The school holidays.
For most students, it’s their favorite time of the year.
It’s easy to see why.
During the school holidays, there’s no homework to do, no tests to study for, and no projects to work on.
But the new school year is just around the corner. So you might as well be prepared, right? 🙂
I’ve come up with this list of 15 things every student should do before beginning the new school year.
If you do the things on this list, I guarantee that you’ll be off to a great start!
1. Adjust your sleeping and waking times.
During the school holidays, you’ve probably been sleeping and waking up late.
Now’s the time to make adjustments. If you don’t, you’ll take longer to get used to the schedule when school starts again.
Adjust your sleeping and waking times gradually over two weeks. Go to bed 5 to 10 minutes earlier each night, and you’ll be able to shift your sleeping schedule significantly over those two weeks.
You can even set an alarm to go off every night, as a reminder to go to bed.
2. Get a management diary or weekly planner.
The inside of the diary or planner should look something like this:
If you prefer to go digital, you can use an online calendar instead, such as Google Calendar.
By using these tools regularly, you’ll be able to plan your time and priorities.
Block out time in your schedule for academics, extracurricular activities, social events, family time, etc.
3. Write down key dates in your diary or planner.
As a follow-up to Point #2, block out important dates such as:
- National holidays
- Family events
- School holidays
- School events
- Exam dates
After doing this, you’ll have a good overview of the major events in the coming school year.
This will allow for you to plan your schedule and commitments.
4. Organize your study area.
In the coming year, you’ll spend hundreds – or even thousands – of hours at your study table.
So organize your study area for maximum productivity.
Ensure that …
- Your study area is free of distractions
- Your essential supplies are within easy reach
- Your study area is well-lit
- Your chair is adjusted to the correct height
- Your desk is clear of unnecessary notes, textbooks, etc.
5. Clear your room.
Now that you’re done organizing your study area, it’s time to clear your room.
Eliminate all clutter. Throw or give away all the clothes, books, notes, and souvenirs you no longer need.
Why is it important to get rid of clutter?
Because clutter causes stress. In other words, by clearing your room you’ll feel happier over the course of the school year.
If you have tons of stuff to clear, do it progressively. Spend 20 minutes a day decluttering, and you’ll have a neat room after a week or so.
6. Stock up on stationery and supplies.
Don’t wait until the start of school to do this, because there will be plenty of other things you’ll be busy with then.
Make a list of all the supplies you need, e.g. pens, pencils, paper, highlighters, folders. Then schedule a trip to the bookstore to pick those things up.
7. Create a system for organizing your notes, assignments, etc.
Being disorganized is one of the biggest causes of stress.
So if you want to have a great school year ahead, you need a system for organizing your schoolwork (both physical and digital).
Here are two articles you’ll find helpful:
- How to Stay Organized for School
- Creating Order From Chaos: 9 Great Ideas for Managing Your Computer Files
8. Get healthy snacks.
When school starts, you’ll get busy. And we all know that it’s hard to eat healthy when you’re busy.
Make healthy eating convenient by stocking up on snacks like …
- Cashew nuts
- Nut butters
- Dried fruit
- Low-sugar snack bars
9. Start using the following productivity apps …
- Slack: Well-designed messaging app that will improve communication within your project team.
- Trello: Simple but powerful project management tool that you can also use to manage your personal tasks.
- Todoist: My favorite tool to manage my to-do list.
- Habitica: App that turns habit formation into a fun game.
- My Study Life: Tool to help you stay organized when it comes to your schedule, homework, exams, and more.
Technology has become an important part of our lives. We might as well use it to make our lives more productive!
10. Make exercise a part of your routine.
Regular exercise is proven to enhance your brain function, memory, and mood. In other words, if you want to be a successful – and healthy – student, exercise is important.
Here’s what I recommend:
First, write down your rough weekly schedule for the new school year.
Next, think about what kind of exercise routine would fit into that schedule.
Lastly, start implementing that routine so that you’ll get used to it before school starts.
Don’t be too ambitious. The routine could be something as simple as going for a swim on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 4 to 4:30pm.
And if you haven’t been exercising regularly, increase the frequency and duration slowly until you’re following the desired routine.
11. List the habits you want to develop in the coming year, and come up with a workable plan.
These are some possible habits to develop:
- Reading for leisure
- Keeping a gratitude journal
- Daily reflection
- Eating more vegetables
- Writing thank-you notes
- Flossing your teeth
- Being punctual
Come up with a plan where you develop one new habit every month or so. For example, if you want to start reading for leisure, your plan might look something like this:
1st week of January: Read for 3 minutes every day before bed
2nd week of January: Read for 5 minutes every day before bed
3rd week of January: Read for 10 minutes every day before bed
4th week of January: Read for 15 minutes every day before bed
12. Do some basic budgeting and financial planning.
Money management is an important life skill. Now is the best time to start developing this skill.
Keep it simple. Take out a sheet of paper and write down how much pocket money you receive each month. If you have a part-time job, include your monthly salary too.
Next, write down your monthly fixed expenses. This would include things like …
- Phone bill
Calculate how much you have left, then set aside money for …
- Guilt-free spending
If you’re not sure how you currently spend your money, track your spending on every single item for just one month. Toshl is a great app that will allow you to do this with minimal inconvenience.
13. Reflect on the previous year.
Do this for the following six areas:
- Physical health (exercise, sleep, diet)
- Relationships (friends, family)
- Academics (discipline, motivation, individual subjects/courses)
- Personal growth (skills, character)
- Service (serving others at home and outside the home, volunteering)
- Fun (hobbies, leisure)
For each of the six areas, write down what you (a) did well (b) did not do so well.
14. Set process goals for the coming school year.
Now that you’ve reflected on the past year, you’re ready to set process goals for the coming year. Do this for each of the six areas listed under Point #13.
What are process goals?
They’re goals that are based on the process you plan to follow, not the result you plan to achieve.
By setting process goals, you’ll focus on what you can control (your actions), rather than on what is sometimes outside of your control (the outcome). This makes process goals far more effective than outcome-based goals.
These are examples of process goals you might set for the six areas mentioned under Point #13:
- Physical health: Drink soda two times a week or fewer, and only on weekends
- Relationships: Talk to your parents for at least 15 minutes every day before going to bed
- Academics: Complete at least 3 x 30-minute study sessions a day
- Personal growth: Read a non-fiction book for at least 10 minutes a day after getting home from school
- Service: Volunteer at the nearby animal shelter for at least two hours every two weeks
- Fun: Play the ukulele for 10 minutes a day
Don’t feel as if you need to implement all the process goals at once.
Focus on just one area at a time, and make gradual progress over the course of the year.
15. Write down at least five reasons why you’re thankful for school.
This will make you feel more positive about the new school year, even if you don’t feel excited about it at the moment.
Here are some reasons to be grateful:
- Friends to hang out with
- New skills to acquire
- Exciting challenges to take on
- Leadership opportunities to embrace
- Caring teachers to learn from
The bottom line
Maybe you’re dreading the start of school. Or maybe you can’t wait for classes to start.
Whatever the case, the new school year holds plenty of promise.
The promise of new experiences.
The promise of new friends.
The promise of new skills and knowledge to master.
By doing the 15 things listed in this article, you’ll prepare yourself to make the most of the coming year. Don’t feel overwhelmed – just start with one or two things and pick up the momentum gradually.
As you do this, you’ll feel inspired and motivated.
Here’s wishing you a fantastic school year ahead! 🙂
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