A Student’s Guide to Time Management

Last school year, I was a fairly average example of a high school student: if something was due Monday, I was sure to get it done by Sunday night. I might need to stay up until 1 AM and consume some sort of caffeinated beverage, but I’d get it done. Almost all of my student friends follow this same model of procrastination. Some say it works best for them, that their best work is done under pressure, and/or they can’t focus during the week. This school year, though, things changed for me in some major ways, and I think most students would appreciate this shift taking placing in their own life, even if it seems ridiculously impossible at this point. (Before I go on, I must clarify that I am homeschooled and basically attend a one-day school/co-op, but some of my methods will benefit students of all sorts.)

Since the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year in September, I have not done homework on a weekend. Sounds great, right? Since mid-October, however, I have not done homework on a Friday. And since early December, homework on Thursday has actually been a bit of a rarity.

Let me calm your fears before I go on. Yes, I do my homework, I study well, and none of my grades are lower than an 85% (which, particularly in a class like chemistry, is fine by me). I don’t skip more homework than most kids already do, and I’m learning thoroughly; yet, homework doesn’t loom over me constantly.

How is this possible? I’m honestly not too sure. It started as an accountability plan with one of my best friends, but at this point, it has grown way beyond what I hoped for, and he and I don’t really talk about it anymore. (I’ll also add that accountability partners have never been much of a help to me, but teachers as a form of accountability have majorly kept me on track during my high school years so far.)

As much of a mystery this is to me, there are still a few things that I know helped. I will explain them as Realization, Boxing (because I dislike the word ‘clump’), and Momentum. Parts of these methods will mostly be helpful to students attending the same style school that I do, but even if you’re attending a basic five-day school system, or even university, there will be something for you. And of course, if you’re expecting any success, you must have a good reason, a thought-out why.

Realization

Before you can work up the motivation to attack your homework with Tuesday Gusto, you might have to do some math. Write down your subjects, and think through the weekly workload. How much time per week do you usually spend on the homework for this class? Does the workload vary, stay fairly constant, or diambiate [I’m leaving this word here because my brain thought it meant something, I wanted to say a word that meant ‘ebb and flow,’ but that came out…] between twenty minutes and two hours? It’s okay to make liberal estimates; even these will likely encourage you and give you a dose of reality.

Now that you have your time estimates for each class, add it all together and divide by the number of homework days you have available, excluding the weekend because you should get your rest and sleep is not a mythical concept. For me, I have four days. Once you divide this number and realize that you really only need to work on school stuff for two to three hours a day, four or five days a week, (–it’ll be different for everyone–) you might just decide voluntarily to clump box this into three days instead of four.

Boxing

Draw up a schedule of your school days, take your weekly time estimate, and distribute it. If you’re feeling adventurous, cut out Friday and see what your week would look like if you did just an hour or so more the other days of the week, to make Friday part of a three-day weekend. Simply looking at this on paper can change your work habits overnight.

For me, this looks like packing American history into Tuesday morning and (late) evening, chemistry into Tuesday (early) afternoon, geometry into Wednesday (mostly the afternoon, because the later hours work best for me) and British literature wherever it will fit. Sure, I’m pretty much eating/sleeping/doing homework/going to a church group/working 24/7 (24/2?) those two days, but I like it.

Momentum

If you had four construction projects to work on of a given week, and you knew that each one took about four hours, would you visit each site every day of the week and work on it for an hour? [Not a story problem.] You probably wouldn’t. Okay, so why do we cut our homework up into chunks, then proceed to go after one project, then *hours of Instagram or Facebook scrolling later* to the next project, and then to the next? There’s an argument that this is helpful to keep the information in your head, particularly for math, but I honestly think that idea is for elementary school. Choose a day to do all or most of the homework for a certain class, and power through it in one sitting (with maybe a twenty-minute snack-and-YouTube break). If you need to study it a bit to refresh your memory before a test coming up, the good news is that you’re basically an adult now and you can do things like setting reminders for yourself and, like, have some semblance of organization. Would you like a badge?

Why?

