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If you could go back in time and give yourself any time management tips, what would they be?

I have not done a great job managing my time, but I am working to get better at it as I finish up high school career. I know that I will have a lot more free time in college, and I do not want to spend it all binge watching Netflix. #thankyousomuch


If I could go back, I would have sought out help through my university's counseling center much sooner. If you start feeling demotivated or apathetic about your college work, it could be a warning sign for depression, anxiety, or something similar. No shame in getting help and learning how to manage and overcome that, and the sooner the better. When we know and understand the root of these behaviors and feelings, better time management follows. Chrè Davis Parnell, MSEd

Outstanding advice. I suffered from depression my college years and it was a source of alienation that eroded my self-confidence. Getting treatment early is the best course. Drew Mitty

Howdy from Texas Tara, Chicago is such a busy place, there is so much art and good food, go out and have responsible fun with responsible people! INFLUENCER HABITS 1. Make it a point to sleep on a select time to feel refreshed every day 2. Partake in exercise as if it was a normal thing like brushing your teeth even if it means waking up to walk thirty minutes 3. Pick a food or meal plan that works with your body along with hydration 4. Repeat strong affirmations as well as words of mercy to yourself to become better the next day These reinforcer habits contribute to your overall lifestyle for building the best reputation and self esteem Nasi Ola - Growing Educator

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34 answers


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Natasha’s Answer

For me, the biggest thing is keeping a log of how you spend your time. You'd be shocked at how long you can spend idly scrolling your twitter feed etc. There are some great apps that can help you do this. I've also had deals with friends and teachers that I check in with them every few hours.


The other thing which has been mentioned is a to-do list. At my college we call them "Done is Good" lists and attach little rewards for each thing. It makes the World of a difference!


Through the different applications there are those who accompany you and help you improve your level and find a job that matches your profile MACC MIND

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Sudha’s Answer

I would invest in my mornings. Be a morning person. Start your day by waking up roughly at the same time, with a good bedtime. Wake up, do some stretches, meditate and at first journal your brain dump of ideas and a to-do list of what you want for the day. Update your calendar with appointments - make everything an appointment, including going to the gym. Trust me, it happens better if its an appointment.

Sudha recommends the following next steps:

Establish a daily routine
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Maintain a calendar for your schedule
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Keep a To-do List
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Exercise - Cardio, Core and Strength
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Use devices/social media only during breaks
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Desiree’s Answer

Hi Tara,

If I could coach my younger self, I would make better use of calendars! It took me a long time to appreciate how deadlines pile up around midterm and finals. If I had reviewed and compared the syllabus (or schedule) for all of my classes and added important deadlines to a calendar, I would have had a better idea of the total time needed to meet these competing deadlines. It also helped create a visual representation of all my assignments.

I should mention we're all bad at estimating the time to complete a task. There's a term for this called the "planning fallacy". I manage software development schedules as part of my job, and I see the effects of this every day. This article provides a good overview with tips for combatting planning mistakes. If you're looking for a deeper dive into time management, I'd recommend Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. You should be able to find it at a public library. He gave a talk at Google about his book, which is available on YouTube.

I agree with other respondents about to-do lists. I still use them daily in my work.

Another recommendation for making the best use of the time you've set aside for school work is to discover the conditions where you're most productive. For me, I enjoyed studying at the library or other quiet places with few distractions. I struggled to concentrate at home because there were too many distractions between roommates, TV, and snacks. Experiment with listening to music, or background noise, like Coffitivity.

Desiree recommends the following next steps:

Buy a paper calendar or use Google Calendar to track the deadlines for all of your assignments
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Read an article on the planning fallacy and how to combat it - https://medium.com/the-mission/the-planning-fallacy-why-you-miss-your-deadlines-and-what-to-do-about-it-db5e162307b7
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Watch Daniel Kahneman's book talk on Thinking Fast and Slow - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjVQJdIrDJ0
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Sedanur’s Answer

If I could go back in time, I would organize everything. Creating to-do lists are really helpful to manage your time. Also, I would create a list about the things I am spending too much time, in other words, I would observe myself. Lastly, I think I would use Pomodoro technique which is quite useful for both managing the time and studying effectively.


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Liliane’s Answer

I would say to take all the opportunities as much as I could right after High School. It was the perfect timing to choose a career in my point of view.

