Junior year— the home stretch before college applications— can be one of the most stressful times of a high school goal digger’s life. With SATs, AP classes, volunteering, summer programs, and scholarships, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Luckily, there are several easy ways to manage precious time and make the most of your junior year.
Maintaining a daily planner can do wonders for your stress level. At the beginning of each week, I take note of upcoming due dates and I break them up into bite-sized daily tasks. This allows me to spread out my work more evenly, as I always take social events and extracurricular commitments into account when planning. By working week-to-week, rather than day-to-day, I can stay on top of my “big picture" goals. Best of all— when my day’s work is done, I can relax, because I know that the rest of the work will be handled at later date.
Be a Task Manager
I religiously update my daily to-do list, which I keep organized with color codes and symbols. (For example, tests are highlighted in orange, while social events are a more pleasant purple.) Rather than recording due dates, I record “work dates" during which I plan to complete portions of different assignments. Since I find great satisfaction in checking off boxes, I always include “checkpoints" within major projects in order to keep better track of my progress. Also, if I find myself unable to finish all of the tasks on a given day, it’s no problem at all. I simply move the remaining tasks to the next day’s list.
Spreadsheets Are Your Friend
To manage my scholarship applications, I keep a detailed spreadsheet with columns for “fast facts," including due dates, recommendation letter requirements, and more. Whenever I discover a scholarship or program that interests me, I enter these facts into my spreadsheet for quick reference. I have set my spreadsheet to automatically list the applications by order of due date. Google Drive is an excellent tool for managing applications, as you can access your work from any device and you can easily collaborate with others.
Be Thrifty With Time
Another benefit of using Google Drive is that my homework is always at my fingertips, so I can take advantage of spare minutes— on the bus, waiting in line, etc.— to get ahead. By bringing work with me wherever I go, I’m more likely to be efficient with my time. More importantly, high school has taught me the importance of prioritizing my tasks— by knocking out smaller assignments in between class periods, I have more time to work on big-ticket items after school, which translates to longer naps.
It’s hard to get into the “mood" to work when deadlines are piling up and Netflix is calling your name. While it’s important to recognize when you genuinely need a break, there are several ways to stave off lethargy. Several of my friends swear by time management methods, such as the Pomodoro method, interspersing work with relaxation. Personally, I motivate myself with music, loading up my phone with special playlists with names like “Grind Time" and “Beast Mode." On lazier days, I find myself needing to take a jog outside, eat a snack, and watch college acceptance videos in order to inspire my inner hustler.