THE BLOG
01/25/2016 03:09 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2017

What Successful Students Do Differently

My school introduced a new schedule this year. Which hasn't been a problem for me, but for many its effects have been detrimental. The-effects-of-Alan-Rickman's-death-on-the-Harry-Potter-fandom detrimental. There are a few key differences in the habits of those who are handling his death - I mean this school year - well and those who are not. Here are some of the things that successful students do differently - besides having a type A personality.

Time Management

Time management is number one on the list for a reason. Sometimes it's not enough to sit down and think 'I need to finish these three assignments by noon'. That's where time management comes in. A successful student will sit down and plan what they need to get done. For example, studying for tomorrow's test for one hour, doing the math assignment for 30 minutes and analyzing a poem for 20.

And they take breaks! You can not function at full capacity if you study for four hours straight. I like to abide by the 60/15 rule; after 60 minutes of working you can take 15 minutes to answer that text and check twitter. But then you need to get back to work. I like to set timers on my phone so that I don't take too long of a break (It's really so that I don't study longer than I have to).

Continuing with the theme of studying as little as possible your teachers aren't crazy when they tell you to start studying a week before the test! If you start studying at least 4 days in advance, you'll most likely be able to cut your study sessions down to half an hour a day. Compared to a four hour, 2 A.M. cram-fest, I'd much rather the earlier option. When it comes to studying for finals I start revising three weeks in advance, applying the same thirty minute sessions.

As a final note on time management, I cannot stress how beneficial a planner has been for me, especially as I study for next week's final exams. It helps solidify my study plan - and it's satisfying crossing each task off my list.

Independence

Independence pairs with time management. Not only do you need to be able to schedule your homework, you have to put away your phone and actually do it. Unfortunately, you can't rely on your parents or teachers to hold your hand and guide you through the land of homework to good grades.
Independence became a problem for the students at my school with our new schedule. Suddenly helicopter parents weren't there when students were supposed to be doing their work. Although the librarian may try to get them on track I often see my peers resume conversations - and Netflix - as soon as she turns around.

If you are constantly relying on your parents and teachers to remind you to complete your assignment, it's time to do that for yourself. If you have trouble remembering when things are due make note of the dates on your phone's "Reminders" app. Or you could write it down in your planner. I know a planner sounds dorky, but it really does help.

Lifestyle

This one sounds weird, but it does help. Brisk exercise before a test or study session has been proven to increase test scores and productivity. If you are able to, walk to school before your morning exam or do some jumping jacks before sitting down to do homework. Combined with a good diet your lifestyle should keep you focused at school, as well as helping you stay in shape.

The ideal lifestyle would also include at least 8 hours of sleep a night. I know this hard with extracurricular and just not being tired at an ideal time. But it may be one of the most tempting goals I can think of. So why don't more people go to bed earlier? To be honest I'm not sure. I know I feel awful when I only manage five hours of rest. However, I'm definitely still guilty of skimping on sleep in favour of an episode or five of Greys Anatomy.

My last lifestyle tip is drink water! I'm a strong anti-water person. Actually, I'm an anti-anything-you-drink-person, with the exception of smoothies. How I've managed to avoid dehydration thus far is one of life's many wonders. But if you aren't as anti-liquid as me you have no excuse! Swap out the soda for water to retain more information and stay on task.

If you lead a healthy life and can become an independent, time-managing machine you'll be fine. In all honesty you only really have to become an independent, decent time-manager to succeed. I'm only a decently good time-manager myself.
In Fact, I'm writing this post instead of studying for my finals.