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What have we been up to?

As crazy and almost obvious as it seems, our mindset and attitude towards life is heavily influenced by our environment and how we are able to organise ourselves. The irony in this is that it is the total opposite of our instincts, we are told our whole lives to make sure we make our bed, clean our room, tidy up after ourselves and we often think this is just something superficial that parents want to nag us about, well, reality is, it has a much bigger impact on us.

Picture it this way, close your eyes and tell me where in your room your left school shoe is, what about your jumper you wore three weeks ago? Where are your towels you shower with? If you have trouble locating a usual spot for these items because they are buried underneath a complete mountain of dirty clothes and food wrappers then guess what, I can already visualise how your notes and schoolbooks look too. It seems a bit surface level, but the same idea translates through to your notes and schoolbooks. If I asked to see your biology notes from Monday Week 3 Term One, where would they be? How would you locate them for a test? Are you starting to see a pattern here?

The way that we start to make these changes is through habits. This doesn’t mean waking up one day and turning into a cleaning robot, but start fresh on a Monday, make areas designated for certain things, start to take pride and organisation in your area and watch it translate in your work. Start by sorting out your dirty from clean clothes, then your shirts from pants, then your shoes in their cupboard. Try it for a week and watch your physical cleaning start to influence your mental cleaning. There is no set right or wrong way to organise yourself, but the team at We, Future Leaders have come up with two top tips that you can start doing RIGHT NOW to find clarity and organisation in your mind, personal space and studies.

Declutter your wardrobe

It may seem trivial, but the experts at The Style Minimalist prove how clutter in one area of your life has profound effects on every other area of your life. Kitty (the primary professional organiser at The Style Minimalist), breaks down the advantages of doing so:

We all relate to having too many clothes in your wardrobe and not having enough space / hangers / care to put your washing away. You try on clothes on the weekend or after school, and they end up on the floor because it’s too much of an effort to put them back on the hanger. You wear a jacket that isn’t even dirty but put it in the overflowing washing basket just to avoid putting it away. How could you possibly take PRIDE in a wardrobe that is a chore to manage?

When you cut down on the clothes that you don’t wear, suddenly there is more space, and you notice that the clothes that you wear often have a particular style that you didn’t realise that you had. Everyone has a personal style. When your wardrobe matches this style, suddenly you feel a connection to the space as it looks so aesthetic when it’s organised that you couldn’t bear to make it messy. It’s a simple formula:

Less cramming + aesthetic appearance + ease of access = desire to use it and keep it that way.

Apply this to your school notes:

Well organised notes + neat and tidy appearance = desire to refer to make notes and use notes for study.

It’s a no brainer!

If you’re feeling overwhelmed about your notes being all over the place and you’re not sure where to start, start with your wardrobe 😉

2. Declutter your mind!

You’re probably thinking, ‘yeah right! I have too much to think about!’ and it’s making you feel more overwhelmed that you need to be feeling. Your brain can only concentrate on THREE problems at a time. If you have more than that, you will feel overwhelmed because your brain will keep swapping and changing between the three that are the highest priority and bringing those to your attention. Simplify the process for yourself and start closing those tabs in your mind by getting it out onto paper. The biggest excuse I hear for this one is ‘it’s easier if I remember everything in my head’. That is a horrendous habit to have and you should 100% break that habit!

Start by grabbing a notebook and pen and writing a list of literally every little thing you can think of that you have to do, no matter how small. For example, ‘put assignment due dates in diary’. It might seem ridiculous, but when it’s out of your mind and onto paper, it’s one less thing for your mind to remember. Take it a step further and put tick boxes next to every point that you’ve listed. There is no denying the satisfaction of ticking of everything on a to-do list!

After practising this habit for a little while, you should start feeling a bit of relief and clarity in your mind. When you have some time to complete a task, there is no more scrambling to think of what you need to do. There is no more randomly remembering something and freaking out that you must do it right then and there! You just check out your list and start ticking off whatever you feel is most needed. When you remember something, just add it to the list to do later.

To take it up a notch, begin your list with three categories:

  • Approx. 5 Minutes

  • Approx. 20 – 30 Minutes

  • Approx. Hour or longer.

When writing out your list, it doesn’t matter what order you remember your tasks as you can easily assign them to a category for you to prioritise later. Once it’s all out of your head, you have a much clearer understanding of what needs most attention. The general rule of thumb is:

  • If it takes about 5 minutes, get it out of the way and do it now.

  • If it takes about 20 – 30 minutes, do it after your current task.

  • If it takes about an hour or longer, schedule it in your diary (such as google calendar). Any due dates for assessments, homework or exams should go there as well, along with any friend’s birthdays etc.

