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15 Habits to Develop for Back to School

15 Habits to Develop for Back to School


    Are you going back to school this year with the best intentions in mind?

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    Or are you on the opposite end, dreading the year because of how much of a grind school can be?

    As a high school teacher and former teaching assistant for Queen’s University, I’ve seen and experienced both.

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    However, school can be a great experience if you develop some habits that will make your life easier. Listed below are some habits that I’ve learned from some amazing teachers, professors, students and the invaluable wisdom of the contributing authors of Lifehack.

    These are all simple habits that require little time, but have a huge payoff.

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    Getting Organized

    1. One Folder (or Binder) for Each Class– At the end of each day, put all your notes and handouts in one folder, or binder, for each class. This takes less than a minute to do and will save you endless headaches when you need to find course material.
    2. Plan Your Day the Night Before – Spend a few minutes to write your to-do list for the next day. When you wake up, you’ll know exactly what needs to get done.
    3. Use a Calendar – Doesn’t matter if it’s digital, wall-mounted or the one you get in your student agenda. Use it and refer to it!

    In the Classroom

    1. Show Up to Class (On Time) – Missing class requires you to put in twice the amount of effort to catch up. Even if you really don’t feel like it, show up.
    2. Take Useful Notes – Useful things to note: arguments, examples and answers to problems. Don’t get caught trying to make your notes look pretty. The more time you spend with different coloured pens and underlining, the less focused you are on the content of the class. This also applies to digital notes.
    3. Drop the Excuses – I assure you that teachers and professors have heard every excuse, numerous times. Stop spending time crafting excuses and just be honest.

    Finances

    1. Pack Your Lunch – Schools make it easy for you to buy your lunch every day. Packing your lunch will help you eat better (hopefully) and save you money (which will probably go towards your weekend adventures). Speaking of which…
    2. Leave your Plastic at Home – Learn to live on cash when you go out. It’s very easy to get carried away with the spending when you’re having a good time with your friends.
    3. Always Think Long Term – Money is typically abundant at the beginning of the year and super tight by the end. Figure out how much you need in a month and make sure you have that for the last month of school. I’ve seen too many students attempt the $50 challenge (making $50 last an entire month) because it’s all they have left.

    Assignments & Homework

    1. Plan Your Assignments and Work in Chunks – You do not work better the night before an assignment is due – that’s an excuse for your procrastination. Plan ahead and take on your assignments in pieces.
    2. Drink Lots of Water – Drinking water while working helps with your concentration better than loads of caffeine.
    3. Throw Away Your Highlighter – A professor during my first year of University recommended this to me and I haven’t looked back. When reading, write notes to yourself along the margins. Dialogue with what is written, ask questions and mark up the assigned reading like it’s your job. Your notes will tell you why particular parts are important to you.

    Keeping Your Sanity

    1. Go for Daily Walks by Yourself – Spend time every day unwinding and gathering your thoughts. The exercise will also do you good.
    2. Isolate Yourself While Working – Close the door to your room, find an empty carrel in the library or work at a coffee shop away from school. Pick a place where your friends cannot find you in order to eliminate those distractions which keep you from getting your work done. However, when you work hard, you should also…
    3. Socialize Often – Find groups, or people, with similar interests and make it a point to get together during the week. Spending time with friends will help prevent burnout. Just make sure to hang out during your down time and not when you should be working, or in class.

    The important thing to keep in mind is that you strike a work/life balance. This means focusing on school when it’s needed and focusing on life when it comes charging your way. Both will knock you down, but taking time to build good habits will help you deal with almost anything that comes your way.

    Further Reading

    For the ambitious, I found the following books to be invaluable resources to both my educational and professional career.

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    Good luck to you this year!

    (Photo credit: Education Book on Table in Library via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on November 19, 2019

    20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

    20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

    Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

    If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:

    1. Create a Daily Plan

    Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.

    2. Peg a Time Limit to Each Task

    Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.

    3. Use a Calendar

    Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.

    I use it. It’s even better if you can sync your calendar to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are. Here’re the 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track .

    Find out more tips about how to use calendar for better time management here: How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

    4. Use an Organizer

    An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.

    These Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools can help you organize better, pick one that fits your needs.

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    5. Know Your Deadlines

    When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.

    But make sure you don’t make these 10 Common Mistakes When Setting Deadlines.

    6. Learn to Say “No”

    Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.

    Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

    7. Target to Be Early

    When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.

    For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

    Learn from these tips about how to prepare yourself to be early, instead of just in time.

    8. Time Box Your Activities

    This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? Here’re 10 reasons why you should start time-boxing.

    You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: #5 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity.

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    9. Have a Clock Visibly Placed Before You

    Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.

    10. Set Reminders 15 Minutes Before

    Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.

    You can learn more about how reminders help you remember everything in this article: The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    11. Focus

    Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.

    Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.

    Lifehack’s CEO has written a definitive guide on how to focus, learn the tips: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

    12. Block out Distractions

    What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?

    I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.

    When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.

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    Find more tips on how to minimize distractions to achieve more in How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done

    13. Track Your Time Spent

    When you start to track your time, you’re more aware of how you spend your time. For example, you can set a simple countdown timer to make sure that you finish a task within a period of time, say 30 minutes or 1 hour. The time pressure can push you to stay focused and work more efficiently.

    You can find more time tracking apps here and pick one that works for you.

    14. Don’t Fuss About Unimportant Details

    You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.

    Trying to be perfect does you more harm than good, learn here about how perfectionism kills your productivity and how to ditch the perfectionism mindset.

    15. Prioritize

    Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.

    Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

    16. Delegate

    If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.

    When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. Learn about how to effectively delegate works in this guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

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    17. Batch Similar Tasks Together

    For related work, batch them together.

    For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:

    1. writing (articles, my upcoming book)
    2. coaching
    3. workshop development
    4. business development
    5. administrative

    I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.

    18. Eliminate Your Time Wasters

    What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.

    One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.

    While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.

    19. Cut off When You Need To

    The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.

    Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.

    20. Leave Buffer Time In-Between

    Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

    More Time Management Techniques

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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