Dear Nedlam,

I’ve been having a lot of trouble working hard in school this quarter since summer is almost here and I literally couldn’t care less about school anymore. What can I do to stay focused/motivated and keep my grades up?

Distracted

 

Dear Distracted,

It’s easy to understand why you’ve been so distracted lately, what with the warm weather, it being the fourth quarter, and the fact that summer is only about a month and a half away. However, as you already know, just because it’s closer to summer doesn’t mean that the last quarter isn’t as important as the other three and it deserves just as much effort as the others. I know it’s tempting to slack, to think less, to not care as much and relax more, but the time to relax is in the summer, and you’ll feel a whole lot better next year knowing that you did all you could to help future you. As for strategies to keep yourself on task? I’ve found that getting my homework done right when I get home is really helpful. Getting it done first gets it out of the way so that afterwards you don’t have to worry about getting all of it done later. I also recommend putting all of your electronics far away from you (tv, cell phone, computer, etc.) because no matter how many times I tell myself I can do work with music or a tv show on, I always end up getting really distracted and don’t finish my work till late at night (or early in the morning which I DO NOT recommend).  Another thing you can try is to get regular sleep, since it’s much easier to be distracted or not want to put in as much effort if you don’t have the energy to try. As for getting work done in school or focusing in school, I think it’s important to realize your priorities. While it may be totally fun sitting and talking to your friends, can’t you do that later? I know it sounds like I’m nagging, but I just mean if a lesson seems like it’s really important, or a worksheet absolutely HAS to get done, then maybe it would be a good idea to move away from others who could distract you. But then again, for some people, having others who understand the material assist them in understanding can be really beneficial. It all depends on your personality, but if you are assisted by a fellow student, make sure you are just learning from them not gleaning the answers since you’ll probably need to know how to do whatever it is you are doing for a test or quiz at some point (and plagiarism is illegal too). Sometimes it’s also helpful to take notes on whatever the teacher is explaining even if the teacher doesn’t tell you too, that way you have to listen to them in order to take the notes, and not only do you have a copy of what went on in class in case you need to reference back but you also partially memorized it by writing it down. Going after school for extra help is also great if you are falling behind or don’t understand a certain concept. I know it probably feels like the last thing you want to do is be in school more than required, but sometimes pushing yourself to put in that extra effort to understand will help you in the long run. What I have also found, is that while doing all of these things can help, sometimes the hardest part is to mentally be able to focus, and try harder. In order to help make myself be able to do what I need to in order to succeed sometimes I think about how I’ll feel in the future if I don’t get all of my work done. I also try and do either the hardest bit of homework so that way I’ll feel like I’ve gotten it out of the way, or the easiest, so that way I’ll sort of dip my toe into the workload and then take the plunge. Sometimes I’ll convince myself that I can’t move from my chair until I finish everything (this is partially why I recommend getting regular sleep so you don’t end up napping). The phrase, “Mind over matter,” is a true one, sometimes all it takes is finding ways to push your mind over your instincts and doing what you have to get done. Hope this helps! Good Luck!

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