Struggling to find the perfect balance between your study life and your personal life? Well, in this article, Prinica shares her experience with doing this!
In this article, Year 12 regional NSW and Matrix+ Scholarship student, shares her best advice to balance study and life to make the most out of your senior years whilst achieving academic success.
St John’s College
Doctor of Medicine, Monash University
In 2021, I will finally be entering my HSC year – the last year of my high school career! Although I attend a regional high school in the central west, I make sure my goals to move to the bustling city certainly don’t overshadow my interests in partaking in the small festivities of my lively hometown. The heat of the weather has encouraged my love for the water and called for leisurely pool swims and evenings walking my dogs around the gully.
In regards to my academics, I have a deep passion for English. English has always been one of, if not my most, favourite subjects throughout my schooling life. I love to write creatively and read novels in my spare time. If asked my favourite author at the moment, I would definitely say Stephen King, but my childhood was strongly moulded by Enid Blyton who appealed to my delight for adventure and the wild imagination.
What’s so interesting about our imagination is its infiniteness. How are our ideas conjured? What fuels our scope of language and thought?
It is this very fascination which garners my interest into the world of science! I believe it always helps to understand the way in which we live and interact, and that we are able to expand our vision because of it!
When I first commenced the Year 11 course, the stress and anxiety about assessment due dates, ranks, preliminaries, extracurriculars and work hit me in my third week of the course.
It was the chaotic nature and unkempt appearances at school which made me realise that I needed help.
That’s when Matrix+ stepped in and helped me schedule my academic life in balance with my social life. Matrix+ is an easy, and accessible guide to learning and coming to terms with the complexities of a subject’s coursework. Not only was it a way to solidify the content I learned in school, but it also provided me with the upper hand with the newly-introduced concepts in class.
This huge advantage alleviated some of the stress which usually came along with learning a whole heap of new content across various subjects. By allocating some time to Matrix+, I was able to be much more time-efficient overall in my academics; spending time revising the more challenging content.
The theory lessons, the practice questions and particularly the Q&A discussion board all played key aspects in deepening my understanding of subjects, and helped me get ahead in class!
With Matrix+, you can learn from HSC experts through structured theory video lessons, gain practice with our comprehensive resources mailed to your door, and gain feedback through our Q&A boards and LMS.
Every day, I used my school diary to write down any homework tasks I had been given that day and the due date next to them.
From past experience, homework had always seemed like such a chore, something that I had to complete for the sake of not getting behind or even in trouble!
Sometimes all I would do was spend the majority of my time tediously completing every little bit of it and only sparing time for dinner. But this was not effective!
Something to remember, particularly for Stage 6 is that unfortunately, homework is not study.
But the endearing question is: how do I balance homework, study and my extracurriculars and not get worn out?
The answer is as above:
Spend your time wisely, and efficiently according to what you need help with most.
For example, if your Maths teacher assigns you a multitude of questions, the majority of which come easily to you, skip them and attempt the more difficult ones.
You save time, and have challenged yourself!
b. Research assignments
For research assignments, use Google Scholar to effectively locate credible sources and write them in a reference list to refer back to in future assessments.
Writing tasks can seem tedious, and a lot of the time, I find myself having a complete mind blank or spending too much time on one singular concept or analysis.
c. Freestyle writing
A special tip that I learned through Matrix+ English, is the art of ten minutes of free-writing!
When free-writing, it is important to write down anything that comes to mind without the concern of grammar, spelling or syntax – you’ll come back to it later.
By writing freely, the concepts in our mind become much clearer without the worry of “Does this make sense?” or “I don’t know if that’s relevant…”
You’ll find that once you start doing this, it will become much easier in exams to write concisely and cohesively under that daunting clock.
By applying these tips, I saved heaps of time which I could use on my extracurricular activities, going to work with a less stressful mind, and spending time with my friends and family!
In primary school, and even in junior High School, holidays are usually a time to get away from your studies and enjoy the pure bliss of life.
But unfortunately, there comes a stage when the workload increases, and so does the time you need to spend on completing it.
Don’t get me wrong – I would love if my schedule consisted of just sleeping in, going out with friends and binge-watching Netflix or Youtube. Who wouldn’t?
However, holidays are also a crucial time to revise what you already know, and get ahead for the new term.
That’s why when I study during the holidays, I establish a balance in everything.
There are two key things that I make sure to acknowledge during the holiday period:
Now as a teenager, there’s no lie in saying that I stay up late on my phone, falling down that endless rabbit hole of Youtube recommendations.
But at the same time, I find myself nodding off around ten-thirty at night before I force myself to finish that episode. However, it is paramount to listen to our bodies, especially during such stressful times!
Being well-rested is key when it comes to completing our tasks efficiently and gives us a greater chance to be successful.
Even with the infinite boundaries of the internet, there’s always room for boredom in one’s day.
You know the moment when you’re sitting on your bed, or standing in front of the fridge for the seventh time that day and you have absolutely no idea what to do? Use that time to study.
Whether it’s by flicking through your notes and highlighting, attempting those few hard maths questions you didn’t want to do before, or even by watching a few Khan Academy videos on that concept you didn’t really get in class – you’re studying and your future self is going to thank you when you’re knee-deep in classwork.
