A Guide to Getting A's This Winter

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As the winter holidays roll around and the motivation begins to escape us, it’s important to keep one eye on school and grades. After all, it’s easy to get sidetracked by holiday music, snow and chilly weather, and the impending break away from school. Whether you’re scrambling to get your grades up before break or losing motivation at the onset of final exams, here are six tips to improve your study habits this year.

Start a Journal // Journalling or keeping a diary may seem like a leaf out of your childhood, but journaling is a great way to provide an opportunity for self reflection. It can be writing about how your day has been, what goals you have for the upcoming week, or just random thoughts going through your mind when you can’t sleep. Writing it all down note only provides an outlet to let out your feelings and thoughts, it also provides for some great reading at the end of the year to show how you’ve changed over time. Concerned about keeping it up? Don’t worry. Journaling doesn’t have to be an everyday routine; that’s the beauty about it. It’s entirely your own: it’s what you make it out to be!

Create timetables // Timetables may sound like an automatic no; after all, who follows times down to a T? We have all overestimated or underestimated just how much time it takes to accomplish one task, and in doing so, we’ve said goodbye to the meticulously planned schedule.  However, setting down approximate times for how our tasks should be accomplished and how our day can look is a good method for hashing out our time. It creates a positive pressure on us to meet our time estimates and can incentivize you to cut out the procrastination if you want to stay on schedule. Inevitably, things will pop up--you won’t feel up to doing a task, you’ll get sidetracked on a project, you’ll have plans suddenly rise--but that doesn’t mean a timetable can’t help you start the day right!

Make a clean deskspace // For naturally messy and disorganized people, keeping a clean desk space can seem impossible. For many who are also creatively inclined, a messy desk can come with a lot of inspiration. However, for studying and revising, keeping a clear desktop and the physical act of cleaning can gear your brain up for studying. Without stray papers or trinkets to distract you, all your focus can be directed at the task at hand. Scheduling yourself to clean your desk once a week can become a productive routine that inspires you to get to work!

Have a study set of clothes // Whether you like working in your sweats or work clothes, having a set of clothes associated with revising can help in getting you into the mindset of studying. Whether it is a set of comfy sweats or a pair of slacks, the physical act of changing clothes into your study set of clothes can facilitate a change of mindset into a studious session.

Use a phone restricting app // The story is always the same. We turn off our phone and set it somewhere near us to begin working, but after minutes, our eyes begin to stray to our phones, wondering if our friends have responded in the group chat or if your teacher has sent the email you’ve been waiting for. Many expert educators recommend the “Out of sight, out of mind” technique but many times, our minds still tend to stray to our phone even when they aren’t close to us. An alternative is a phone restricting app such as Offtime or Forest which disincentivize you from using your phone. Offtime even blocks your texts and calls unless specifically indicated to allow a certain person’s messages.

Try some new music out // One of the great dangers of listening to music when doing homework or studying is that we get too caught up in it. Unconsciously, familiar music can cause us to start mouthing the lyrics or tapping our pencil to the beat or begin daydreaming about memories we associate with the music. Most educators recommend listening to classical music or not listening to music at all. But what if you’re in a loud place or if classical music just doesn’t cut it for you? Classical music isn’t just confined to stuffy 18th century musicians; trying modern orchestral pieces and composers, music from films and movies such as the works of the incomparable Hans Zimmer, or just instrumental versions of popular songs can generate the same focus.