‘Back to school? But it’s only the start of February!’
We hear you. We don’t want to think about summer coming to an end either. And we’re not trying to kill your buzz! However, even if we don’t talk about it, it’s still going to happen. Classes are going to pick up, you’re going to long for the days of sleeping in and staying up late, and the first month of learning will be a write-off because you’re just not in the studying headspace. And just like that, 2018 will be another year on the struggle bus. Did anyone else get a shiver of anxiety reading that truth bomb?
But what if we dream big and tell you that you can still live large for the remaining days of summer and get back into routine without missing a beat? Seriously. We’re here to tell you that it’s possible to rock up to classes on Day 1 without heavy bags under your eyes and without that dooming anxiety of unpreparedness.
We totally get that it’s still summer and nobody is about to start digging away for a headstart on required reading. We’re not even considering recommending something so audacious. No, our tips are super easy and will only require a small bit of time and commitment. That small amount of time will seriously make such a difference when your alarm rings on day one.
Tip #1: Get a good sleep routine
Before you throw your head back in anguish and ridicule us for lying about these tips being simple, understand that you don’t need to settle in to your regular school sleep schedule. A sleep routine is all about maximising the effectiveness of your sleep. It’s about waking up with energy and power, like we’ve talked about in this article. If you still want to stay up late with your besties, go for it. But before heading to sleep, calculate how many hours of sleep you should get (we recommend 8-9 hours for teens and young adults) and set your alarm accordingly. When that alarm goes off, get out of bed. Even if it’s just for ten minutes. Get up, do some stretches. Leave your bedroom. If you’re still totally exhausted after that, go back to bed. It is summer after all. But getting your body used to adhering to your alarm after a relaxing summer is going to help you wake up easier and bushy-tailed-er (you know what we mean!).
Getting enough sleep isn’t the only important aspect of a quality sleep routine. Being sure to sleep well is also a major component. It’s not the most enjoyable change, but we promise it’s easy: get rid of bedroom distractions.
Sadly, this means that we’re asking you to go to bed without Netflix on the telly. If you’re like most of us, you love drifting to sleep with The Good Place or Black Mirror dancing on the screen. But somewhere deep down, you know that it is disrupting your sleep. Whether it’s the bright lights, the bells and whistles getting louder or softer with the scenes, or just an unsettling plot tossing you into a weird dream, you’re better off turning in for the night without an episode or two.
On a similar note, after a summer of brekkie in bed and late night phone calls, it’s time to repurpose your comfy mattress back to being used solely for sleep. You shouldn’t bring food, or books, or even your phone for scrolling Insta, into your sleep sanctuary. It’ll almost definitely be difficult to get yourself to fall asleep without these distractions, but when you do, you’ll train your body to sleep when it’s time to sleep. This will help you sleep soundly and deeply, which will also help you get out of bed come morning.
Tip #2: Organise your workspace
Has your desk become a cluttered nightmare under a pile of beach towels and sand? Now is the time to clean it up!
Because assignments don’t begin until classes do, many of us take that as an excuse to wait until we need our desk to organise it. But if you have an assignment and you are prone to procrastination like the best of us, you’ll be even more likely to put off the assignment because it’s now a two-step process: cleaning the desk and homework. And let’s face it, starting a year off with procrastinating is going to really define your vibe from there.
Keeping a clean workspace is going to work as mental preparation that classes will be back in full force soon. It’s not to bum you out, and you probably won’t even catch yourself thinking about it too much! It will be a silent cue to your body that routine is coming back, and you’ll have to readjust. It will also give you a pre-class opportunity to do inventory with your supply stock. Has your liquid paper dried out? Do you need less Tiffany blue and more earthy toned stationary? Is that printer still compatible with your new laptop? Get ahead of the game and get set up before you even need it.
Have you come this far without needing a workspace? Why not take a few hours to set one up? It’s likely to be more effective while studying in a dedicated area rather than in places with other purposes (beds are for sleep, table is for meals, etc). Finding a desk can be as easy as repurposing some old furniture, checking out the nearest Salvos, or even searching Gumtree.
