Back to the Grind: Executive Functioning Tips to Avoid Burnout

Getting back into the grind of school can be difficult. The habits of late nights, sleeping in, and procrastination are great over the summer, but will not fly as the school year gets back into full swing. Especially after almost three years of COVID limiting class time as well as extracurricular activities. Some may have forgotten how to stay on top of their work and most importantly, their mental and physical health.

According to UCLA health, very few teenagers get the sleep they actually need. Up until the age of 25, the brain is developing. You need at least 8 hours of sleep during these years in order to ensure proper brain development. When you are not well rested, you can have trouble waking up in the mornings, be irritable and tired by the early afternoon, and fall asleep throughout the day. All of these symptoms can lead to a drop in grades. Sleep deprivation can also lead to increased anxiety and a higher proneness to illness. Taking the time to rest and recharge will help you in the long run to reduce the risk of burnout.

The most important tactics for getting better sleep at night include not consuming caffeine after 4:00pm, developing a routine that includes exercise, and to avoid technology use right before sleep.
Another habit that many teenagers can slip into at the start of the year that will not set them up for success is procrastination. Utilizing a planner, setting reminders for yourself, and having reasonable expectations for dividing your time will help you break the cycle of procrastination. Studies show that a late night of cramming does little to enhance your understanding of material. Instead, use of the spacing method (studying material bit by bit over time) will lead to a much deeper comprehension and retention of material. Additionally, when studying, use of the test-retest method, where you review material, then repeatedly quiz yourself on this material will prepare you for a testing environment as well as cement your understanding of a topic and build confidence.
Set your habits now! It takes around 66 days to develop a habit. So if you start now, getting sleep, avoiding procrastination, and working to maintain your physical and mental health, you could be in peak condition for first semester finals!