sleep is crucial for good school performance. Sleep helps to fuel your brain and body and promotes attention, memory and analytical thought. Teenagers in particular need extra sleep because their minds and bodies are growing quickly.
Early school starts and jam-packed days make getting enough a massive challenge. Try to get to sleep early on school nights and avoid caffeine and screens before bedtime. Quiet activities such as reading, stretching or a hot bath are great for winding down the day.
What’s important is to establish a good nighttime routine that helps you get the rest you need. So next time you think about pulling an all-nighter, don’t do it.
Hopefully, these tips will help you successfully navigate the growing demands of high school as the years roll by. Managing your time well, being organised and working smart are all skills worth honing that will be useful throughout life. Finally, remember to reach out to your teachers or parents for support if the workload is becoming too much for you and leading to stress and anxiety.