Learn how to get work done during the most tiresome part of the day.
As a grade 12 student, I’ve faced a number of tribulations throughout high school. Few have felt like as much of a tug-of-war as my persistent struggles to motivate myself when I get home. One day I might feel content about how productive and efficient I was in completing my work, but then I tend to regress and waste the rest of the week. To this day, settling into a routine is still something I struggle with. Fortunately, I can pinpoint three tactics I have been using to improve my time-management skills in preparation for my postsecondary education. Solid study habits make all the difference if you are interested in pursuing a career in any academically demanding field. Here are my recommendations:
Get straight to business!
On one of the first days of grade 9, I wanted to set the right tone for my high school years. I opened my backpack as soon as I got home and completed the day’s work before even thinking about relaxing. This was my routine for about two weeks, but I progressively lost my focus. By winter break, I was procrastinating until dusk on crucial homework and assignments.
This strategy of refusing to take it easy as soon as you get home can be very effective if implemented properly. The biggest mistake I made was being too extreme. Set goals that you know you can attain. For most young adults, trying to get everything done all at once is not sustainable. I like to get my heaviest subject’s homework done first. Once I devote around an hour to my most difficult task, I take a break. Prioritize starting out strong and the rest of your evening will fall into place. If you need more structure to complete your work, you may want to specify exactly what you want to accomplish and resort to the next strategy.
Use a timer to hold yourself accountable.
There are numerous ways to use a timer to get work done after school. One method is the five minute rule. Set a timer for five minutes, and during that time, get started on a difficult yet important task. Hopefully you will get into a rhythm and will want to continue working for longer. This is especially useful for larger assignments you are hesitant to start.
Another method is using time intervals to maintain focus. According to doctors David Cornish and Diane Dukette, a significant drop-off in focus generally occurs after a teenager or adult spends 20 minutes on a given task. The so-called Pomodoro Technique requires you to set timers for 20-25 minute intervals of work scheduled around 5-minute breaks. With consistent practice, you will be able to train your mind to focus for even longer intervals, and the value of a strong attention span cannot be overstated during exam season. While dividing your effort across manageable periods of time is helpful, you may need to consider my third strategy to further ease the monotony of your homework and assignments.
Music can motivate you through mundane schoolwork.
The most boring class I had in high school was accounting. The assigned work was always way too repetitive for my liking, and getting through it all would have taken so much more energy had I not listened to music. I find that lofi beats and synthwave, as well as other music with limited or no lyrics, worked best for me. I also found success using YouTube or Spotify to loop a single song with a nice beat. I encourage you to experiment working with music in different ways. Once you find a method that works for you, finishing your toughest grunt work becomes much less of a chore.
Motivating yourself after school is not about picking one strategy and sticking to it exclusively. It’s about trial and error, seeing what works, and continuing to do it. The benefits compound as you combine effective methods. Once you get in a routine, you gain momentum, and that momentum will translate into success in high school and beyond!