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Waseem’s Answer

In addition to the other replies, what I have found to be extremely useful is to do a short course on a topic you really enjoy. It does not even have to relate to what you want to/ are currently studying. For example. I am studying Law and Commerce, but I am really interested in software programming, and so I completed an online introductory Python Course.

This is useful in many ways. Firstly you will have your time occupied in something you enjoy, and will therefore not need to find excuses to avoid it.
Secondly, you will also invest in yourself by learning new skills. Many employers look for individuals who are multi-faceted and well rounded. Short courses in other fields show that you are competent in more than one area. It also garners within you the desire and focus to achieve more, thereby motivating you to use your time effectively. In my experience, this is because the feeling of accomplishment when I finished my online course gave me the desire to achieve more.
I wish you the best of luck!

Waseem Moosa

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Nick’s Answer

I've seen a few answers address the initiative of recording, tracking, and evaluating your time. It may seem like overkill to plan things like free time, social time, and sleep, but as you gain more responsibility in college, this will become crucial in separating you from your peers and remaining emotionally healthy.

You don't have to go crazy planning every hour, second, and minute of your day at first (though growing to separate your days by the hour can become a great skill to increase your income and get the most of your social life). You can simply start by mapping out your goals for college. Ask yourself what is it that you want to get out of your time there. Don't stop with your academic goals, make social goals, skill goals, specific accomplishments, etc. Do some research and see how you can get involved in non-academic activities and clubs at your university. This is a great way to force yourself to learn time management and prioritize, while making connections, building leadership skills, and growing socially.

To sum up, I agree with the approach of closely logging and recording your time. But make sure you give yourself time to consider what is most important to you, and what you want to accomplish while in school.

I hope this helps and best of luck!

Good advice. Elizabeth Wassenaar

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Adam’s Answer

The best way for me to manage my time, especially when I feel overwhelmed by the work, is to break down what I need to do into lists. For me, crossing off lists has the added benefit of being therapeutic, and it with helps with my time management. I will also set timers, so I know that I am using my time wisely and if I can use a break and still make the times I need. I usually schedule in a time to watch an episode of the office, go on a walk, etc... I know that taking a break seems like a step in the wrong direction, but I feel that a break to clear my mind, actually makes my thoughts clearer. If im on a roll and my scheduled break comes, I usually continue my thoughts and then take a break.

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Joanne’s Answer

If I could do it again, I would pay more attention to what I was learning than to whether or not that was going to be on the test. Don't rush through school just to finish the semester. Enjoy the moment. Ask questions, take pictures, keep a journal. All these things will be a treasure trove of your journey through life. I would also use what I have learned, apply it whenever I can. Sometimes, we take a different path from the one we started upon and then lose contacts or skills. Try to keep up, even if it is just reading some articles on the same topic.
Time management is important. Set yearly, monthly, weekly goals. Time flies and you want to add to your accomplishments and feel good about them. Enjoy your friends, respect your elders. They do understand what it is to be young. Mostly their advice is based on something they've learned so don't throw that wisdom away. Make choices you will be proud of.

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Magali’s Answer

Setting a consistent schedule early on in college can be helpful. Plan out every hour in your week (we all have the same 168 hours in a week) and maintain some flexibility as you’re going through the week (bouncing back when your schedule doesn’t go your way is just as important as setting your schedule.) And remember that time management is always an ongoing compromise between what you want to do and what you have to do, setting your priorities will help you determine which one requires more time versus the other.

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G. Mark’s Answer

I would tell myself, "Most Important Now." It's a familiar refrain that I've heard many times, but I have always had a tough time following it. My own problem is that I get fanatical about solving some problems because I enjoy the work. I work very hard on things. But other things unfortunately fall by the wayside, often until the "last minute", as it were. I force myself to do some things and with limited time, I excuse myself for doing a less-than-stellar job. I believe I would have had many successes that have slipped through my fingers because I did what I really wanted to do. I can imagine that if I didn't have a lot of interests, I could have been rather lazy. But prioritization is a good train to foster.


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Kiran’s Answer

If I could go back I want organize more science outreach programs to students teach them why and how to study science and importance of education.


