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About Maggie Wray, Ph.D.

Dr. Maggie Wray is an Atlanta-based academic coach who helps high school & college students achieve their academic potential by improving their organization, time management, study skills, and mindset about school. To set up a time to speak with Maggie about how to help YOUR teen develop the skills he or she needs to thrive academically, visit http://creatingpositivefutures.com/contact or email support@creatingpositivefutures.com

Why students procrastinate (Hint: it’s not what you think)

How does your teen respond to deadlines & due dates? Do they typically...a) Get started on their work as soon as it's assigned?  b) Wait until the due date approaches before they begin?c) Delay starting their work until (or past!) the last possible second? While many students argue that waiting to start their work is "no big deal", procrastinating can actually have some pretty serious costs. For some students, it means they don't have time to finish their work before the deadline...so they're getting low zeros on uncompleted assignments and low grades on tests for which they weren't prepared. Other kids manage to meet the deadlines by staying up late to complete their work...but end up feeling stressed out, exhausted, and coming down with frequent colds & illnesses.  And these are just the short-term costs. In the long term, high levels of procrastination are associated with lower salaries, shorter terms of employment, and a greater likelihood of being unemployed or under employed rather than working full‐time (Nguyen et al. 2013). WHY do students procrastinate? Given all the problems procrastination creates, why is this such a common and widespread problem? Why don't students learn to avoid it?  We used to think that procrastination was due to a character flaw, and that people who put things off until the last minute were simply lazy, or unmotivated. In

Tame scheduling chaos with a family Google Calendar

There’s so much going on during the school year,  it can sometimes be hard to keep track of what everyone is doing and when it all is happening! A great way to tame the scheduling chaos, and minimize back-to-school stress, is to create a SHARED Family Google Calendar.  … Read more

A Back-to-school Checklist for Proactive Students

Getting ready to go back to school can be a busy time. There’s a lot to do, and it can be hard to stay on top of everything, especially for parents who have multiple kids’ schedules and school supply lists to keep track of.  For parents, encouraging teens to take a more active role in their back-to-school preparation is a great opportunity to help them become more responsible and independent…and reduce everyone’s stress level in the process! To help with this process, I’ve created a back-to-school checklist (below), which which you can share with your teen, and use as a printable to-do list OR as a list of ideas to keep in mind as they create their own to-do list. Depending on your teen, their school, and your family, you will probably think of other ideas you want to include in this plan as well, but this can at least help you to get started.  Back-to-School To-Do List:   Write down your goals for this semester.  Writing down your goals dramatically increases the chances that you will reach them. Consider including goals for your grades, your study habits & organization,  extracurricular activities, friends and family relationships, and learning & personal growth.        Review +

Inbox Zero for Students: How to eliminate 14,625 Emails in 1 Hour

How many email messages do YOU have in your inbox?One student I met with recently had a total of 14,627 emails in his inbox, dating back to 2011.No wonder he feels so overwhelmed and frustrated by his email, and rarely uses it.And he's not alone.  Many students I've met with say they never check email anymore.  And those who do often look at it only every 2-3 days.Why managing email matters...While text messages and social media are great ways to stay in touch with friends, they can't substitute for email.College admissions offices, financial aid organizations, and potential employers for internships & summer jobs often use email as a primary means of communication.  So, kids who don’t look at or respond to their emails regularly risk missing course registration deadlines, financial aid cutoffs, and and even announcements from their professors about upcoming exams.Keeping up with email is an important life skill for students to develop...ideally, before they leave home for college.The good news is, it IS possible for students to get control of their email -- no matter how out-of-control it has become. [Click to Tweet]Getting to Inbox Zero...in 6 simple stepsThe most recent student who went through this process was able to clear 14,625 emails out of his inbox in a single coaching session, leaving him

