A quick guide to starting the school year on the right foot

Look no further for the perfect back to school guide

Image by: Justice King
Josh studying at the library.

As each new school year begins, we often tell ourselves we’re going into the year that we finally get our readings done on time, submit assignments early and get enough sleep. However, those things are easier said than done.

With the school year starting back up next week, it never hurts to have a couple of tricks up your sleeve to help upholding these resolutions. Here’s a list of the best ways to start the year off right based on what has previously worked for me.

Reset sleep patterns

We’ve all heard that sleep is vital for our physical and mental health, daytime performance and healthy brain function. Yet, students often fall into a pattern of prioritizing their social and school life over getting their recommended eight hours. As the semester begins, do your best to rebalance these priorities and get an appropriate amount of sleep each night. This can be done by giving yourself a curfew for using electronics at nighttime, establishing a strict alarm schedule or even sacrificing your sleep-ins. While many avoid scheduling morning classes, waking up early for lectures can be a good thing because it forces you to develop a routine that prioritizes more productivity during the rest of the day.


The new fall semester is the perfect opportunity to start fresh, so organizing your internal and external environment is essential. There’s no better time to get rid of old clothes, books and other miscellaneous items you don’t need. As well as clearing out your old belongings, do your best to similarly de-clutter your mind. Start the year off with a fresh perspective by freeing yourself from worrying about past problems that can no longer be fixed.

Plan your activities

The life of a typical Queen’s student is quite busy, so it’s incredibly helpful to keep track of your class quizzes, club meetings and various upcoming events by writing them down in a planner or on a calendar. Making daily to-do lists and estimating how long each task will take is also an effective way to manage your time and stay on top of things.

Minimize distractions

Libraries are one of the few places where you can go to be simultaneously surrounded by people and silence, so going there to study is a good idea. In your efforts to minimize distraction by finding solitude, it’s also a good idea to leave your phone turned off or at home. It can be tough to resist a notification, so make it easy on yourself. Carving out a specific time every week to spend a couple phone-free hours in our beloved club Stauff is a great way to make sure your readings and assignments get done.

Balance is key

Taking short breaks in between study sessions is just as important as the studying itself. Allow yourself time to step away from your work to get exercise or hang out with friends. Exercise, such as running and yoga, have been scientifically proven to enhance your memory and mindfulness. And if you can’t make it to the gym that day, make time to keep in touch with family, have fun with your friends and pursue your own creative hobbies in between hitting the books.

Positive thinking only

You won’t always be able to control what happens, but you are in control of how you think and respond to a situation. Remember to try looking on the bright side when things get tough, because even the most devastating mistake can be an opportunity to learn.



back to school

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