Why finish your homework on Thursday? Because you have something better to do Friday/Saturday/Sunday. My goal is to use my extended weekend for writing, running, practicing piano/ukulele, activities with friends, and reading. Sadly, many weeks, this extra time has mostly been utilized to sleep in, consume entertainment, burn up time on social media; the generation Z usual. There is much room for improvement, but I’m getting there.

Every situation is different, and I know some students are functioning at a level wherein there isn’t even an hour of free time, and this would be an impossible goal. Wherever you are, work to become master over your time, but be content with what you have if that is the best you can do. That’s okay.

A Note on Procrastination

Planning always beats procrastinating. It gives the fulfilling feeling of getting work done, while basically just being a better form of procrastination. However, knowing what you have to get done and how you’ll get it done will easily knock out the ambiguity that keeps us from starting. Have a paper coming up? Outline the steps you’ll have to take to finish it, and you might just find in yourself the motivation to begin. Need to study for a test? Get some index cards and do some color-coding before you write out what you need to remember.

Questions? Comments? Wild success stories? Email me using the form below.

 

 

 

Advertisements

How to Read All the Books On Your To-Be-Read List

If you are a reader or you want to consider yourself a reader (like me) then you probably have a long list of books on your TBR (To Be Read list – it’s a bookworm thing). Here’s how you can get through that humongous list before you die of old age.

1. Take some books off the list.

Okay, I understand that this point is kind of cheating, but a few of those books on your list are only there because a friend guilted you into considering it (that friend being me) or because it sounded cool when you heard of it on NPR in 2015. Run through your list and kick a few off. If you need help, find some criticizing reviews on Goodreads or Amazon.

2. Focus.

Don’t tell yourself “I’m going to read thirteen books this week, I love them all!” (This is a direct quote from me.) Instead, focus on one or two (or maybe three) books at a time. My usual system is one nonfiction, one fiction, one audiobook (usually fiction) and one read aloud to the kids. However, currently I’m reading seven or so books, so I really just need to take this to heart myself. But they’re all really good books!

3. Read.

To read the books on your To Be Read list, you must read. Try reading instead of watching TV. Often you’ll enjoy this more, feel like an accomplished person, and end up going to bed earlier and getting a better night’s sleep. Think of how quickly you could finish a book if you read it for 45 minutes every day! You could read A Wrinkle in Time in about four days, The Diary of Anne Frank in a week, and Pride and Prejudice in two weeks!

4. Listen to audiobooks.

Audiobooks are wonderful because you can read a book without spending hours actually reading it. Instead, you can take a walk or drift off to sleep as you listen.

You don’t need to spend loads of money to listen to audiobooks. Most libraries have a good collection of audiobooks, or you can get a free one for every email address you have by signing up with audible, or you can use the Libravox app to listen to almost any book in the public domain.

5. Be particular about books that get on your list.

Don’t just add a book to your TBR as soon as you hear it mentioned on a podcast. For one thing, if you heard an author on a podcast talking about his or her book, you probably heard everything you need to know. You can quote me on that.

If you heard an author on a podcast talking about his or her book, you probably heard everything you need to know.   – Levi Pierpont

Only add a book to your To Be Read list if you are really excited about reading it, or it’s a fairly short book. Also, word to the wise: classics aren’t necessarily boring old tomes from the past, they’re just books that have staying value, that have withstood the test of time. That’s why classics are the best books to read, whether that’s War and Peace or The Time Quintet, age doesn’t really matter, as long as masses of people have read it before you and generally agree that the book has good, strong quality.

To view my current TBR, click here. This will take you to my Goodreads list, and with a little maneuvering, you can also view all the books I’ve logged as already read.

 

 

Change Your Outlook on 2017

The only way to move forward is to take steps. If you are sitting in your life wishing and hoping that life would just get better for you… You’re being silly. You’ll never roll the dice just the right way from your seated position and magically succeed at life. You need to get up and run.

Whatever your age, whether you’re young and feel you have lots of time, or old and you feel you don’t really have much time left, you can still try to change your life.