By |July 17th, 2015|Categories: Organization|0 Comments

The Magic Art of Tidying Up…For Students

The following is my take on how students can use the valuable ideas from Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up, to keep their rooms neat and tidy.  If you’re interested in learning more about these ideas, I would highly recommend reading her original book.     Many students think that “organizing” means putting things away.  But often, the problem is actually that they have too many things, and nowhere to put them.  The more you have, the more difficult it is to keep it all organized.  Once you get rid of everything you don’t need, organizing what remains is infinitely easier!   In her book, Marie distinguishes between putting things back where they belong on a day-to-day basis, and the process she calls “Tidying” — which consists of sorting through all your belongings, letting go of everything you don’t need, and finding a home for everything that’s left.     “Tidying" needs to come first, because if you don’t have good organization systems in place, picking everything up on a daily basis is going to be infinitely more challenging.    Once you have your space in order, it’s also helpful to create habits & routines to help you

By |July 2nd, 2015|Categories: Organization|0 Comments

What are your Summer Goals? (Free Printable PDF)

Do you ever find yourself getting to the end of summer break, wondering how the time flew by so quickly? There is often so much going on in the summer, it’s easy to let the time drift by without noticing…until you suddenly realize it’s almost gone, and you haven’t done half of the things you were hoping to. … Read more

Do I jump in, or let them fail?

I spoke with a parent recently who was concerned about her son’s schoolwork, and trying to decide whether to let him fail and suffer the consequences OR step in and take responsibility for ensuring that nothing falls through the cracks.  There were problems with both of these options! So she was feeling stuck & unsure about what to do. I hear from a lot of parents who feel this same sense of conflict, because they can see their kids struggling at school, but aren’t sure how to help. They don’t want to jump in & rescue them, because then kids aren’t learning how to take responsibility and manage things on their own. But they also don’t want to see them fail, and mess things up…especially when those mistakes could easily have been avoided.  But are these really the only two choices? As an analogy, consider your manager at work… (or, if you’re the manager, think about how you would want to manage your employees...) Imagine that your manager had put you in charge of a new area of responsibility, and then later noticed that you weren’t handling it the way they had hoped. How would you want them to respond? Would you want them to ignore what was going on,

How well does your teen respond to feedback?

Learning how to accept constructive criticism gracefully, without getting angry or defensive, is a very valuable skill for students to develop. However, it’s also very challenging to master! For most students, getting negative feedback feels very upsetting.  In fact, if they suspect they might be doing badly at something, they’ll often do their best to avoid talking about it with parents and teachers who might criticize them.  This can quickly turn into a negative cycle: The more they put off the discussion, the scarier it gets to find out how they’re really doing. Meanwhile, if there is a problem, it's getting progressively worse…making it even more nerve-wracking to address.  The problem at the root of this cycle is the fear students feel about receiving feedback on their progress.  But what if we could take away this fear, and help them to see feedback as a valuable clue about how they can improve...rather than upsetting criticism about what they’re doing wrong? Here are a few ideas to consider trying out at home, to help shift your teen’s perspective on feedback, and make it easier for them to see it in a positive light:  Be proactive about seeking feedback from them. One way to do this would be to ask them for their

By |April 15th, 2015|Categories: Mindset, Motivation|0 Comments

Ability vs. Effort: The Power & Perils of Praise

Do you ever feel worried about your kids’ tendency to avoid challenge & difficulty, get upset about mistakes, and dislike asking for help…even when they need it? If so, you’re not alone! I’ve heard from so many parents who share the same concerns.   "I don't understand why they’re not putting in more effort!” they tell me... "I know they're smart enough to do the work."  And they're right! The problem is NOT students' lack of intelligence. It's their mindset. In fact, in many cases, being so smart is actually part of the problem. Highly intelligent kids often start off doing really well in school. Schoolwork comes easily to them. They do well on tests in class without ever needing to study.  Parents and teachers frequently praise them for how well they’re doing, and how smart they are.  Giving kids positive feedback about how talented they are seems like a wonderful idea — a great way to build self-esteem and encourage kids to feel good about themselves.  Indeed, when parents of young children were surveyed, 85% of them agreed with the statement that "it is necessary to praise children's ability when they perform well on a task to make them feel that they are smart."  But it turns out that praising kids

By |April 3rd, 2015|Categories: Mindset, Study skills|0 Comments