New Year, New (Smarter) You!

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It’s THAT time of the year again – the time when hope springs eternal and the chance to reinvent yourself into a new (smarter) you seems more possible than ever. But let’s be honest: it’s also that time when many of us feel that we’re screwed, that with half of the school year behind us, there’s no chance of catching up to where we wish we were. Well, I’m here to help you see that educational glass as half full and to help you take 2016 by storm! Here are ten ways in which YOU can turn your academic frown UPSIDE DOWN - Let’s do this!

1. Go tech free. Okay relax - I don't mean forEVER! But seriously, turning off your phone, laptop, whatever, for even an HOUR, can make a huge difference to your productivity - and to your state of mind in general. Okay I get it, your phone’s on silent – DOESN’T MATTER! Just KNOWING that your phone is potentially buzzing with messages is enough to distract you from focusing 100% on what's in front of you. Set aside one hour each night, and vow to dedicate it to just you and your textbook – no technology allowed.

2. Set tangible goals. It's easy to say that you want to be a 'better' student, do 'more' homework, or get 'higher' grades - but what do those things actually mean? Setting goals you can actually measure doesn't only mean that you have something to strive for, but that you'll have something to celebrate. Try "I want my math mark to increase by 5% this semester" instead of "I want my math mark to increase," or "I want to start studying for my tests 1 week in advance" instead of "I want to stop cramming last minute."

3. Get an agenda that you love - and use it. Ahhhh the crux of every students' educational success: time management! Okay listen - time management is hard for most of the population, but the key is mastering it as soon as humanly possible so that you never have to struggle with it again. Trust me.The first step is realizing that everyone finds organization overwhelming and that that's totally fine. So chill. The second step is embracing it as a challenge, and being determined to JUST DO IT. The third step is getting the tools you need to make it happen.

I always loved the physical agenda - a beautiful, new-smelling book with fresh pages waiting for a smooth pen to mark them up with dates and plans and promises. I always found that the agendas my school gave me were wayyyy too small and it seriously stressed me out having to cram all that info into each tiny space, so I always made a point of getting a giant agenda from a pretty bookstore. BUT even I will admit that now, I'm totally tech - I like to have everything on my phone so that I can access my plans super easily, and change things without having to white them out. There are a TON of apps to help keep you organized, such as My Homework App - this thing is genius, and guaranteed to kickstart your time management process! My absolute fave, and the one I use, is good ol' Google Calendar - can't go wrong with that. The key to all of these tools though - is to use them! Become addicted to entering, refining and re-checking when you're supposed to be doing everything - soon that in itself will become therapeutic instead of overwhelming!

4. Stop procrastinating. Like you haven’t vowed to do this a million times before, right? But seriously, make this time different. Be mindful of when you’re procrastinating, what you’re even DOING when you’re procrastinating, and why you’re procrastinating. These three things alone will make a HUGE difference. Just starting to identify moments of procrastination instead of pleading ignorance, is the first step in making yourself stop!

5. Make mornings matter. Mornings are like this secret treasure trove that often goes overlooked. Hitting snooze a billion times, eventually dragging yourself out of bed, missing breakfast, and throwing yourself into your period 1 class just in time for the bell to ring – well, that sucks! Morning is my favourite time. Nothing has happened yet, the whole day lies ahead, it’s like bonus time. Try waking up 30 minutes earlier than usual, making a cup of tea, lighting a candle, and writing down three goals for your day. Or three things that are going to make today awesome. Or simply writing your morning thoughts. I know it sounds cheesy – but systematically starting your mornings this way could be the biggest game changer ever! For more magical morning game changers, check out Forbes' 10 Morning Habits Successful People Swear By!

6. Tell yourself you're awesome. Okay so you’ve set your goals, you’ve obtained a shiny new agenda, you’re waking up bright and early every morning, and you’re waiting for magic to happen. It’s easy to get discouraged – that’s the whole thing with resolutions – people go hard the first week, and then start slacking when they don’t see immediate results. But you’re not going to be one of those people – RIGHT?! The key is to remember that good things come to those who wait – and to those who persevere. You need to legit tell yourself, every day, that you are AWESOME for sticking to your resolutions, and even MORE awesome for doing so EVEN THOUGH you haven’t seen results yet. Look in that mirror, and tell yourself that you ROCK. EVERY DAY.

7. Pick ONE bad habit to get rid of. If you can actually get rid of ONE bad habit this year – how incredible would that be?! Pick something, anything. Maybe you ALWAYS wait until the last minute to study; maybe you always go to bed later than you should; maybe you always stuff your worksheets into your bag instead of putting them into your binder; maybe you never check your answers when you do your homework; maybe you NEVER DO YOUR HOMEWORK! Whatever it is, write it down, and vow to obliterate it THIS YEAR!

8. Get to know your teacher. Half the year has gone by and what do you REALLY know about your teacher? I’m not saying you need to become full-on BFF, but start getting to know what they look for when grading your tests and assignments, when they’re around for extra help, and what resources they can provide to help you gain higher grades and a better understanding of course material. Most of your teachers WANT to help you – they’re just waiting for you to ask. You will be shocked at how much you’ve been missing!

9. Be realistic. Guys, remember - Rome wasn’t built in a day. You’re not going to go full on “She’s all that” makeover overnight, and you really don’t need to. Even though you’re setting goals to change a number of things, there are a BUNCH of things you don’t NEED to change! That’s because there are a ton of things that you’re doing RIGHT – remember that. It’s easy to focus on everything you’re doing wrong, but don’t succumb to that trap – remember that you rock – and that setting resolutions is just a way to fine-tune your already well-oiled machine!

10. If at first you don’t succeed…CHILL OUT. So you sleep in late one morning, get a crappy test mark, forget to do your homework – that doesn’t mean you throw the entire plan out the window! It means you re-set your alarm, re-jig your agenda, and get back on track tomorrow morning. There’s always a new month, a new week, a new day, a new minute – a new chance for a new - smarter - YOU!

Got any advice on how to make – and keep – educational resolutions?! Share your words of wisdom in the comments section below, would love to hear from you!