Back to School: A Guide to Starting with a Bang!

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Leaving Certificate Group Project Note on Back to School: A Guide to Starting with a Bang!, created by PatrickNoonan on 08/09/2013.

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Whenever I was returning to school or university after a break, and starting into a new year, I was always filled with this fire in my belly that this time I'll keep on top of things. What I found however was that after initially doing some great work this fire soon dissipated. Eventually I learned how to keep this fire burning all year long and how to study to the best of my abilities!This guide is intended for those of you out there who also have this fire ( or want to have it!) and want to know how best to utilise this surge of proactivity. How to keep on top of things for the year ahead or how to re-ignite the fire once it goes out! We'll explore the importance of maintaining this mindset, of finding your underlying motivations for studying and how best to plan for the year ahead. There are plenty of tips and advice on how to effectively study.This guide won't give you any silver bullet that will end procrastination, no magic formula that will help you cram for your exams in 24 hours. It will simply outlined some tried and tested techniques that when followed will greatly improve your study.

'Well done is better than well said.'                                                                        - Bejamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. So it's fair to say he was an intelligent guy.However his success didn't arise from any genetic superiority but rather from his mindset. He was insatiably curious, hard-working and industrious. More-so than that he had a get up and go attitude. He didn't wait to do something, he just did.Having this mindset when it comes to studying will aid you greatly. This is not to say you shouldn't plan ( see the next page). But all too often people spend all their time and energy on creating the perfect timetable or tidying their desk instead of actually studying.This is the imperfect truth : that the best way to study is to actually study! Accept this fact. Incorporating this simple truth into your daily mindset will instil the idea that studying is something you want to do, not need to do!Once you approach study in this vein then everything after that will be easier and make more sense. Having this mindset from the start will also sustain you throughout the year.Now, this is not to say that that there won't be days when the prospect of opening a book or studying a mindmap will fill you with lethargic dread. This too happens! However. recognise this as a momentary blip.What happens with many people is that they have one bad day, skip studying and then use the fact that they messed up to rationalise skipping more study the next day.Having the right mindset from the start will ensure you have the right fortitude to overcome these blips and continue studying well all year long.   

"The Best Laid Schemes of Mice and Men Often Go Awry"

Having a good study plan when starting out will make your life much easier. To counter-act the mice and men effect you should follow this simple steps when creating your timetable.1) Start off in-depth When creating your timetable there is no problem in making the first few weeks as in-depth as you can. However, you shouldn't put the effort into going as in-depth for later months. Map out the first 4 weeks in good detail but anything after that just have a general outline. As these dates come closer you will have a better understanding of your priorities and your study habits. These insights will help shape your timetable then.2) Set target datesMark in exam dates, due dates -- essentially any key dates that you have. These will help put your study in context and help you decide how to prioritise your study. You should also set some target dates for yourself. These could be anything like to have a full polished drafted of your essay due on a certain date or a day where you take stock of how much of your curriculum you've covered and which areas still need work. These dates will be personable to you and they can be anything!3) Be RealisticIf your study timetable only allows you 3 hours to sleep and 4 minutes to travel to school then it is way too full. You need to cool your jets and take stock for a moment. Having a timetable that you can't actually stick to and study with is pointless-- it's just wasting your time. So when creating your timetable you need to make sure that what you put down you will actually do!4) Be FlexibleHowever, as I say above, the best laid plans of mice and men and all that!That is why you need to have a certain level of flexibility built-in to your timetable. If your timetable falls a part if you miss one study block then it is not a good timetable. You should be able to occasionally skip or miss a study block for whatever reason. You can make up the difference at a later date. Bear this in mind when planning your study.5) Don't forget your family and friends!Most people seem to think that they should only outline their study in their timetable but it is also very beneficial to allocate certain time for family and friends and also any hobbies or after-school activities you do. All these aspects shouldn't be abandoned as they are essential for a healthy and happy life. They also act as an added incentive to still to your timetable as these can be used as rewards for sticking with it.

Having the right mindset and having a realistic and flexible timetable will definitely help you keep that fire alive all year long. However, you will also need more! The best way of keeping your zeal fro studying up throughout the year is to have clear and realistic goals of what you want to achieve.Studying is never just about getting all A's on your report card. Yes, this is nice but you should always be aware why you want to get all A's.Do you want to go to University?Or Graduate top of your class?Do you want to ace a class so you can get your dream job?You need to find your motivation for studying and incorporate this into your mindset and your study plan. This will doubley reinforce all the work you've done before.Having this motivation interwoven with your study will help keep that feeling alive all year long. It will also act as an extra motivating force whenever you're feeling tired or come across a blip.

Start the Year with a Bang!

Be like Benjamin Franklin and get stuff done!

Find your Motivation!

Starting with a Bang!

The Importance of Planning

Having the Right Mindset

How to Keep the feeling all year long