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  • Writer's pictureIan Gibbs

Student Tip 11: Planning

When you were at primary, your time was very much decided by your teachers at school and your parents at home.

But as you start thinking for yourself, you start to take more responsibility for your own wellbeing.

You start to decide when would be the best time to do stuff—even the stuff you don’t feel like doing.

Planning, or if you prefer, the-ability-to-do-something-today-that’ll-make-your-life-better-tomorrow, is one of the most important skills you can develop.

After all, if we all went about doing whatever we felt like doing whenever we felt like doing it, our lives would be a complete mess, wouldn’t they?

Maybe you already know someone who is a bit like that?

But why?

Why is planning supposedly so important?

What’s the problem with doing stuff when you feel like doing it?

The problem is called distraction.

For instance, if you have a choice of two activities where one is your not-so-much-fun history homework and the other is listening to your friends tell you about why Harry and Sally got detention in their Biology class, the latter is probably more interesting at that moment. It grabs your attention.

Your life is full of attention grabbers: friends, gossip, rivals, text messages, romantic interests, social media, after- school activities, important announcements.

And when you get home there’s the fridge, the TV, the internet, parents, more social media, siblings, more messages, etc., etc., etc....

In short, there will always be something more interesting, more ‘shiny’, than studying.

But not necessarily more important.

If you postpone the important things every time you find something shiny, you’ll never get round to doing any of them.

This is a problem.

As we’ve already seen, the longer we delay doing an assignment, the more we’ll have forgotten from the previous lesson.

Planning is a way of reminding yourself to stop the shiny stuff from getting in the way of the important stuff. It’s a way of helping yourself focus your attention on those important things.

If you like, you can draw up a study timetable or modify your school timetable to include homework sessions.

If your weeks tend to be too irregular for a timetable, then another option is to use a homework app. These allow you to plan out your assignments and they send you reminders when necessary, which is very helpful.

A simpler solution is just to set yourself a study alarm or reminder which basically says ‘Stop whatever you’re doing and start studying now’.

Whatever system you come up with, a bit of forward planning will help you get your homework done sooner, better and with higher grades. Planning helps you avoid forgetting, procrastinating or being distracted by the shiny stuff.

It will help you effectively get through that steady flow of assignments, making sure it never builds up into an unconquerable mass and avoid those feelings of stress and frustration.

By planning your time, you can get through more stuff per day and make sure that when it comes to going out for the evening to those truly important social events, there won’t be any problem because all your homework will have already been done.

Tip 11: Plan your study sessions in advance and don’t let the shiny stuff distract you.

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