1. How to stay organized
The most effective strategies for staying organized are also the simplest: a planner to keep track of assignments and plans, dedicated notebooks or folders for each class, and timers to keep you on task. Spend just five minutes after dinner making sure you have everything you need for the following day, and you’ll save yourself significant time and energy in the long run.
2. How to take a break
Forcing yourself to just “power through” will lead to sub-par work. For every 55 minutes of focused concentration, allow yourself five minutes for a quick walk, some simple stretching, or just inane internet browsing.
3. How to manage their time
Plan ahead! Eliminate stressful surprises by using your planner to identify your busiest weeks in advance. By doing this, you can plan to dedicate other times to longer term assignments, so you’re never caught off-guard.
A Signet colleague took a class at Harvard in which the students wrote a long paper on a topic of their choice. After it was graded, they were instructed to write the same paper, but in half the length. This continued until the original paper was condensed into just a paragraph. Following a similar approach can help ensure that every word you write is deliberate and meaningful.
5. How to work well with others
Eliminate the chaos commonly associated with group projects by clearly identifying what needs to be completed at the beginning, identifying and utilizing each individual’s strengths, and setting clear periodic due dates. Don’t wait until it’s due to find out a piece hasn’t been completed!
6. How to stay focused on the task at hand
There are constantly going to be distractions around you, but the internet presents an especially difficult challenge to students working on a computer. It’s impossible to produce your best work when you’re trying to focus on multiple browser tabs. Luckily, there’s an app for that.
7. How to study for an exam
One of the most common issues students have with studying is that they focus on the material they already know, rather than the material they don’t yet understand. While it can be frustrating to focus on a concept you just don’t get, getting help from a resource (a tutor, your teacher, a friend, etc.) will save you from a poor grade and subsequent stress.
8. How to write a thank-you note
Never underestimate the power of a handwritten note. Your teachers will remember the heartfelt note you sent them after they wrote you a recommendation, and future employers will appreciate the thoughtful follow up after you interview for a job. My boss at Signet still mentions the note I sent after my initial interview. It’s an essential life skill best developed as early as possible.
Is it in the morning? The evening? Do you work best while listening to music? In complete silence? Use your high school years to experiment with different study settings to find out where and when you’re most productive.
10. How to ask for help
There is never shame in asking a question. Too many students find themselves confused because they didn’t understand a core concept when it was originally taught. What you learn in high school will follow you through college and beyond, so asking a teacher or tutor to help you understand something as soon as you feel lost is absolutely necessary.