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Eliza’s Answer

I would reach out to my counseling services department and career counseling services department to steer me into what gives me life and passion. never doubt myself and abilities. learning outside of academia. and investing in a hobby not to make a profit later but to find solace in something other than productivity

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Winson’s Answer

Hi Tarah,
Thank you for asking this question so early in your life because that is something i wish i asked myself at your age. The #1 thing for me is definitely setting up a Google Calendar and listing out all my activities I need to get done throughout the day. That has definitely increased my efficiency so much. It's the same for work too where i use the calendar at work to track all of my meetings and tasks.

Good luck !

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Zachary’s Answer

In addition to keeping a to do list, I rank my to do list in order of importance and urgency. For example, my essay may be due tomorrow, and my final project is due next week. The final project ranks higher in terms of importance, however, the urgency of the essay places it at a higher priority.

Zachary recommends the following next steps:

Make your to do list
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On a 1 to 10 scale, give each item it’s own score based on importance.
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Do the same thing only this time for importance.
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This is up to you. Create your own method for determining priority based on importance and urgency.
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Based on your determination of priority, you can then choose which tasks to tackle first. A lot of times the priority of an item changes, at least for me, on a day today basis.
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Good advice. Elizabeth Wassenaar

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Karissa’s Answer

Definitely using an agenda/calendar and writing down what I want to get done in the next week and then important events, exams, assignments each week/month! Visually seeing what you need to do helps you plan ahead and know who much time you need/have for it! Even though it seems like extra work, you are actually saving yourself time in the future by not having to stress about what you need to do that day or "not being productive." Schedule in your school, work, family, tv, fun time! Schedules don't need to be boring! Find what style works for you! A physical calendar, mobile, to do list for the day/week! Try them all and see! Hope this helps!

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Cassandra’s Answer

Use some type of planner for weekly and monthly appointments etc.

On a daily basis write down everything you hope to accomplish then figure out top 3 you must get done and start on that list. If you get those done great you can tackle more of the list. If you only got to 3 things great, you got done everything you had to do for the day

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Fernando’s Answer

The first piece of advise I'd give would be to develop a schedule. Get into the habit of taking care of simple small task to develop a work mindset. If you have a personal hobby explore it in your free time, sometimes one's hobbies can potentially become a career path later on in life. If you ever feel overwhelmed don't be afraid to take a step back and breath. The worst thing you can do is force yourself to work while under high levels of stress.

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Diane’s Answer

The best way to manage time is to plan. The plan should include other obligations such as family, school, work, other activities and commitments. Some activities are flexible while others are not. Make a work plan every week including the day, and start and stop times. If a project or school work has a deadline, move flexible obligations to another time to focus on the critical activity. When working on the critical activity, find a quiet and undistracting environment in order to focus. Clear your mind and concentrate only on what needs to be done at that time.

Diane recommends the following next steps:

Record your successes and what worked well. Always focus on what went well.
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RUTIKA’s Answer

If you are in a school and find your self lost and don't know anything what your next step should be try to give your 100% in the thing you are currently doing slowly you will come to your next step. Don't waste your time thinking about it. Yeah i know its important to think about it but it should affect your present much.

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Isel’s Answer

Hi there, If I was able to give myself advice, I said "Spend at least an hour at the start of the week organizing your hourly calendar. Write down the task you need to complete for the week, and start checking them off. Make regular routines so you be more efficient and organized. What ever you cannot get done let if go, it can always can be done next day."

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Stephanie’s Answer

One of the problems I had was I would wait until the last minute to finish essays or projects. Make it easy on yourself and break up the essay and project and do a little bit each day. Keep a list of things you need to have completed by the end of the day, and give yourself little breaks in between each task.


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Elizabeth’s Answer

There are two important things to remember: say no to yourself and plan ahead.

We all have a tendency to be passive. That is why it is much easier to sit and watch films, sport events, play games, be on social media, etc. The problems with these activities are multifold: we spend much more time on these activities than what we had intended, we are actually bored and keep on searching for more stimulants, we train ourselves to only scan and browse rather than to mindfully engage with what we experience. In the meantime our brains are over-stimulated by the constanct assault of stimuli, truly making us tired. Since we do not get the dopamine from physical activity (which can also be found in studying actively), we develop a feeling of lethargy and fatigue - and it is very real! On top of that, we never have a sense of achievement, so we start to crave 'likes' and entertainment - but that can never suffice. We go to bed tired, depressed, but unable to sleep well and the next day the cycle repeats itself.

