Summer is ending soon, and it is ever-so-crucial to go back to school with the right game plan. At Command Education, we know that good habits distinguish top students from the rest. You too can become a stand-out, high-achieving student by implementing a few simple steps into your routine. Whether you are a freshman starting high school or a rising senior preparing to tackle college applications, these six productivity habits will help you achieve your goals.
6 Things Top Students Do To Remain Insanely Productive
Social Media Detox
You’ve probably heard this one before – and you should hear it again. Mindless social media scrolling not only leads to losing track of time, but also insecurity, anxiety, depression, normative dissociation, sleep deprivation, and even ADHD symptoms. Social media addiction is labeled as a “behavioral addiction” by the Addiction Center. Never underestimate the damage a quick social media break can have on your entire study schedule – your decision to check the notifications on your phone can turn into hours of mindless scrolling. Instead, plan ahead and use tools to keep track of time spent on social media. You can set up screen time limits or designate a specific time frame during which you know you want to use your phone.
Become a Time Realist
“Time realists look at a task and break down the math of it. They’re conscious of how long things take, and they factor that in to their plans for the day. Time optimists, by comparison, are just that: hopeful about things they would like to do. It leads to them to overstuff their days and become frustrated when their list of to-dos doesn’t get completed.”
– Jolie Kerr, “It’s Time to Become a Time Realist”
When managing assignments, deadlines and a busy schedule, knowing how to allocate time effectively is another skill that allows top students to go above and beyond. If you feel that you need extra help with your schoolwork, plan accordingly!
Consider this scenario: let’s say you get home late from soccer practice, and you only have three hours to finish homework and study for a history test until you have to work on a science project with your friend. You allocate one hour to eating and watching TV – then you designate the next hour for studying because you know it will require a lot of brain power to memorize historical dates. With the remaining time, you finish your homework and get ready for the group project.
Just as in this example, stay on top of your schedule and plan the ways you will spend your time. One great way to do this is to start each morning by constructing a detailed daily calendar or checklist. Or, try the Pomodoro technique, through which you concentrate on a task for 20-25 minutes and take a short 5-minute break. Then, repeat. This method can help maximize productivity and allow you to break bigger projects into smaller, less-intimidating tasks. Don’t let free time go to waste: make it count.
Create Action Items (and stick to them)
Make a checklist of all the items you have to complete each day and week. Cross reference your planner or Google Classroom to make sure you do not forget any tasks.
Be very specific about the tasks you need to finish. It helps to break down bigger goals into smaller steps. For example, don’t just write “study for my chemistry final.” Break that down into “write a study guide for chapter 5, memorize all bolded terms, and complete practice problems #1-20.”
Then, set realistic deadlines for each action item. If something is due the following day, prioritize completing it over an assignment due at the end of the week. If you have an essay to write, give yourself enough time to make an outline, write multiple drafts, and edit, preferably over the course of a few days (or a few months if it is a large-scale project). If you’re an incoming senior, take a look at Command Education’s step-by-step guide on creating a plan and checklist for approaching college applications!
Prioritize good habits: Sleep, eat, hydrate, workout… repeat
It’s crucial to develop good habits early on in order to keep your mind and body healthy. Unfortunately, it’s common for students to get an insufficient amount of sleep each night. A lack of sleep is extremely detrimental to health and well-being. Sleep deprivation can lead to anxiety, depression, an inability to concentrate, poor grades, and memory issues. Additionally, it can also weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to getting sick.
Eating well and drinking enough water are also often overlooked but extremely important habits! According to a children’s health expert from USC, eating too much sugar has been linked to negative academic performance.
Try to move your body for at least half an hour each day. Whether you go to the gym and work out or go on a walk around your neighborhood, physical activity has many health benefits. According to the CDC, exercise leads to improved brain health and academic performance.
Once our students have reduced their stress and refocused their energy on their passions, we often hear from parents, “I have never seen my child so motivated.” With our mentors supporting and encouraging them, 100% our students feel empowered to pursue their passions and feel proud of their accomplishments.
Find What Works for You
Learn which productivity tips work best for you through trial and error! Different tips work for different people. Maybe time blocking works for your best friend but you tried it and hated it; or, you might find that small rewards help you to stay motivated. Maybe you thrive if you study with like-minded learners, or maybe you perform better if you study solo.
The effectiveness of these methods can also vary by subject or goal: for example, the Pomodoro Technique might work great for writing an essay due tomorrow, but you might find a different tactic to be more effective for studying for the SAT. That being said, try out different methods, and keep our tips in mind as you figure out what works best for you!
“Surround yourself with those who bring out the best in you, not the stress in you” - David Roads
You are the product of the five people you spend the most time with, so be sure to find friends who work hard to achieve their goals and will motivate you to achieve yours. Choose the people you hang out with wisely and cultivate friendships with those individuals in your classes and clubs who share your passions, work ethic, and ambitions.
We recommend finding a few friends who are academically ambitious and asking them to create a study group with you because healthy competition will incentivize you to collaborate and succeed!
At the end of the day, what matters most is finding the strategies that keep YOU productive. Keep these five tips in mind as you start preparing for the upcoming school year!