Every September, many students have big aspirations for the new school year. Developing a plan is key to achieving goals, and the start of the school year is the ideal time to make a plan for achieving academic success. Whether you are pursuing your own education or are the parent of a school-aged child (or both!), following just a few simple strategies can help ensure that students of all ages have a successful academic year.
1. Motivation is vitally important in achieving goals. Think about what motivates you. What are your reasons for wanting to have a successful school year? Whether it is for the satisfaction of knowing you did your best, getting into college, or landing a dream job, identifying your motivation at the start of the school year (and reminding yourself of this motivation as the year progresses) will keep you focused.
2. Have a regular schedule. Do your work at the same time each day, and also make sure to schedule time for breaks. A regular schedule will keep you on track toward meeting your goals.
3. Keep track of due dates for big assignments, such as papers and projects, and decide how much time you will need to spend on each. Then, schedule specific times to work on each assignment over an extended period of time. This will help keep you on track and reduce the need for late nights.
4. Avoid multitasking. We are not as good at multitasking as we think. In fact, multitasking usually results in lowered productivity and more stress. Instead, try to focus on one task at a time.
5. Use multiple study techniques when studying for a single test. These can include flash cards, taking notes while reading, reading out loud, making charts or drawings to illustrate concepts, and listening to audiobooks. This will make learning more active and will help you remember more of what you study.
6. Reduce distractions. Having easy access to phones, email, or websites creates distractions and reduces productivity. Try to work in a quiet room with minimal distractions. It may help to sign out of email and social networking sites and to put your phone out of reach.
7. Take time to reflect on your accomplishments throughout the year! Reflecting on accomplishments, both big and small, will keep you motivated and on track toward achieving your goals.
Christine Howard, Psy.D.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist