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A guide to starting the school year on the right foot

By Zier Zhou, 2nd year Life Sciences student

Look no further for the perfect back-to-school motivation

They say that the best books tell you what you already know, so maybe this goes for advice as well. Keep reading for quick tips on how to set a healthy routine for a successful start in the fall semester!

Declutter your life

Reset sleep patterns

We’ve all heard that sleep is vital for our physical health, daytime performance, and healthy brain function. Make it a top priority and aim to get around eight hours each night. While many people argue against morning classes, waking up early for lectures can be a good thing because it forces you to develop a routine that allows for more productivity during the rest of the day.

Clear everything

Being surrounded by clutter can often distract you from more important things and create unwanted stress. The new semester is another chance to start fresh, so organizing your internal and external environment is essential. There is no better time than now to get rid of old clothes, books, and other miscellaneous items you don’t need. Furthermore, find to free your mind and stop worrying about past problems that can no longer be fixed. For confidential crisis support or one-to-one counselling, book an appointment with Counselling Services.

Plan your activities

The life of a typical Queen’s student is quite busy, so it’s incredibly helpful to keep track of your class quizzes, club meetings, and various upcoming events by writing them down in a planner or on a calendar. Making daily to-do lists and estimating how long each task will take is also an effective way to manage your time and stay on top of things. Take a look at what kind of time management resources SASS has to offer.

Study mode: activated

Set high expectations

Who recalls that inspirational quote about shooting for the moon and landing among the stars, stuck on the wall of every elementary school classroom? Be confident in your abilities, stubborn about your goals, and flexible in your methods for achieving them. Challenge yourself to see how far you can go, because how will you ever know if you don’t try? See more on tips for setting smart goals here.

Minimize distractions

Libraries are one of the few places where you can go to be simultaneously surrounded by people and silence. Going there to learn is a good idea, not only because to avoid disruptions, but it’s also motivating when everyone else around you is studying. Opening your textbook and flipping to the first page is often the hardest part, but as time passes, you’ll find yourself learning and adapting to a new routine. Remember: nothing is stronger than habit.

Find what works for you

There is no ultimate study strategy, since what works best greatly depends on the student and the topic. Creating flashcards, forming connections, and using spaced repetition is helpful for memorizing information. To fully test your understanding, work on lots of practice problems and make sure you can explain what you’ve learned in your own words. For more information on improving your study skills, visit this page.

Attitude over aptitude

Practice your focus

It’s way too easy to turn your head at the ring of a notification or click open a tab to get lost on Facebook. Break down your work into reasonable intervals and time yourself with the Pomodoro technique. Whether it’s classical melodies or the sound of rain, listening to something without lyrics may also improve your concentration. For more techniques on maintaining focus, look here.

Balance is key

Taking short breaks in between your homework sessions are just as important as the studying itself. Studies have suggested that exercise, such as running and yoga, enhances your memory and focus. Celebrate small successes, and never forget to make time to keep in touch with family, have fun with your friends, and pursue your own creative hobbies.

Positive thinking only

You won’t always be able to control what happens, but you are in control of how you think and respond to the situation. The loudest and most powerful voice you hear is your own inner voice. Let it tell you to keep looking on the bright side, because even the most devastating mistakes can be viewed as an opportunity to learn from them. Never hesitate to seek further help – for example, SASS offers free individual professional advising with a learning strategist.


Photo courtesy of Free Range Stock under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license 2.0