Tip #3: Make a budget
When we say make a budget, the first thing to come to mind is probably money. While that is a great way to keep ahead of the preparedness game, let’s first talk about budgeting time.
The most difficult part of being a young adult is finding time to tackle assignments, attend classes, have a social life, make meals, do chores, and you know the list doesn’t end there.
Dedicate a fraction of a day before classes commence and think about how you want to manage your time this year. If you can draft up a rough schedule and prioritise what is most important to you, you’ll find it a breeze to sink into routine and stay ahead of the game.
If putting your whole life into a schedule sounds daunting, start with an easy trial. Dust off the 2018 diary that you were given for Christmas and start using it! Sit down with your diary and write in dates that are already scheduled. Are you having a Galentine’s Day party? Write it in. Do you like to do exercise during the week? Add that, too. Do you like to spend the first 20 minutes of the day drinking coffee and scrolling Insta? Lock it in. You don’t need to live by this schedule, but it will help you remember what you did each day and thereby what activities are important enough to make time for during the school year.
Tip #4: Have goals
Your to-do list is going to go from casual to crazy in about one month. If you’re not ready, this is going to spiral into stressful and anxiety-ridden chaos. None of us are into that lifestyle, so let’s avoid it by making a to-do list for ourselves before classes kick up.
Start with making a goal that requires action each week of February. Choose a goal that’s achievable, but requires a bit of effort. Maybe you’ve slacked in your summer reading list and want to read 100 pages each week. Maybe you want to clean one room each week. Maybe you want to start training for the half marathon with one long run per week. It’s up to you.
During week number 2 of February, add another weekly item unrelated to the first goal. The first week asked you to read 100 pages, but now the second week is saying read another hundred pages PLUS practice piano for 30 minutes. Each week will ask for a little more, but you will be improving your time management before heading back to school. As long as you stick to your goals, there will be no transition period and you’ll start the year on top.
Now that you’re in a goal-setting mindframe, look ahead into your 2018 and think about what you would like to accomplish. It can be as big or little as you would like. Write it down (it will feel like a promise to yourself), and formulate strategies on how to get there. Last month we talked about New Year Resolutions and how to make sure they are successful. Just like in making resolutions, it’s important to keep your goals measurable and easy to implement off the bat.
Tip #5: Remember to take care of yourself
Last year around exam time, we shared several ways to relax while studying. Just because the year has only just begun and the stress hasn’t snuck up on you yet, doesn’t mean you should disregard the idea of relaxation! It is still a vital aspect of our mental wellbeing, and therefore has a direct impact on your success as a student.
Running from class to class, extracurricular to extracurricular, social event to social event is exhausting. And though it may be the easiest option to just grab a muesli bar or opt for takeaway after a long day, we beg you to not start that habit. Before you’re off this leisurely summer schedule, give meal prepping a go and see if it’s a good option for you. Making homemade freezer meals and ‘grab & go’ snacks will not only keep you healthy, but keep your brain power amplified as well! If your mum takes care of every snack and meal for you, and they are busy too, meal prepping can really help them out.
Finally, come the start of classes, you’ll notice that you spend a hell of a lot more time sitting still. Whether in a lecture, or typing up an essay, we just don’t move as much during the school year.
We’ve found that in the busy lives of teens and young adults, the activity most likely to get chopped from the schedule is exercise. You’ve been told that a solid 30-minutes a day will do, but how often do you have 30 minutes to spare? Well guess what? Ten minutes is better than zero. Take a brisk walk, do a quick plant, lift your 10 kilo textbooks above your head for a minute, or even do some pelvic floor exercises while you sit in class. It’s doesn’t have to be a lot of effort to take care of yourself, but it will make a hell of a difference in your mental and physical wellbeing this year.
Are you feeling anxious about getting back into to classes? Comment your concerns or send us a message. Anxiety can ruin a good day, and we want you to be at your best for these precious last weeks of summer!