The more mental clarity that you have, the less stressed you’ll become and the easier it’ll be to get your head around difficult concepts in the classroom. It’s a no brainer!

Want to hear more? Subscribe to our email list to hear from us (semi-regularly, not ‘in your face’ regularly) and we’ll give you all the inside tips to making the most out of your schooling years in every aspect (not just academically).

If you liked this read, share it with some friends who will benefit from a general life declutter 😊

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Updated: Jun 17, 2021

Christmas is a bittersweet time of year. People long to spend time with loved ones, eat lots of food and even give and receive gifts! While many people do get to experience these joys of Christmas, there are many people who do not.

For as long as I can remember, until I was around 20 years of age, every single Christmas was a disaster. From drunken family arguments and tears to domestic violence and visits from the police, there was never a 'dull' year, just a disappointing one. I received a purple toothbrush for Christmas when I was 9 years old, while friends were receiving toys, games and cool clothing. I didn't even long to receive these things, what I longed for was a connected family who could spend a 'normal' Christmas together.

Now as a young 22 year old woman and over the past few years of the beginning of my adulthood, I have been doing what I can to help my community. I had been tutoring for about 6-7 years now and I had around 30 students for the year of 2019. What started with an idea for my own students, blossomed into a beautiful gesture that was appreciated by those who really needed it.

To celebrate all of my students hard work over 2019, I wanted to host a picnic for them and their families. I had tried to organise it for a few months and I had very little luck due to the hectic time of year that it was. I decided that even though only two students were able to come, that I still wanted to run this picnic. So, I made it public.

I made a post on Everything Sutherland Shire to advertise that I was having a community picnic and that anyone was welcome to attend as I wanted to bring my community together for Christmas time. I decided to take it a step further:

"I'm currently a tutor in the Shire, and in addition to my standard students, I work with lots of vulnerable kids or kids doing it tough. I grew up in foster care, moving from home to home and understand what it is like to have nothing at Christmas time. As a young child, I remember only receiving a purple toothbrush for Christmas, and even as a seventeen year old only receiving the *free* plastic P plates that you get from RMS. Long story short, I really want to help! I can't do a great deal, but I have been making lots of Christmas packs (not super exciting, but just an extra couple of little goodies that might make a difference this Christmas.) I have a couple of notes:

- if you know of a young person who might be in a struggling family this Christmas, and you'd like to nominate them for a gift, send me a message. Obviously I can only do what I can, so no guarantees.

- on Monday 23rd of December, at 3:30pm, come down to South Village park (the huge oval at South Village Kirrawee) for a picnic. Bring your picnic blankets, cushions etc, some snacks etc and let's all spend time together as a community. IF you are in a position to, bring a gift for a young person (just something simple), wrap it and write on the tag the age group and gender that it's most suitable for (I.e. girl, aged 5-7 etc)! Alternatively, leave them unwrapped. I will distribute to nominated kids and any left over will be donated to kids in hospital or any organisations that can pass them on.

If you'd like to support my facebook page, feel free to give it a follow, I plan to regularly organise things for my students and the public in 2020. Future Leaders Let's make sure no one in our community goes without this Christmas"

I was quickly inundated with messages of support offering donations of food, clothing, toys, games. books, school supplies, water and food for the picnic, live music for the picnic, monetary donations and so much more. I was also flooded with recommendations of families that could do with an extra hand. My post above received over 250 likes and 45 comments.

Thanks to the support of the community, I was able to make a gift PACK for boys and girls aged 0-18. Watch the video below for perspective!

We delivered to multiple families around the Sutherland Shire and their appreciation was endless. We had families who would have otherwise had nothing, be absolutely spoiled with gifts. One mother told me that she was unable to buy her kids gifts this Christmas as they were overwhelmed with court fees while trying to fight for full custody after years of abuse and violence. Their smiles were priceless.

We had quite a few left over packs. It was now Christmas Eve, and I wasn't sure where they were going to go. I called up Police Stations, Foster care agencies and Fire Brigades (this was during the middle of the bushfire season) and there were all already flooded with donations and were unable to accept any more. It was one Women's Shelter in Sydney's Inner West that needed it most. They had multiple women with children, and weren't able to provide them with much extra for Christmas.

My housemate Taylah and my partner James and I spent lots of Christmas Eve wrapping and labelling the gifts. James and I drove out there on Christmas morning to drop them all off. We were greeted with a wave of grateful tears from the volunteers who run the shelter. 'You have no idea the impact you have just made'.

James and I drove away with a feeling that I honestly can't describe. 'Can we please do this again next year?'

We had not just delivered some presents. What we had done was indirectly told these families and children that they were loved and cared about, and deserving of something at Christmas. THAT is a gift that will keep on giving, and the real 'gift' behind a gift.

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