Being a high school student is THE WORST*. I bet you you can’t show me one adult who has to juggle homework, a menial part-time job, standardized testing exams, club meetings, and compulsory sports practice. Believe me, I get it. I wouldn’t want to do my homework either if I were you. But not wanting to do something, isn’t the same as not having to do something, so you might as well embrace the project and figure out the easiest way to get it all done. With so many demands on your time and energy, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Try these SEVEN simple strategies to reduce your risk of a homework meltdown.
*JUST KIDDING. Try filling out complicated grownup taxes, then come talk to me. In the meantime, click HERE to get a terrifying glimpse of your adult future.
1) Make A Plan For The Week
Although it’s a lot easier to pretend that 12-page research paper isn’t due next Friday, all that kind of avoidance does is put you on the express train to a homework meltdown. So, don’t be avoidant. Chart out your week so there are no surprises. If one day has a heavier load of homework, projects or exams, plan to transfer some of that stuff to one of your lighter days. With a schedule in hand, you won’t feel overly stressed when your work starts to pile up because you’ll know it’s coming and you’ll be able to plan accordingly.
2) Start With The Easiest Task First
It’s been scientifically proven that there is no greater pleasure in life than crossing something off a To-Do list, so get yourself rolling by starting with the easy stuff. Sometimes it only takes a little bit of progress to feel like you’ve got everything under control. By letting your momentum build up, you’ll be ready to take on the big and difficult tasks before you know it.
3) Use Rewards
Strive to be this dog. Save your screen time or favorite snacks for after you’ve accomplished something. Stay focused but reward yourself for making progress. ZenHabits suggests, “Do your work NOW rather than later.” That’s easier said than done but training your brain with positive reinforcement may help you get up and over that mountain of procrastination.
4) Use your Saturdays
Everybody knows that Saturdays are AMAZING. Sundays are nice but the looming threat of Monday morning ensures that Saturday reigns supreme. However, sometimes the benefits of getting a head start on your homework outweigh the morale drawbacks of sacrificing your day off. If you crack open your course books on a Saturday, you can work at a more leisurely pace, and if you manage to make meaningful progress, all the other days of the week won’t be nearly as painful.
5) Ask for Help
If you’re feeling consistently frustrated or confused by a particular subject, don’t be afraid to get help. Teachers LOVE IT when a student reaches out before things get dire. Talk to your teacher, get a tutor or join a study group. NOTE: this is helpful for high school but absolutely essential for college. You might as well get in the habit now.
6) Get exercise
At moments of peak stress, it’s easy to think that the best way out is to turn yourself into a computer. It’s as though people thing that if they stay indoors and sit very, very still for hours at a time, they’ll somehow discover the secret to absolute recall and perfect reasoning. Sorry there, kiddo, but you’re a human and you have a body and that body requires basic maintenance, one component of which is exercise. Exercise relieves stress. It also gets the blood pumping which can help clear mental cobwebs. Going for a quick walk or jog might be just the thing you need to get your work done without falling apart mentally and physically.
All-nighters are the secret weapon of the overworked high school student, but you may be doing more harm than good—and by a wide margin. Doctors have shown that sleep deprivation causes a loooooooong list of really terrible side effects. While it may be tempting to squeeze in a couple more hours of study time, resist the urge. Trust your body and sleep when you need to. Clear your head with a quick power nap or call it a night and start again in the morning. I guarantee you’ll understand whatever you’re working on better in the morning anyway.
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