Asking friends, parents, councillors, etc. for help is great, but if you yourself do not break these habits, they will continue to control you. The few minutes that you had intended for such passive activities become hours, the hours become days, the days weeks, months and years, and eventually a lifetime. It is scary, but the absolute truth. It will take tremendous willpower, but you can do it. And it is not necessary to pity yourself (but I state this with the greatest empathy), since you are not making a sacrifice. You are taking back your life, you are taking ownership of a life that had been sacrificed to cater for these activities which bring you nowhere. You have to decide to stop that and start to be productive. You simply have to. Of course you will be tempted to fall back into the old habits of passivity, but where does that lead you to? More addiction, a body that will in time become ill, a sense of futility. Nobody else can make this decision on your behalf. Even if somebody else tries to keep you to your commitments, you will only get frustrated. That is another form of passivity, not to make the required decisions yourself and stick to it. But when you start to overcome these habits, you will find that you start to experience a sense of well-being, of achievement, of self-worth. These are strong driving and motivational factors. Once you start to complete worthwhile jobs, you will find that there is a reward in a job well done. When you start to achieve, the fulfillment will help you to start to achieve more. But the first step is to say no to yourself whenever you are tempted to waste time with senseless activities.

The seond step is planning. Write a list of all the essential things that need to be done. Yes, this is your first job, so just get started. Then number the things you have to do in the order of importance. You may find that there are quite a few things that are very urgent, but also be aware of other things that are not urgent now, but still need to be done.

Get yourself a diary. Write in what you intend to do every hour of the day. You will need time to eat, to care for yourself, time with your family, etc. Plan for those times - and do not use them for anything else. Then decide how much time you will spend on the tasks that you need to do according to your to do list. Be realistic. You cannot do everything in one day, but you need to set apart enough time to get your jobs done.

Remember that you need breaks. I suggest that you work for 50 minutes, eat/drink something (be careful though - you cannot snack all the time) or take a quick breather outside. Then punctually start on the hour again as planned.

I strongly suggest that you take up some physical activity that you will enjoy. Join a club or team for some sport, go to the gym, swim, start dance classes, whatever you may enjoy. I suggest that you do not try to do this on your own. Usually colleges offer various activities to students for free or at a minimal rate. Commit to your activity. You will enjoy being active and to engage with others in person, rather than only via media. This will greatly enhance your life and make you feel so good. There will be days when you do not feel like attending, but just keep your commitments - you will always feel good afterwards.

If you still can fit in a little more time, why do you not try to learn a hobby. Have you ever thought of learning to play a musical instrument (a lot of hard work is required here, but this will really develop your brain), hiking, birding, starwatching, art, chess, etc.? You do not neessarily have to do this daily, but you can plan for it - once weekly,monthly, etc. You will find that such activities also give you a sense of fulfillment that no Netflix or social media can match.

It may seem like an overload, but often people are fatigued due to boredom. If you plan carefully, you will find time for other activities apart from your studies, which will help to keep you motivated. Nobody can only sit and study all day, but do keep a healthy balance so that your studies remin your top priority.

You have one life. Time lost can never be regained. Ignore the feelings of laziness and lethargy and take control of your life. If you absolutely want to watch a movie, plan for it (maybe three hours on a Saturday evening?), but keep on considering the costs involved. Do you want to get a degree, a secure a good job, a steady income? How much will watching movies contribute towards that? Do you want to develop yourself, your character, have a full life? Which activities will help you to achieve that? Do you want to have purposeful relationships with real people? Try to switch off the screens, throw out a blanket on the grass and have a little picnic (which can even be a glass of water and a shared snack) outside with your family or people close to you. That is life. Live it.

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Cassandra’s Answer

It is great that you recognize that time management is imperative to be successful, that's the first step!

Cassandra recommends the following next steps:

One thing I try to do is make a list of "to-do's", putting tasks with the highest priorities first. Then, I try to schedule my obligations and my priorities accordingly.
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Schuyler’s Answer

I personally love check lists! Writing down each task I have to do, academic or not, so I know what my day will look like. Once each task is done, actually checking the box next to it is the best feeling because you know you accomplished something! It's also good to take breaks. You don't need to get everything done all at once, so writing a check list is also a good way to set up a reward system. For example if you finish your math homework, you can spend a few minutes listening to music before your next task. It gives you control and freedom at the same time.

