All Work And No Play? Tips for the New School Year
Want kids to do well at school? Sanction fun, and the work will happen.
Posted Aug 17, 2018
The start of the school year is a time for new beginnings. For those in the academic world, the start of the academic year provides the same impetus as January 1st. The first day of school can be a clean slate, a chance to practice effective behaviors. Don't squander it.
Thousands of college first year students have opportunities to make new friends, people who know nothing about them. Sure you may have been someone who did not take work too seriously, but now you are in college and no one knows how you were back home. You can reinvent yourself. The onset of school can be a time to magically restructure life, habits, and behaviors. But does this mean there is no time for fun? There are a multitude of opportunities to have fun and, to use common parlance, to ‘get crazy’. The key is the not go overboard. The solution is to ‘Plan your Crazy.’
Planning well is one of the most important skills a person can have. Good planning can make the difference between success and failure. Good planning can minimize stress. Unfortunately, too few people are good planners. Too many people do not plan at all.
Take the case of the first year in college. To many first year students, college is a time to do all those things not allowed in high school. Far too often students dive into school with no boundaries, no limitations, no plan. Every year I have junior and senior students express remorse over grade point averages blaming being too ‘out of control’ their first years in school. So with the school year starting, NOW is the time to plan to not make mistakes you will regret.
Whether it is getting homework done, or even completing all of life’s necessities, when we consciously and actively plan out what we have to do, the chances of getting it all done increase. There are some basic steps that are essential.
First, one needs to be aware of all that has to be done. If you are taking five classes, make sure you know how much you have to read, what you have to write or complete, and when exactly it is due. Use a calendar or app to jot it down so it is visible. One of my favorite planning apps is Wunderlist. This allows you to create checklists for all the different parts of your life and easily access it on a phone or a computer.
Next, make sure you factor in time for fun. Plan your crazy. When you do not plan for fun, fun happens anyway, distracting us, and derailing all our plans to do work. Too many folks end Fridays with great plans for all they will get done over the weekend. They do not factor in fun stuff (e.g., exciting Packer game?) into their plans and end up getting sidetracked and running out of time. Planning your crazy not only ensures you have fun, giving you a break from work, BUT (and this is particularly important for college students who can find themselves in trouble when they get carried away getting crazy) it is also a safety valve.
When you plan your crazy, you are consciously and explicitly expressing for yourself what you will allow yourself to do (e.g., stay up with pals till 1 am every now and then) and what you will not (e.g., illegal, unsafe activities). The more we directly express our plans, the more likely they are to work.
May the new school year provide many successful new beginnings. Plan wisely to get the most out of it.