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Mishree’s Hacks: Managing Distractions, Extracurriculars and Accelerated Biology

In this article, Matrix student Mishree, shares her tips for balancing HSC Biology with extracurriculars whilst keeping distractions at bay!

Do you wonder how students doing HSC subjects in Year 11 do it? In this article, Mishree Patel shares how her secret for managing distractions, extracurriculars and Accelerated Biology (HSC).

Me, Myself and I


My name is Mishree Patel and here is a little about myself!

School: Blacktown Girls High School

University Goal: Bachelor of Medical Studies / Doctor of Medicine

Career Goal: Neurologist

ATAR Goal: 99+

A Little About Me:

I don’t know if there are specific things that make me…me, but there are a few things I am really passionate about and they have a lot to do with who I am today.

I am a huge geek when it comes to the world of novels and cinema. What better way to spend a day than having a thriller book in hand or putting on a movie full of suspense and just getting lost in another world! These supposed worlds of the fictional characters feel like home to me. I could admire the beauty and skilful nature of my books and movies all day!

At school, Maths, Sciences and Health (PDHPE) have always been my strong subjects. I still equally enjoy English and HSIE subjects, but they just aren’t my cup of tea. I still equally enjoy english and HSIE subjects, but there’s a lot more room for improvement there.

Outside of school, I have a huge interest in keeping up with world affairs and politics, as well as learning more about ancient history.

Science and Healthcare have always been huge passions of mine. I know I definitely want to be a part of those fields in the future.

A few other hobbies and interests of mine include playing and watching sports, travelling, photography and community services.

Mishree's Hacks_ Managing Distractions, Extracurriculars and Accelerated Biology Vacation shots

So, enough about me now. In this article, I’ll be sharing some of my experiences in my senior years, where I learned and am still learning how to bounce back from failure and disappointment, and how to stay motivated while balancing studies with extracurriculars.

My Subjects In 2022:

My school has offered an accelerated Biology course that I am currently undertaking, which means I will complete my Biology HSC this year, and all my other subjects next year.

Preliminary subjects in 2022: HSC subjects in 2022:
  • English Advanced
  • Maths Advanced
  • Maths extension 1
  • Chemistry
  • Engineering Studies
  • Biology


Managing Distractions, Extracurriculars and Accelerated Biology – How to stay organised

Kanban boards and whiteboards

For those who prefer an old school and manual way of staying organised, printed or whiteboard planners are the best. A planner allows you to plan your time and the tasks that you need to do on any given day.

Mishree's Hacks_ Managing Distractions, Extracurriculars and Accelerated Biology kanban

A Kanban board you can set up on your whiteboard.

I most definitely don’t believe in such a thing as a scheduled day. For me, following a fixed day can get boring and maybe some days you might wanna change things around and watch that last episode of your favourite show before studying. But regardless, a planner can always be flexible and can prove to be a great way to stay organised.

Two strategies i use are a mini whiteboard just above my study space, and a kanban board, both proving to be really helpful. Not to mention, now there are many great kanban apps available to download. Just search “kanban” in the app store and many great apps will pop up.



If you’re not familiar with Notion, it’s a service that states it’s an “all-in-one workspace for your notes, tasks, wikis, and databases.”

I have used Notion for quite some time now, and it has been a life-changer.

It is not only a note-taking ap; it is a powerful tool to help you write, plan, or organise your mind and thoughts. You can mould it any way you want to build the documents, tools, and systems you need. With so many templates and widgets to satisfy the way you want your page to look, Notion will not let you down. I make my page aesthetic to keep me motivated when I visit it and tick off the to-do tasks. There are many more features you can benefit from.

Mishree's Hacks_ Managing Distractions, Extracurriculars and Accelerated Biology Vacation shots

A sample Agenda

Links that can help set up your Notion:

The steps you can follow to stay organised are:

1. List all your tasks in a “to-do” column or spare space.

Don’t worry about organising at this stage, just get everything down. Think about everything important that happens during the day from the moment your legs touch the floor to the time you get into bed at night.


2. Prioritise and sequence these tasks according to your day.

Tasks that need to be finished ASAP or tasks that will take a lot of time should be prioritised, and the rest should be ordered according to when in the day you intend to complete them.


