Dear Kid,

It can be surprisingly easy to lose focus, not only when you’re listening to Great Uncle Bubba tell that same fishing story again, but in class (zzzzz), in a sporting event (Super Bowl anyone?), in life.

Put me in Coach! I'm ready to play! DearKidLoveMom.comSometimes getting back in the game isn’t too hard. A friend Gibbs-slaps you on the back of the head, wham, you’re not sleeping in class any more. Longer term, you vow to get to bed at a reasonable (ish) hour. Then you get together with that slap-happy friend and compare notes so you’re sure you didn’t miss anything. Poof, you’re caught up.

Sometimes it’s a little harder. You know you’re behind in studying, you know you should get to work, you know it’s important, and yet there you are, staring intently at the ceiling wondering why you still haven’t opened a book.

Five Tips for Getting Back in the Game

Here are five tips for building a recovery plan.

Move around

It is very hard to get working when you’re staring at the ceiling. Or the TV. Or the inside of your eyelids. If you’re having a really hard time getting started, start by moving around. Maybe take a quick walk around the building or over to the library. Certainly, sit up and find an active sitting position (at your desk is a good idea).

Set little goals

Studying huge amounts is daunting at best and can be overwhelming. Don’t tell yourself you have to learn three chapters of Bio in one evening. Instead, tell yourself you need to read one section in the next half hour. Easy peasy. Reward yourself with a quick text to your mother. Then set the next little goal. You’ll be cruising through the material without realizing how much there is.

Have an accountability partner

Once you get past the ickiness of the buzzphrase, you’ll discover you’re already doing this. Having a workout buddy or being part of a review group are good ways to be sure you’ll get the work (or workout) done. Another way is to agree to text a friend when you’re about to start your homework and agree to meet for a coffee when you’re done. Or just to text. Or whatever.

The point is we’re more likely to get something useful accomplished if someone else knows we’re going to do it and will probably ask if we’ve gotten it done.

Give something up

There seems to be a feeling today that one (and by “one” I mean “students in general”) should be able to have it all and do it all. Um, hate to be the one to tell you, but nothing could be further from the truth. Sometimes we have to make choices and give up something in order to have something else. You may have to skip the basketball game. You may have to shorten your workout to only 2 hours. You may have to get up half an hour earlier. You may have to wait until reruns to watch the next episode of How I Met Your Mother. You may have to shorten your shower to under 10 minutes. None of these things will kill you. (FACT: It is perfectly possible to get thoroughly clean in a short shower.)

The point is we only have 24 hours a day. You might not always be able to fit in everything you want to do. It can be really hard to make the right choice, but make the right choice anyway.

Remove the distractions

I am the queen of liking to work with the TV on. But I also know if I really have to concentrate, really need to pound through a bunch of stuff (rather than writing 6 words an hour), I need to turn off the TV, turn off the music, remove myself from cuddling with the puppy, and just Get to Work. Dull, Boring, and Highly Effective.

There are two important keys to a Recovery Plan.

  1. Plan. Once you’ve started to slip behind it can be very difficult to get yourself going. Have a plan for how you’re going to recover if you start to slide. Create your plan while you still feel in control of your situation. Write it down. Hopefully you won’t need it, but if you do it will be there.
  2. Do Something. Do anything. But get started. You know the saying “Even if you do a short workout, you’re still lapping the people sitting on the couch?” Same idea. Just get started. Get off the bench and get back in the game.

What other tips and tricks do you have for getting back on track if you’ve slipped a little?

Love, Mom

P.S. Stay safe—We’re supposed to be getting more winter weather.