Five Steps to Success

1. Set Goals

Setting goals gives you a chance to choose and set up your success. Goal setting gives you the short-term motivation and tools to help you achieve what you want longer term.

Goals should be SMART:

  • Specific: clear, objective and easy to understand
  • Measurable: easy to see and track
  • Attainable: realistically achievable
  • Relevant: related to your overall goals
  • Timed: tracked and assigned deadlines

Setting goals helps you: improve your self confidence, feel more motivated, perform better, achieve more, find greater focus and feel less stress and anxiety.

2. Prioritize Tasks

Setting priorities and arranging tasks in order of what is most important relieves stress and makes it easier to know where to begin.

To set priorities:

  • Record tasks on paper or electronically
  • Be sure to list all commitments and tasks, even social ones
  • Assign each task a level of importance, number them from 1-3 or A-C
  • Manage your time so that the top priority items are accomplished first

3. Manage Time

Sometimes being busier helps you to organize your time. When you have large open blocks of time, procrastination can easily set in. Learn to break time up into manageable pieces for doing work. Set a routine based on the times when you know you need to take breaks and when you know you study best. Be realistic and schedule enough time to complete tasks. Scheduling even a few minutes to get work started in advance helps to make sure you don't leave it to the night before.

Take Control:

  • Use allotted class time to start projects and get help from teachers
  • Try to create a routine that gets you in the habit of doing homework regularly
  • Keep track of how long things actually take to complete and use these guidelines when you set time aside in the future
  • Record short term (homework) and long term (assignments) tasks on a monthly calendar which will give you a quick visual reference of the work that needs to be done
  • Work with someone who can help break larger projects into manageable pieces, or who can help you work backwards to set priorities

4. Understand Motivations

Knowing what motivates you is the key to sticking to your goals. When most people lose motivation, they cannot regain focus because they did not understand what motivated them in the first place. We can say that we want to succeed, but if we don't know why, we will always be at risk of losing focus. Sometimes we are motivated by marks, treats, special privileges or offers and other times, we are motivated by encouragement positive feelings of confidence, self-worth, accomplishment and pride. Awareness of what motivates you keeps your goals in focus.

Stay motivated:

  • Keep visual, mental and sensory images of what factors motivate you
  • Set your goals so that they relate to your interests, what you are passionate about
  • Understand that some tasks feel meaningless and frustrating but are necessary to achieve your greater goals
  • Get help with difficult tasks, share in the expertise of others
  • Share accomplishments with others
  • Celebrate all of your successes

5. Stay Focussed

Whenever and wherever you work, concentrate and stay focussed so that you can work efficiently. Reaching for your phone for only a minute at a time has a greater impact than you think. Without you even realizing it, your mind is still processing the transaction long after you have put it back down. It is possible that after even a 1 minute distraction, your mind may take up to 15 minutes to fully engage back into the work you were doing. Don't just plan to study for a long period of time; plan to study in shorter blocks of time but with fewer distractions and greater emphasis on the quality of your concentration. Make a commitment to yourself about your use of technology. Rather than punishment and avoidance, which will be a constant distraction of curiosity, allow yourself to take texting, calling and gaming breaks.

Avoid distractions:

  • Position yourself in class away from distractions (friends, windows, doors, clock)
  • Hide, mute or turn off on-screen pop-ups
  • Do paper and pencil work away from the computer if it is not required
  • Build in times for technology breaks and learn to exercise self-control
  • Have an established "school work" time where distractions are off limits
  • Work in a space that helps you focus best (quiet or loud, with or without people or music- whatever helps you concentrate)