Your schedule probably looks something like this: wake up, get dressed, go to school, muck around on your phone, go home, watch Netflix, panic about assignments, actually do assignments (if they’re due the next day), have dinner, sleep.

As well as being dull as fuck, this routine is problematic because your only real focus is school. Even if you’re sitting there thinking you’re not that boring, or your daily life includes a bigger variety of activities, it’s still common for us to set aside no time for themselves outside of school. The bubble of school life means that just attending takes up a huge chunk of your day, not to mention all the assignments, study and homework that you’re expected to be doing at home. Here’s how to break out of that bubble and have a life outside of school.

1. Decide what’s important

The first step is to understand why a life outside of school is important. When you’ve got a mountain of school work to power through it’s easy to get tunnel vision and forget anything else exists. You get stuck in the same routine and doing the same tasks every day. This is crappy first and foremost because nobody should ever do something to the point that it messes with naps and snacks, but also because it has follow on affects for every aspect of your life. The reality is too much study can be detrimental to your health and affect your sleep, mental health, concentration and diet. Not only that, eventually you get to the point where you’re lacking focus to tackle assignments, are too anxious to start work and just want to give up.

 2. Manage your day

The reality is you have more time than you think and the best thing you can do to actually have a life outside of school is to manage your time effectively. Of course, this is much bloody harder than it sounds and a lot of it comes down to how much you procrastinate. The best place to start is to actually schedule yourself free time, rather than telling yourself you can have a break once you finish all your work. You’ll find the pressure of having shorter time periods to do your work will mean you focus more to get it done (think about that time you left your essay to the last minute and had to spend a super focused three hours smashing it out).

3. Start being accountable to other people

It’s fine to say you’re going to schedule time for yourself but when it comes to actually doing it, you’ll probably find that you’ve just been given another assignment or have to study for an upcoming exam and just don’t have the time to do anything else. This is where you need to bring in activities that make you accountable to other people like a sporting team, club, organisation, or art/music/language class.

They’re great because they let you foster a passion or skill and make you an interesting person and all that jazz, but also because the weekly nature of the activity means it sets a routine for you to follow; the responsibility means you’re less likely to bail on it. 

4. Reach out to your friends

Most likely, your friends are going through much of the same shit and looking for ways to break out of the school bubble too. Reach out to them and you’ll be helping them as much as you’re helping yourself. Go watch a movie, sit in a park, party, go to a concert, go to each other’s houses and put on Netflix while you individually scroll through your phones if you have to – just know that the social contact is important. If you’re struggling to find friends that won’t bail (or every time you plan to hang out you want to bail) choose something that requires minimal effort, like watching a movie at home, walking your dog or napping together (honestly, try it).

5. Find things you like to do on your own

Just because your friends are busy, or you can’t find people to do things with you, doesn’t mean you can’t have a life outside of school. Find things you like to do anyway and be comfortable in doing them alone. Often you’ll realise that things can even be better without anyone else around, like exercise, hiking, going to be beach, or going to the cinema (Incredibles 2 has just come out so it’s the perfect opportunity). It can be something as simple as going for a drive but doing something that lets you focus on yourself and gets your away from school is going to pay off in the long run then trying to get through another study session.

jo trans  @ivy.wells

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