One way we seek to change our lives is the setting of goals. Many do not set goals because they think they do not work. I think this is comparable to a farmer deciding not to plant seeds because last year, the weather didn’t work out. This attitude is just more silliness. Often, if you look at the people who say this, they are not really “growers”; they’re not trying to grow and change. Instead, they are docile.

If you want to run instead of sit through 2017, if you want to play in the orchestra of 2017 instead of simply listening, and if you want to have more fulfillment in life… Try setting some goals.

Yes, I talked about this in my last blog post, but I wanted to be sure you have goals. So, if you already set some goals, you have permission to leave. 😉 (Although, you can still gain from this if you’ve already set goals.)

 

Start by figuring out what you want to change about your life.

Start with just one. Ask yourself “what do I want to change about my life?”

Want to get fit? Make a goal to eat better and/or exercise more.

Want to make more money? Make a goal to get more education and/or get a job some place.

Want to grow closer to God? Make a goal to read the Word and pray on a regular basis.

Want to read more? Make a goal to read ten specific books this year.

Want to be more social? Make a goal to grow closer to five friends and make two new ones.

Want to be more knowledgeable? Make a goal to listen to some smart podcasts and read more nonfiction.

Want to be kinder? Make a goal to be more self-aware of the way you talk.

Do you see the possibilities? It’s literally endless.

 

Make it more specific.

Once you’ve figured out what you want to change, you need to figure out how. Try to be specific, and incorporate some number so you will know when you’ve reached your goal.

Set some monthly check-ups.

Now, a part most people leave out: check up with yourself! A lot of people set some fun goals, them abandon them in February. It’s a tale as old as time that you’ve probably heard so many times you’re annoyed to hear me say it again. But it happens. It’s happened to me, it has probably happened to you, and it will happen to you again if you don’t check up with yourself.

Ebb and flow is natural. You’ll start out really excited about your goals, then life will remind you why they’re so hard. So let yourself off for a week in February! Then get back to it. Every few weeks, figure out where you are on your goals.

If your goal was to read twelve books this year, and it’s June, and you haven’t read anything since you went to bed at 1 AM on January 1st, then you’re in trouble! Take your goal and explain in a bit of detail where you want to be each month. Then, at the end of each month, check to see if you’re still running smoothly.

 

That’s it!

If you have questions, just ask below, I would love to help. Seriously, I would love to think that I helped someone set goals. It would do my heart good.

Go Take a Walk!

If it is possible for you to go take a walk right now and forget this post, go do that! Now onto the post.

There are tons of benefits to taking walks. Here are a few I found via Google Search:

  1. Walking helps your heart.
  2. Walking helps you lose weight. (duh)
  3. Walking makes you happier.
  4. Walking gives you energy.
  5. Walking helps your brain.
  6. Walking improves your sleep.
  7. Walking helps you be more creative.

Obviously, walking is better than… let me think… lots of things. Including sliced bread.

Here are some tips to building a walking habit into your life:

Start Walking

Once you start, you’ll enjoy it, and then it will be a lot easier to get yourself to go on a walk.

Have a Designated Time

Every day at a certain time, take a walk. Pretty simple, I know.

Just Walk for a Few Minutes

Fairly self-explantatory. Don’t insist that you walk for an hour or even ten minutes. Just be content with walking for five minutes. If at all possible, keep all the intentional walking out-of-doors.

Simply Walk

Don’t listen to podcasts. (Yeah, I listen to podcasts every time. But I’m trying to stop.) Don’t listen to music. Don’t read. (Yes, I have read while walking before. It’s not really that hard. But don’t do it.) Just walk.

Now go take a walk! Or set a reminder on your device to tell you when you can. See you next time!

One Simple Tip for Those Building Habits or Working on Goals

A few days ago, I was trying to figure out why I succeeded at building some habits and failed at building others. Why had some goals been practically effortless and others excruciatingly difficult until I gave up? Read More

Addressing the Vague Goals: How to Exercise More

Last week I wrote about the first “vague goal” on my list, “how to read more.” This week, I will be giving my advice on how to exercise more. Read More