Back To School Tips for Routine & Focus
It’s hard to believe it’s back to school time already. This time of year is a lot of change for both students and parents, so it’s important to utilize tools and tips that can help everyone get back into their routines with as few challenges as possible.
This may call for reorganizing your entire day compared to your summer routine, which includes shifting sleep habits, planning and preparing healthy meals and snacks, managing time wisely for academics and extracurricular activities, and fitting in self-care.
Let’s break each of these down and focus on tips that can help you ease into the back to school routine.
- Shifting sleep habits is a matter of resetting your body clock, which is impacted by hormones, body temperature, and environmental factors like light/darkness and noise/quiet, according to Everyday Health. There are a few simple tips you can follow to reset your body clock, but it takes some time.
- Begin by sticking with a consistent wakeup time each day, which is easily accomplished if you want to get to work or school on time :-). On the weekends, try not to sleep more than an hour later than your weekday wakeup time.
- We want to aim for an average of 8 hours of sleep per night, so you will want to slowly adjust your bedtime. Every 2-3 days, go to sleep 15 minutes earlier while maintaining your consistent wakeup time until you have reached a bedtime that allows for a full 8 hours of sleep per night.
- Skip the naps. Even if you feel more tired with your earlier wakeup time, slowly backing up your bedtime is better for resetting your body clock than napping and going to sleep later.
- Turn your screens off an hour before bedtime. Read a book, listen to a podcast, or do some stretching before bed instead.
- Keep your lights dimmed and turn down any loud music, or other noise, an hour before bedtime to ready your body for sleep.
- Planning and preparing healthy meals and snacks is incredibly important and can impact your level of focus and concentration. Some ideas to make eating healthy easier and less time consuming include:
- Buy your vegetables pre-cut to avoid prep time or use frozen vegetables
- Choose a day of the week (I like Sunday best) to do a lot of cooking all at once. You can then portion them into single serve containers, making meals easy to grab and go!
- If cooking is not your thing, purchase pre-cooked chicken (frozen grilled breasts or rotisserie), or nitrate-free deli meats, and a bagged salad for a few easy throw-together lunches!
- Keep hard boiled eggs on hand for a quick, healthy, protein filled snack!
- Aim to eat more plant-based foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts. They take less time to prepare and are great for brain health!
- Time management can be challenging after drifting along casually in the summer with fewer responsibilities. But once school starts, the responsibilities and schedules start to stack.
- Limiting “screen/social media/news scrolling” time is incredibly important for more efficient time management. We all spend too much time on our phones and could likely get more done if we limit this. While some of it does come down to will power, another way is to schedule very specific timed-slots for screen time. For example, you can give yourself 15 minutes in the morning that is measured by an alarm, and another 15 minutes at lunch, measured by an alarm, etc.
- Using a calendar is a great way to manage your time, and it’s never too early to start. Google calendar is my preferred method because you can color code and share it, but there are many other calendar apps or hand written planners that also work. The key is then remembering to look at your calendar on a daily basis (or multiple times per day if you are like me). You can anchor this task to a habit you already do regularly such as brushing your teeth or eating lunch.
- Using rewards for avoiding procrastination can be effective to manage time more efficiently. For example, you may schedule something for a specific time in your calendar, and reward yourself with time with a friend or watching your favorite show once you complete that task. I strongly recommend working with someone else for accountability in this way.
- Self-care can feel much harder to fit in when we are busier, and yet that’s when it is even more important! Self-care can look a lot of different ways:
- A daily 30 minute walk can improve mood and health. And bonus points if you can find a pretty spot in nature for your walk!
- Try just a few minutes of relaxation breathing or meditating each day to help you feel more grounded.
- Keep a gratitude list and remind yourself of it daily!
- Make plans with a loved one or friend to hang out and connect in person.
- Do something special and out of the ordinary like getting a massage, going out for a special lunch, or taking on a new hobby.
Don’t hesitate to reach out for help if you find yourself struggling. Transitions can be hard, and no one can do it all on their own. You are not alone, and there is no reason to take on everything yourself. Find a friend, family member, or a coach to help you create new habits to make this year your most successful yet!
My passion is to help you live your healthiest and most harmonious life, but in a way that’s realistic and practical for you as a unique individual on this planet. My philosophy is all about “balance,” never a diet since a diet is not sustainable for life, aka Kill The Diet.