3. Set realistic timetables.

As I said before, not every day goes as planned, so first get down timings for the tasks that you are sure will not change and need to get done in that set period of time. For other tasks, you may allocate timings and leave a few buffer periods to change things around if needed. Remember, always aim to complete a task 1-2 days before it is due, as it helps reduce the stress a lot.


4. Finally remove distractions where necessary.

I know phones are a big distraction even for me, so it is best to put your phone in another room or put it on silent and away from your eyesight.

How do you remove distractions, you ask? This is my method:

  1. Have a brief plan since the night before
  2. Turn off distractions that hinder your sleep schedule around 30mins-1hr before sleeping
  3. Practise meditation or mindfulness if it is a method that works for you
  4. Start off by setting smaller goals that lead to bigger goals so you don’t get demotivated along the way
  5. Use visual reminders either on paper or digitally if that is suitable for you
  6. Try to avoid electronic devices during your study period unless they are needed for studying, and maybe have breaks if you really need to use your devices. Use apps such as Flow, Tadama, Flora or Forest. These apps can help you stay focused.
  7. If you are easily distracted, sit in a space where others can see what you are doing and that can keep you in the mindset of not getting distracted


How to manage extracurriculars along with school and Matrix studies:

It’s always important to prioritise mental, emotional and physical well-being, especially during senior years.

So managing extracurriculars along with keeping up your studies is a must. As a matter of fact, I play badminton, run a club for raising awareness about issues in and around the healthcare systems in the world, participate in peer mentoring after school, and along with this, I soon start my gold level in the Duke of Edinburgh International Award Program.

To build on this, I attend Matrix for 3 subjects over the weekend, so most of my Saturdays and Sundays are dedicated just to Matrix.

Steps to keep a balance:

Set priorities – Remember, school and studies come first. Once you’ve prioritised school, you can then prioritise the rest of your activities in the order you see fit. Remember to make yourself a priority too. Self-care time is essential to recharge and be prepared for the next task at hand.

Develop a schedule – Using Notion or a manual planner, develop a schedule that helps you know what’s on your plate and will prevent you from overbooking yourself. You will also be able to set reminders for your upcoming events and develop a healthy routine that works for you. The better you manage your time and follow your schedule, the more fun you will find in your extracurricular activities.

Know your limits – If you feel like you have a lot to do and cant finish everything, it is best to ask for assistance or let loose on your schedule. For example, If you are leading a project or a club like I am, delegate your tasks and check in on your teammates for progress. You do not need to do everything yourself. Remember to put your health first. Get enough rest, recharge, and set your boundaries. This will always allow you to put your best work forward.


Matrix Teachers and Workshops are a key to success

Matrix teachers help you really passionately in class, whether it be any questions on Matrix content or anything from school.

So, I would most definitely recommend to every Matrix student reading this, to ask any questions they, even if it seems “dumb”! I can guarantee that you will learn something new.

Matrix provides great resources on their LMS (my.matrix). I find it extremely helpful to view each week’s resources before the lesson to get a quick hint as to what the lesson will be. And then, after the lesson, it’s easier to know what to make notes on, especially if the teacher has said it is useful or important to remember.

Although I have only been to a few workshops over the 2 years of attending Matrix, I have learned a lot from them.

Matrix workshops are a great source for revision and clearing any doubts you may have about the theory you’re learning.

Along with this, you can ask questions from your school assessments and get help to complete those too!

Things to remember in senior years

  • Stay organised – it may be hard, but keeping track of your progress, and upcoming events is crucial to not fall behind
  • Do subjects you like – I can’t emphasise how many people I know who did subjects because of scaling and now regret it, so to the people who still have the chance, choose wisely, do the subjects you enjoy, and you will achieve the best marks possible.Also, if you are already in year 11 and are regretting taking a subject, well you can drop it at the end and focus on the other stronger subjects!

My final advice to current and future senior students

  • Enjoy the journey – when people say this time of your life won’t come back again, they mean it, so enjoy it, go out, discover new places and make special memories. By all means, that shouldn’t be the only thing you do, but it’s essential to have breaks and enjoy it!
  • Never give up – work hard, aim high and get there. Even if you have no specific career path chosen, do your best in every subject, work on the weaker ones, and, eventually, everything will fall into place.


Written by Guest Author

We have regular contributions to our blog from our Tutor Team and high performing Matrix Students. Come back regularly for these guest posts to learn their study hacks and insights!


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