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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 January 21, 2020

    The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

    The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

    Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

    your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

      Why You Need a Vision

      Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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      How to Create Your Life Vision

      Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

      What Do You Want?

      The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

      It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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      Some tips to guide you:

      • Remember to ask why you want certain things
      • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
      • Give yourself permission to dream.
      • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
      • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

      Some questions to start your exploration:

      • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
      • What would you like to have more of in your life?
      • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
      • What are your secret passions and dreams?
      • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
      • What do you want your relationships to be like?
      • What qualities would you like to develop?
      • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
      • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
      • What would you most like to accomplish?
      • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

      It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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      What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

      Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

      A few prompts to get you started:

      • What will you have accomplished already?
      • How will you feel about yourself?
      • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
      • What does your ideal day look like?
      • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
      • What would you be doing?
      • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
      • How are you dressed?
      • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
      • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
      • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

      It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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      Plan Backwards

      It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

      • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
      • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
      • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
      • What important actions would you have had to take?
      • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
      • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
      • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
      • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
      • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

      Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

      It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

      Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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