Maybe it’s that time of your senior school year — the time where you feel as though you have little motivation to get out of bed, let alone study for hours on end and prioritise things. Maybe you’ve worked so hard up until this point, and feel a little burnt out.
Maybe, you have put off so much that your work is piling up so you procrastinate even more to get out of it! If this sounds like you, then you have come across the perfect little guide to help you celebrate the little wins that happen throughout your senior year and get motivated to finish the year off with a bang.
Let’s get straight into it!
Tip 1: Take a Step Back and Breathe
It is not uncommon to get overwhelmed by the workload that comes with being a Year 11 or Year 12 student. Eloquently put by Derek, it can feel like you’re playing the game ‘whack a mole’, where you feel as though you have finally finished something and are ready to take a break, but assignment and exams keeping popping up for all your subjects, and all of a sudden you feel yourself too stressed to even think about completing another one.
“One thing popped up and I managed to use all of my strength to get that one thing down but then a ton of other things would pop up as well… I just said, you know, let’s just take a moment to breathe and just see what am I doing and how can I improve upon it,” shared Derek.
Derek’s first step to conquering this feeling was to really take a step back and breathe. But, what do we mean by this?
Well, it is of utmost importance to be able to feel on top of things, and feel as though you are in control of what you are doing, and this is what taking a step back allows you to do.
It allows you to remove yourself from the stressful headspace you may be in and figure out what there is to do and how you are going to do it. It is to make a plan of everything that has come up and will come up, and start to formulate a way to effectively ‘whack those moles’.
“I remember sitting down and managed to get a piece of paper and wrote down all the things I had to do, and there was a lot of things to do, but i remember knocking them down one by one,” explained Derek.
Tip 2: Learn How to Prioritise
This is a super important skill to learn in Year 11 and 12, and one that, often, a lot of students struggle with.
Being able to look at all the tasks you have at hand, analyse the consequences of not completing those tasks on time, and the value of completing others promptly is a great way to get on top of your work, reduce stress and stay motivated.
Writing up a list of your activities that need to be done from high priority to low priority (AKA high consequence and low consequence, i.e. failing an exam VS no consequence) and checking them off one by one is not only an effective way to use your time, but is also super satisfying.
Speaking of satisfying, it might also be a good idea to grab a nice whiteboard where you can freely write up your priority list, shift things around, and rub tasks off once you’ve completed them.
Derek said, “I could cross out the ones that I could wait on and stuff that didn’t really impact me that much and started knuckling down on the things that were really important because those were the ones that stressed me out the most.”
Tip 3: Build Healthy Habits and Stay on Top of Things
A lot of the success that happens in senior year is because of healthy and effective habits that you build!
A habit Derek mentioned helped him a lot was writing up a daily to-do list before each study session, and prioritising everything that needed to be completed in a certain period of time.
“At the very start of my study session, I would write down all the things I need to do because I feel like if you try doing stuff on a weekly basis, you’re going to miss out — there’s going to be a lot of holes there. So I feel like doing it day by day you make sure you miss out on nothing,” Derek shared.
Tip 4: Commend Yourself for All Your Victories
Often, students measure their victories by how grandiose they may be — perhaps getting 100 percent in an exam, or topping your class. Though this method is good for a large, short term boost of motivation, it lacks effectiveness in sustaining your motivation in the long term.
One way Derek combatted this was to celebrate all the wins he had no matter how big or small! Celebrating and commending oneself for things as small as completing a difficult maths question correctly in ample time gives you that small boost of motivation that can keep you feeling good, and studying for a long period of time!
Derek said, “If I were to do a maths question and it was a really difficult question but in the end I managed to do it, I would really commend myself on doing it, maybe even reward myself for a bit with like a five minute break or something.”
Tip 5: Trust the Process
Last but most definitely not least, trust the process! Year 11 and 12 can be a difficult time for a lot of students, but it is always important to place trust in yourself, your abilities and what you are doing so that you can back yourself and grow throughout the journey — no matter how difficult.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day, you can’t just expect to do well from the moment you wake up, you really got to build upon it!” Derek shared.
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Yasmin Hasan is a current first year psychology student at UNSW. She loves making art, playing piano or reading in her spare time. She graduated from high school in 2021 so her memories of her own high school experience are still quite fresh. She would love to use her own experiences to help other students build their confidence and improve in their academics!