As a senior in high school, I know what it feels like to be overwhelmed. Trying to balance schoolwork, extracurriculars, and now applying for scholarships is not easy. But, fortunately, there are a few habits you can create for yourself to stay (or in my case, become) sane.
- Stay Organized
When you have a million different things all happening at the same time, it is easy to lose track of where you are supposed to be and what assignments you should be focused on completing. This is where the true power of to-do lists shines. From the perspective of school, it may help to organize your assignments according to subject. If you are involved in multiple extracurricular activities, separate your tasks according to the activity.
There are a multitude of tools out there to help you stay organized. Google Keep is a popular option for students at my school. There are other tools as well, such as Todoist and Trello.
If you are like me, you are also perfectly content with writing out your to-do lists by hand. Whatever works for you, as long as it helps you stay organized and avoid getting overwhelmed by everything you need to get done.
If you are going through the process of the scholarship search, it may be a good idea to create a Google spreadsheet to organize which ones you are applying for, their respective deadlines, and application requirements.
- Pace Yourself
To avoid overworking yourself, it is important to balance both work time and free time. Taking periodic study breaks after finishing a certain number of tasks is crucial in pacing yourself. If you try to work non-stop all day long, you will find yourself to be exhausted the next and find no motivation to get anything else done—which is quite counterproductive.
I have said this before in my other articles but I will say it again: try using the pomodoro technique! You simply set a timer for twenty five minutes in which you work with full focus. After those twenty five minutes come to an end, you take a break for five minutes in which you step away from your study space and relax for a bit. You repeat this cycle of working and taking a break as many times as necessary until your tasks are complete.
But if you are planning on working for a long time, take a thirty minute to one hour break after three to four cycles of the pomodoro technique. The selling point of this strategy is that you are able to work without getting distracted since you are allowing yourself to take periodic breaks.
Remember that it is also perfectly okay to say “no” to additional responsibilities and commitments and take time for yourself. Sometimes, you need those days of doing nothing but binge watching your favorite TV show to do your best on other days!
- Find Motivation
In a typical academic setting, students are constantly interacting with their classmates and teachers, inspiring each other to stay on top of their to-do lists. But in today’s virtual world, when you have nothing but a Zoom screen, students are being forced to motivate themselves.
The good news is that there are ways to turn your worst distractions into top motivators. For example, if you find yourself wasting a ton of time scrolling through TikTok, start following influencers who share tips on overall well-being and time management. When your for-you-page is filled with people telling you to get back to work, it makes it easier for you to put your phone down.
Aside from the apps on your phone, try to surround yourself with people who inspire you. Set up a study group with some classmates in subjects you are struggling with. Even if you are not close to them, your collective struggles to stay on top of things is a sure way to form lasting friendships. Having friends by your side will also act as a reminder to keep trying no matter how hard the curriculum gets.
- Ask for help when you need it
When you find yourself falling behind or having a really hard time with a particular task or subject, don’t be afraid to ask for help from your teachers and mentors. Remember, their job is to help you as much as they can. Whether it be showing up to extra help sessions after school or scheduling one-on-one meetings, know what resources are available to you.
If you are having trouble managing your time, try implementing some of these tips! I would wish you luck, but you really don’t need it.