The brain science behind using a planner

Understanding the changes your brain is undergoing can be helpful to stave off stress as well. Did you know that your brain is undergoing massive changes during the teen years? (Of course you did if you’ve been reading the YSS books!) In regards to getting ready for school though, all you really need to know is that your prefrontal cortex, located behind your forehead, is the LAST part of your brain to develop.

Why does that matter to you now? Well, the prefrontal cortex is responsible for planning, decision-making, flexibility, reasoning, judgment and controlling your impulses. So, when it is time to focus on your homework, create strategies for doing it all, plan ahead and organize yourself, your STILL-DEVELOPING prefrontal cortex might be getting, well, how to say this nicely?  Overwhelmed, right? 

Sounds like it’s not working as effectively as an adult’s brain might be since, as you just said, it’s not fully formed yet. Is it like mush behind my forehead until it grows?

Taylor, don’t ask those questions in public; it’s so embarrassing.

 Hey look, all questions are welcome and, no, your brain is not mush. Your brain is making connections—synapses—all the time. But knowing that your brain is still developing can help you to make some strategic choices to help it out.  It’s sort of like when you know you’re still learning how to swim, you take precautions and wear floaties (Superman ones!).  Here we’ll be discussing some strategies that can help you out.

To do well in middle school and high school being organized is a great skill.  Yes, we said skill because being organized takes effort and for many, it takes a little practice to make it a habit.  Fortunately, for your generation many apps exist to help you in this area. Don’t be afraid to ask around (your teachers and friends) for the best ones. And if you’re not a techy yet, that’s fine! A good old-fashioned calendar from the dinosaur age (aka Paula and Chris’ time) can do the trick. Look for one where you can write in weekly assignments as well as pages that give you an overall view of what you need to get done each day, week, month and even semester. If you don’t have one, make one or buy one. That’s essential. 

Oh, and having one that is left home in the closet beneath the laundry won’t help. Use it!! Write in it, constantly update it and cross things off when you finish them. You’ll feel great when you do the crossing off. Nothing like the feeling of accomplishment to get you moving forward with more pep (did we just use the word “pep”?!!!). Hey, it’s a psychological fact that crossing items off on a list boosts your sense of accomplishment. Cross off each item as you complete it.

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How do you keep track of your schedule?

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