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5 More Ways to Sleep Better and Become a Top Student


Last week I shared five principles for becoming a top student while still getting a solid eight hours of sleep a night. I followed these while earning a full academic scholarship to study at Duke University, where I did a double major at Duke and graduated summa cum laude.

In this second article, I’ll share with you the last 5 of 10 principles for being an effective and well rested student. (If you missed the first five, find them here!)

Principle #6: Stay motivated using practical strategies.

There will be times when you’ll feel unmotivated. You’ll feel like lying in bed all day. You’ll feel like watching YouTube videos non-stop. You’ll feel like doing anything except schoolwork.

Try a few of these practical strategies:

  • Reward yourself when you finish each task.
  • Work in short blocks of just 25 to 35 minutes.
  • Put up some motivational quotes. My personal favorite is this one by Jim Rohn: “Don’t wish it were easier. Wish you were better.”
  • Break tasks down into smaller steps so that they’re not so overwhelming.

Principle #7: Learn to say “no.”

If there’s way too much on your plate, you won’t be able to be a top student who gets eight hours of sleep a night – no matter how efficient you are. There are only so many activities you can juggle at once without eventually burning out.

What’s the simple solution? Learn to say “no.”

Develop a variety of ways of saying “no” politely, so you’ll be equipped for every situation.

  • Don’t participate in more than two to three extracurricular activities.
  • Categorize your friends and decide how much time to spend with each group.

Principle #8: Create systems for staying organized.

Being disorganized is a huge time-waster. So here are some tips to help you stay organized when it comes to (a) notes and assignments, and (b) email:

  • For notes and assignments, bring an accordion folder to school every day. Assign one section of the accordion folder to each of your subjects or courses. Assign one additional section to your incomplete homework.
  • For email, forward all of your school email to your Gmail account. Create as few email folders as possible. And go through your emails just once a day.

Principle #9: Work on one task at a time.

It takes time to get into the flow of an assignment, so finish one before moving on to the next. In addition, eliminate all forms of multitasking. No texting, watching TV, or checking your Twitter feed while doing your schoolwork.

Research shows that multitasking just isn’t possible. When you think you’re multitasking, you’re actually just switching between tasks. This reduces your overall efficiency.

Principle #10: Eliminate distractions.

It’s not just the urge to multitask that hinders students from being productive. For many students, distractions are an even bigger problem. Here are a few things you can do to eliminate or reduce common distractions:

  • Turn off notifications on your phone.
  • Reply to text messages only three times a day. Put this in your calendar as a series of mini-appointments.
  • Mute your group chats.
  • Delete all the social media apps on your phone.
  • Wear a watch so you don’t have to check your phone for the time.
  • Use headphones while you’re studying (even if there’s no music playing) so that others will be less likely to interrupt you.
  • Do all of your schoolwork at your desk, not on your bed. As such, you won’t be tempted to laze around in bed.
  • Tell the people around you when you’ll be doing your work. This way, they won’t interrupt you in the middle of your study session.

These skills will allow you to contribute more effectively, serve more meaningfully, and make a difference more powerfully. Now that’s an end goal worth working toward. Wishing you all the best on this exciting journey!

This blog was written by Daniel Wong, a certified youth counselor and coach who authored the bestselling book titled The Happy Student: 5 Steps to Academic Fulfillment and Success.

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