SchoolHacking #1 – Ten Tips and Tricks To Make Sure You Come Out On Top

Or, alternatively, how to stay organized this year.

We all start the year off with the best of prospects. We tell ourselves, “this year, this year will be  different,” and “this year I will stay on top of things.” Don’t get me wrong, we all start off with the best intentions, but even great intentions can go to waste. I’m here to give you ten tricks and tips to keep you on the straight and narrow, and make sure your fresh start doesn’t get waylaid.

1) Keep a Calendar

I cannot stress this enough. Half of being organized is just knowing where you need to be. I’m a teenager too, and I get it. We all can have some pretty crazy schedules between school, work, extra-curricular activities, appointments, a social life, and who knows what else. Trying to plan something in your schedule is like trying to invade Russia in winter; it’s just not going to happen. Keeping a calendar can help you in check. Instead of racking your brain every time you need to plan ahead, step in front of your calendar, and there it is, laid out to see. With the amount of apps we have at our disposal, keeping a calendar is made that much easier. Most phones come with them built in. It’s portable and easy, and it keeps you right on track.

2) Keep Homework Notes

Have a small book or an app or even a sheet of paper to keep track of what you have due. At the end of every class, take down what you need to be doing that night, and what you need to be doing for a point in the future. This way, you can go home and look at what you’ve got, instead of trying to mentally retrace your steps.

3) Keep an Organized Binder

Your binder is where you’re doing all your work, so it’s integral to your learning that it’s kept clean and organized. Don’t just throw your sheets of paper in and hope for the best, because in two weeks time, or when you need to study, it’s going to drive you crazy when you need to try to find something. Make good use of things like dividers and pen holders to keep it in order. Try not to keep too much paper at one point in time, so it doesn’t get too full. Personally, I like to get notebooks for each subject, which keeps all my notes in one place, and also makes transporting homework easier than lugging around my binder. Whatever works for you, just make sure you’re keeping it straight, and keeping it neat.

4) Prioritize

Make sure you’re getting the important stuff done first. We’re all living busy lives, and we’ve all got a lot to do, so it’s important to check your due dates, and make sure you’re getting the high priority things done first. On your homework list, or even in your binder, put these things at the very top so that they get done, and you don’t have to scramble around last minute trying to get them in.

5) Stay on Top of Papers and Projects

Similarly to prioritizing, it’s important to keep track of when your papers or projects are due. Since you’re usually given them so far in advance, it’s easy to put them aside, and think that you can worry about them later. While it is important that you aren’t putting all your effort into something due at the end of the quarter, you also can’t just forget about it until the week before. We’ve all been there and done that, and it’s no fun for anyone. Make sure that every couple of weeks, you are putting a little into the project, even if it’s just some basic planning. That way, when the due date comes, you aren’t left with nothing.

6) Take Breaks Between Homework/Studying

Spending a whole day at school, and then coming home to do a few hours of homework can be exhausting. Not to mention entirely unproductive. The human brain can only focus for so long, so forcing yourself to sit down and cram can be kinda painful, not only to you, but also to your quality of work. Every 45-60 minutes or so, get up, walk around, have some water. Take a mental break. This can be about 10-15 minutes, and then at that point, you should be good to get back to work.

7) Stay Hydrated and Eat Something Healthy

Now I don’t know about everyone else, but my first stop once I’m home is the kitchen. We eat lunch at such an early time, by the time the end of school rolls around, I think it’s safe to say most of us are famished. I feel like I’m betraying some code of teenagerdom when I say this, but when you do go to get yourself a snack, make sure it’s healthy. As much as we’d all love to go for the box of Pop-Tarts, those really aren’t going to fill you up, nor are they going to help you out for whatever else you have planned for the rest of the evening. Remember that supper is still few hours away, so that means your snack can’t be too big either. Most importantly, I think to get any kind of protein in yourself would be super helpful. This could be cheese, meat, nuts, peanut butter, hummus, etc. Things like these are going to fill you up, and they are also going to last. To go with your healthy snack, make sure you are not drinking a pop or high sugar juice. Have a glass of milk, maybe, and water, water, water. A hydrated kid is a happy kid. Now, I’m not saying that you can never indulge yourself in some treats, but for the most part, stay away from the 99% sugar snacks, especially if you’ve got a big night ahead.

8) Get a Good Playlist

We live in the age of immense technology, and everyone has music on their phone, iPod, cd’s, etc., and I find that a good song can really motivate me to do my work. This advice is different for each person, and if you’re one of those people that is distracted by music, then I urge you not to take it. As for others, instead of sitting in front of the TV, or a movie, where your attention is being dragged in two different directions, cue up your iTunes with some really chill, or high energy, or instrumental music. Whatever works, whatever you like, go for it. Music is a good motivator in the right circumstances, and it can keep your work interesting, without becoming distracting.

9) Get Ready the Night Before

I know this may sound really dumb, and that it pertains more to elementary children, but getting ready the night before can eliminate a lot of stress and confusion. Even if you just make mental preparations, saving yourself of having to think of an outfit, or what to have for lunch, can cut out a considerable amount of time the next morning. Think about it.

And last, but certainly not the least…

10) Take a Day to De-stress

I mentioned this at the beginning, and I know it rings true for a lot of us; we all have crazy busy schedules. Once the school year rolls around, it feels like it’s suddenly “go, go, go” all the time, and we never get a minute to ourselves to sit down, take a breather, and just relax. Obviously, with our busyness, it can be hard to get a day for ourselves. When you do get a break, though, take it. Sit around all day. Watch a movie. Read a book. I don’t care how you relax, but make sure you do. Not all the time, but it’s good to keep in mind that you matter too, and everyone needs a mental health day once in awhile.

It may seem like a lot, but it’s ten steps, which could give you a very big hand this year. In the end, it’s up to you if you want to take me up on my advice.

Onward and upward my fellow peers!

– Baylee



Baylee Chilton is a Grade Twelve student at CCH. She enjoys copious amounts of television, novels, and terrible, old indie music. Her favourite thing about CCH is the library at Campus East.

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