This way, you’re going to feel much more productive at the end of your day.
When I first enrolled into Matrix+, I thought to myself: How in the world am I going to cover this and my usual school tasks?
Well, after a while of thinking that it was just more things to add to my to-do list, I realised that they were far from that. In fact, it wasn’t until I cross-referenced my class notes with the Matrix+ theory lessons for a topic test, that I realised it was a valuable asset in enriching my understanding, and sometimes, provided a more detailed explanation than what I had received in class!
From there, I ensured that after every syllabus dot point I covered in class, I would write in additional notes from Matrix+ lesson.
During the holidays, I would spend about one-hour daily corresponding what I knew to the theory lessons in Matrix+, and read through the Q&A discussion forum to see what other students were struggling with and to get feedback on my own work.
Sometimes it’s a matter of finding the right question before you look to the answer.
By doing so, I found myself understanding the content much more easily and completing the course questions quickly, and successfully.
I usually set aside an hour or so in the morning after breakfast to get on with my day, or around that quiet time in the afternoon, after lunch. In consideration to work or outings, I ensured that I would catch up sooner rather than later, and marked a reminder In my phone for when the ‘static’ time came around.
These daily achievements really help in reaching your goal in the long run, and still allow you the leisure time to do what you love.
One of the most important things to take away from any of this is that time management is the core to success! Academic success is a marathon, not a sprint.
Take swimming, or even running for example: the most successful always expend their energy in fragments, saving the majority of it for that last lap. The same goes for studying.
Now having some time for leisure is important – it’s healthy! But study and practice are also just as significant in the long run, particularly when aiming to achieve a long term goal.
Before I began Year 11, I designed a general weekly timetable on my laptop that had room for every subject, every job shift, outing and event that I was expected to partake in.
Now of course schedules change, but by having some sort of agenda helped me to be better prepared for anything that might have come up.
Even using Sticky Notes on your desktops are a good way to ensure you are keeping on top of it all. It was all about maintaining a balance!
This is an example of the weekly timetable I designed.
I usually allocated about 90 minutes of study/revision every day (not homework!) and about 2 hours on the weekend. If I had work that afternoon, I would catch up in a study period in school or the next day.
Remember, sleep is just as important – so try not to leave anything after a certain time at night.
I fight distractions by emphasising that study time is study time. Procrastination is one of the greatest skills any human being has.
The thing is, it’s so easy to distract ourselves when Netflix or Tik Tok is a few clicks away.
One of the more useful tips I’ve come across, particularly when I’m in a time crunch is to completely block out any distractions for 30 minutes.
Now 30 minutes may seem like either too short or too long of a time for some – and that’s ok! This period is meant to yield the optimal amount of productivity for you. Importantly, it is vital to note that “no distractions” means no distractions!
Some people use programs like Freedom, which are really helpful in blocking out distracting websites, or apps that might turn your attention away.
One of my all-time favourite apps to use to fight procrastination is Forest! Forest is a cool and environmentally-forward way to concentrate and helps people stay off their phones.
Users are able to earn credits, and grow virtual trees that rely on you refraining from your phone. It uses the credits you earn to plant real trees around the world!
Maintaining both your physical and mental lifestyle is crucial to sustaining healthy wellbeing.
Physical activity has been proven to enrich cognitive strength and provoke the release of dopamine ‘happy hormones’ in the body.
By setting time aside (aim for about an hour a day) for any form of physical activity, whether that’s by playing a sport, taking the dogs on a walk, swimming in the pool, or even playing Just Dance on the Wii, your performance will improve drastically.
By doing this, alongside drinking water, eating in balance and getting good sleep will be of pure advantage to you which you’ll come to witness in both your work and your mood!
Write your exam dates down anywhere it sticks. Adding it to your calendar, diary or laptop’s sticky notes will save you a great deal when it comes to establishing a study routine.
Once I’m home, I find it most helpful to print out or draw up an exam timetable and stick it up in two places: one next to my study desk and the other on the fridge.
That way, I’m reminded daily to prepare and study.
Depending on the number of upcoming exams and the time I have, I ensure that all my notes are arranged in a fashion that is easy to access when studying.
Another thing I do is to print out the appropriate syllabus dot points of the exam so as to cross-reference and ensure I’m spending time studying the relevant material.
Alongside the notes, I take in class, I also keep a tab of several other websites such as Matrix Education, Khan Academy and Edrolo which conveniently links its information to the syllabus.
Practice is key to achieving a high mark. A lot of this practice can be attributed to attempting a multitude of practice questions, whether it’s from the textbook, past HSC papers or third-party platforms such as Matrix Education.
By seeking out questions to practice, you’re training your brain to answer similar questions in your exam, and helping yourself to reach that ‘flow state’ during a time restriction.
The harder the questions you attempt are, the better and more efficient you’ll be in answering the intermediate ones. A good tip is to pay attention to the amount of marks appointed to each question.
This acts as a kind of guide as to how much time you should allocate to each question and really helps with understanding and answering questions much more efficiently!
Having a crack at the reality of it all is just as significant as revising the definitions or formulas for the concepts.