Just Say No!

As a high school senior, I remember coming home one day panicked. I had so many activities to be at, sports to play in, leadership roles to fulfill that I had no idea how I was going to get my homework done! It was a turning point for me. I learned to say one of the most important words in the English language, “No.” I resigned from a few clubs, fulfilling responsibilities and remaining on my favorite sports teams. I felt free! And I even had an afternoon or two to myself every now and then.  With pressure on our high schools students to succeed both academically and in extra-curricular activities, it is not uncommon to meet teens who are overworked, overwhelmed, and/or overcommitted. Sometimes, these students have been raised by parents who value that their children busy all the time, in an effort to keep them entertained, happy, or out of trouble. This isn’t to say there is no value in the activity. But, with finals approaching and pressure mounting, it is important to step back and say, “Just what is keeping me so busy?” “What is my priority? When you say no to someone who asks for help, whether it be on homework, or to come along to a club with them, it can feel quite bad. We inherently want to help others, especially our friends. Sometimes, though, we need to step back and set limits on our time and efforts and think about what is really important to us.  And, let’s be honest, your friend isn’t looking for you to come only some of the time. Or show up and be stressed about the English paper you should be writing instead. Imagine for a moment that you had only one thing to spend time on, let’s assume in addition to your homework. What would you want that one thing to be? How much time are you willing to budget for it? Now, what would be the second thing on your list? Are you willing to have your parents help you prioritize? If so, ask them for help! Learning to say the “no” word is going to help you lead a happier and healthier life. Imagine less stress, perhaps more free time, the possibilities are endless! When time starts to get crunched, just say...

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Wake Up Procrastinators

Writing this blog has taught me a few things, one of which is that I can be a good procrastinator. Many of us Jews can be quite good at this “skill” of procrastination – one which can get us into a bit of trouble, right?!  So, why do we do it? Some of us actually thrive off the rush of getting something done at the last minute and we may actually produce strong work under such work situations. But if you experience one situation of not getting your work done on time, and you may learn your procrastination can be quite problematic. For you procrastinators out there, here are a few tips on meeting those deadlines. 1. Give yourself a clear timeline, and stick to it! Let’s say you decide you will start working on your history project by 4 PM at the library. Stick to the plan no matter what. Make sure you let your friends and parents know what your plan is so that they don’t interfere. You may even invite a friend along for your study session, as long as the friend doesn’t serve as a big distraction! 2. Take a break We all work better with frequent breaks and unfortunately many schools do not take this into account. With block scheduling, high school students may be expected to sit in a class for as long as two hours. This is a long time for someone of any age to sit. Ask to go to the bathroom or get a drink of water, if allowed, to get yourself some time out of your desk. As you are working on your homework, give yourself a scheduled 10-15 minute break every hour, or maybe even give yourself a break after you finish each subject area to serve as a reward. Just be sure to get back to work quickly. 3. Stay off your electronic devices TV, Facebook, Twitter and what the Kardashians are up to can all serve as distractions from meeting your deadlines. Schedule the electronics into your breaks if need be but then flip them off when it is time to get back to work. 4. Find a comfortable and quiet place to work We all have our favorite spots to work and the ideal setting varies for each individual. Setting issues to consider include: Do you like sunlight or music? What type of seat is best for you? How warm do you like to be? Door open or door closed? Make your work space a place where you can be at your best. 5. Know when to quit Every paper needs more revision and that graph could be neater, but know when to quit for the night and get some rest. Sometimes a fresh pair of eyes in the morning is what is really needed to fix up your work. And sometimes we just need “let it go” and turn it in.   I’d love to hear your thoughts on procrastination and more, including what you’d like to hear about next month. Please comment...

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