The Art of Preparation: How to Stay Productive When Nothing Is Due Tomorrow

At Green Ivy, we encourage our students to deliberately schedule two-hour daily “work blocks” dedicated to homework and studying. By blocking out productive periods ahead of time, students can assert control over their growing responsibilities. Those who use a paper planner consistently, for example, tend to benefit from increased productivity, sharpened time management skills, and stress relief.

Although our scheduling system is built to be straightforward, it does require a bit of flexibility. Some nights, as many students know, will involve heaps and piles of homework that seem impossible to knock out in just two hours. Occasionally, students will find themselves homework-free, without any tests or due dates looming. For students whose nightly homework loads tend to alternate between packed-to-the-brim and blissfully unburdened, the question becomes this: How can you make the most of your work blocks on lighter days in order to proactively reduce the anxiety of the heaviest days?

  1. Get Organized

As the semester grows more and more intense, many students begin to lose track of assignments, forget important due dates, and misplace useful study resources. On nights that you don’t have a lot of homework, it’s a good idea to use the leftover time in your two-hour work block to sort binders, update your planner, and check online for any upcoming tests, essays, or projects. Practicing strong time management skills will help you prevent anything from slipping through the cracks.

  1. Get Ahead

No homework tonight? That’s a perfect opportunity to get ahead on next week’s material. Even 15–30 minutes spent reading the upcoming chapter in math or history, for example, can help your brain grasp concepts more quickly when your teacher introduces them in class. Think of it this way: Taking time outside of school to get ahead is like enriching the soil of your brain. If you take the time to preview tomorrow’s content, new connections are more likely to take root when your teacher gives her lesson, and memorization will occur more naturally.

  1. Get Refreshed

Significant research has established that our brains are prone to forget learned information quickly—around 75 percent of new information after six daysunless we consistently engage with and review content. Therefore, using the extra time in your two-hour work block to review old chapters and tests can help you polish up all the skills you need to do well on projects, cumulative tests, and finals. First, make a list of all the sections you don’t fully grasp or remember. Then, go steadily through your textbook or the returned work in your binder and do practice problems to review rusty concepts.

  1. Get Creative

While studying, variation is key. In other words, you should try to study using as many diverse resources as possible. For example, you can bolster your understanding of challenging concepts from class by watching Khan Academy tutorials or taking notes from online articles on related subjects. You should always prioritize materials provided by your teacher, but when you have extra time on light homework nights, it pays to find creative ways to learn.

  1. Get Some Rest!

No matter how dedicated you are to your work, sometimes it can be more productive to sleep for an hour than to stubbornly study through a sleepless daze. Be kind to your body and mind. By taking time out of your daytime hours to commit to rest, you are investing in tomorrow’s success rather than, say, tiredly whiling away minutes on your phone. Consider the nightly routine of one of the most dominant athletes ever: LeBron James sleeps 12 hours per night, and his accomplishments in the NBA speak for themselves. Sleep is a basic necessity for champions of all stripes.

When you finish all your homework before your two-hour work block is up, it can be tempting to call up a friend or turn to your favorite hobby. We get that. However, in order to take your time management and learning skills to the next level, it’s important to capitalize on each and every precious minute of your scheduled work blocks. The extra grind (or sleep) on light days will dramatically relieve the stress of those inevitable rougher nights!







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