Not all time is created equal. I frequently overhear my high-school students talking among themselves about the amount of time invested into schoolwork. Competitive energy fills the room, with each student attempting to outdo the next when it comes to how many hours they put into a project or how late they stayed up the night before.
While the desire to be among the best is not lost on me, the metric used to assess this dedication and pursuit of greatness is flawed at best. Before entering college years, I implore students to learn to work smarter, maybe even harder, but definitely not longer.
Devise a plan of attack
Nothing great comes to fruition without careful planning. When time seems in short supply, diving right in often seems to be the best option, but this results in countless time wasted moving in the wrong direction, or not moving at all.
Dedicate your full attention to the task at hand
Put the phone down. Turn the TV off. Believe it or not, texting your friends about how much an assignment sucks doesn’t actually get much done (I know this from ample personal experience in my college days). We all think we can multitask, but multitasking decreases our cognitive ability. Not only will it take longer to complete a given assignment, but the assignment will also be of a lower quality.
Realize when great is good enough
Put your notes down. Stop editing. You can edit a paper forever. You can study an extra four hours. But it gets to a point where the return on investment is negligible. Learn to acknowledge when your input has resulted in an output that is exceptional. Perfection is alluring but also unrealistic. Get some sleep.
Take a step away
We all get stuck. Know when to change gears, take a step back, or ask for help. There is no shame in hitting a roadblock, but you can waste countless hours looking for the perfect word or trying to understand a topic you just cannot seem to grasp.
These ideas lend themselves not only to schoolwork but also to test prep. Chariot Learning has a clear, well-researched plan on how to get students their best test scores. By following this plan, utilizing the resource of their tutor, and giving 100% during tutoring sessions and practice tests, students have met their testing goals without being forced to dedicate even more outside time to preparation.