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Chrè’s Answer

If I could go back, I would have sought out help through my university's counseling center much sooner. If you start feeling demotivated or apathetic about your college work, it could be a warning sign for depression, anxiety, or something similar. No shame in getting help and learning how to manage and overcome that, and the sooner the better. When we know and understand the root of these behaviors and feelings, better time management follows. 


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Allison’s Answer

That staying up late to do more work will only make you less efficient the following day. Better to get sleep!


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Randal’s Answer

My advice: Plan the work and work the plan. Do not be afraid to readjust the plan, given new details or information, but be purposeful about what you are going to do and when (and how) you are going to do it. Thus, for high school (and middle school), the subject you least like is the one you want to complete first, preferable in school when you might have easy access to the teacher or other students in your class who can help you. Save the course/subject you most like for last; you will be willing to spend a bit more time on it if you are tired. The last thing is to remember to create multiple study breaks. It is better to have four 30 minute sessions, with a five minute break between them and a longer intermission at the hour or 90-minute break, than it is to plow through a 2 hour study/homework session. Plan the break time, as well. Check email, post to Facebook, watch a favourite TV show, but stick to the plan!

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Amanda’s Answer

Hi Tarah,

Great question!

If I could go back and give myself tips:
1) Sunday night I would create a weekly plan of goals/tasks I want to complete throughout the week (Google Keep)
2) I would create a daily agenda breaking down what tasks I would like to complete each day and a specified time in the day to complete the task (Google Calendar)

Great tools I recommend are Google Calendar and Google Keep (To-Do list/Post-It Notes Digital Tracker).

The most important thing is recognizing your goals and creating a plan to achieve those goals.

Good luck!




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Nancy’s Answer

If I could go back in time to different points in my life where I was struggling with time management or doing a lot of procrastinating over being productive, I would tell myself to take some time and check in with how I’m feeling and to see what might be causing my poor time management. Is it that I don’t have a good routine for the things I need to do? Do I get distracted with activities going on around me, lose track of time, and end up arriving late to classes or work? I was usually fairly good about this type of time management and there are some great strategies out there to help with this. You can develop a weekly study routine; have a set time you go to sleep and wake up to keep yourself on a regular schedule. You can use a planner or smart phone to manage appointments, track assignment due dates, list chores or tasks that need to be finished, things like this.

I also know that my old self would have been stuck when the poor time management (aka procrastinating) was because of other reasons such as fear of failing, anxiety related to wanting to do something perfectly, or feeling overwhelmed because I wasn’t sure of what to do. These feelings are super uncomfortable for most and can negatively affect your mental health. I would tell my old self, new self and anyone now that if they feel this way and are struggling, to seek help and guidance. The other posters for this question are spot on with this advice too. No need to suffer when you have these feelings as there is help.

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Cassandra’s Answer

Use some type of planner for weekly and monthly appointments etc.

On a daily basis write down everything you hope to accomplish then figure out top 3 you must get done and start on that list. If you get those done great you can tackle more of the list. If you only got to 3 things great, you got done everything you had to do for the day

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Cindy’s Answer

If I could go back in time, I would have started college earlier. I waited I had kids. Take advantage of all of the opportunities such as work study, internships and study abroad.

Cindy recommends the following next steps:

Plan out your summer after high school.
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Study abroad-travel
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Look for internships.
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Karen’s Answer

Making yourself a schedule can help. I say this because you can set the schedule for when you want to work and when you want to build in time for Netflix, etc. Honestly, as both a teacher and student, I still sometimes struggle with time management. Sometimes it's uncertainty over what to do when. But when I take steps to set aside specific time to work on things I need to, but also set aside time to have a break and recharge, I do better. Once you get into a groove with a schedule you like, it can become more familiar, almost habit, and there's less time spent pondering "what to do". I hope that makes sense. I think it's really admirable that you are thinking of this ahead of college!

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Mary’s Answer

If you find that you have a hard time getting started with your "to-do" list because it's easier to watch TV, try telling yourself to just do whatever you need to do for just 10 minutes. What often happens is that after 10 minutes, you get involved in what you're doing and you don't remember to stop! And if not, at least you've gotten started and next time it will be easier to get back into the task.

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