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3 Steps to Starting the School Year Off Right


ESM’s Justin Scott (above) shares three sure-fire ways to start this year out on the right foot.

It’s September, which means students everywhere are saying those three dreaded words: summer is over. Yes, here in California, the heat and sun will carry on, but students from Stockton to San Diego are filing back into school classrooms for another year of enrichment and challenges. We want to take this opportunity to remind everyone how important it is to start the school year off on the right foot. Here’s what that looks like:

1) De-clutter. Keep your workspace clean, and keep your backpack organized. Save yourself the headache of lost worksheets and jumbled notes – keep everything in its right place and you will find it easier to get stuff done.

“Messy stuff irritates me. I don’t like messiness. If you leave something around my house, I’ll tell you to move it back, clean it up, throw it in the trash - just get rid of it. I need stuff neat, organized. And once I start cleaning stuff, I don’t stop until it’s done.”  – Russell Westbrook

2) Get a calendar.  By creating a visual representation of your schedule, you’ll have a better idea of when you’re busy or not – meaning you’ll make better choices about when and when not to be social.

“For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.” -Anonymous

Of course, to fill your calendar, you’re going to want to know the most important dates of the year. If you’re a junior or senior, those will include SAT/ACT test dates, AP test dates, and college application deadlines. If you’re a freshman or sophomore, those might include project due dates, club fairs, or college info nights.

3) Set goals. One of the best ways to stay focused and organized for the year is to set goals. What kind of student do you want to be? How hard do you want to push yourself? Will you stay in that one weekend to bump the B+ to an A-? Come up with actionable goals and write them down. Make them visible on a daily basis. If you can see the promises you made to yourself every time you sit down at your desk, you will be more likely to keep them.

“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” – Tony Robbins

For underclassmen, the process of planning and organizing may seem like it can wait. But take it from us: the students who get organized and serious about their goals early have a smoother ride through high school. That shouldn’t be surprising: if you’re organized and committed in 9th grade, chances are you’re going to rise above your fellow students academically. Then, come 11th and 12th grade, you won’t be scrambling to make up for lost time – you’ll be comfortably reaching lofty goals and setting new, higher ones. Don’t be the stressed-out senior frantically trying to make up for two disorganized years that resulted in weak freshman and sophomore years.

“Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life.” – Immanuel Kant

Nobody expects students to have all of this down pat – after all, most adults are still figuring out how to most effectively plan and organize their lives. Yet that’s why it’s so important to start now: habits are hard to establish, but once you’ve made them routine, they are much easier to maintain.