Beyond Study-Skills
Chris Golden
By Chris Golden
Middle School Learning Specialist
April 22, 2019
In my job as a middle school learning specialist, I spend a good deal of my time working with students to improve their organization of materials, their work productivity, their time management skills, and their ability to just plain “get stuff done.”
I love this aspect of my job because I feel that I am truly teaching life-long skills that, if solidified at an early age, can make a huge difference to one’s success in high school, college, and beyond. When advising students, I preach much of what you would see in any student survival guide; use a planner on a consistent basis, create daily to-do lists, prioritize your tasks, plan your work periods for long-term projects to avoid last minute, stress-filled all-nighters, etc. While the bulk of the strategies I suggest to students pertain most directly to their life as an academic, there is a set of suggestions that I feel will make them a happier, more balanced, and fulfilled person in general. Below are some of the ones that have had the greatest impact on me and my life as a teacher, husband, and parent. Using these strategies has helped me reduce stress, avoid procrastination, maintain a balance between my personal and professional life, and allowed me to truly focus on the things that I feel are most important and fulfilling to me as a person. My suggestions below include various books that I have read that have greatly informed and influenced my thinking on productivity, life balance, self-fulfillment and calm/stress-free living. Enjoy!
Build Habits
  • I have found that consistency, habits, and routines minimize decision fatigue.
  • When ordinary tasks become habitual, routine and consistent, your mind becomes free to live in the moment and not perseverate your to-dos.
  • Consistent habits and routines lower my stress levels and make my life more enjoyable.
  • Discipline and motivation are a finite resource and can be exhausted. I find that this not case with habits and routines.
  • If you fall off a good habit, don’t beat yourself up or abandon it, just get back on track.
Create a Daily/Weekly Schedule
  • Try creating a week-at-a-glance schedule that can be printed out each week.
  • For reoccurring daily/weekly tasks, set regular time frames to complete them. Again, build routines and habits to free your mind.
  • Plan to do your toughest, most challenging tasks during a time frame in the day when your energy and cognitive strength are at their highest
Seek Clarity
  • When given a task, immediately think about whether you are currently capable of performing the task.
  • If you’re unsure of how to do something, seek clarity by asking questions as soon as possible.
  • Procrastination usually stems from not knowing how to do the task.
Minimize Multi-Tasking
  • Few people can do it and produce quality work.
  • It ends up being less efficient.
  • Practice working with a sharp, focused effort. Practice Mindfulness
  • Even 5-10 minutes of mindfulness/meditation per day makes a HUGE difference in my ability to remain calm and focused.
Get Enough Sleep
  • Sleep is the most underrated performance enhancer.
  • It’s been reported that a person who is chronically under-slept has the same reaction time as someone intoxicated.
  • Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, but I find that when I am under-slept, everything in my life suffers.
  • Forest Ridge Blog