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Looking for a dopamine rush? The KIT Club offers students a healthy dose.

It’s 3:30 on a Friday afternoon. Campus is quickly clearing out. It’s been an exhausting week—studies, tests, sports, theatre rehearsals. Yet a group of students are gathered in Hayden for one final meeting.
This hour-long investment will reap a satisfying payoff over the next 60 hours, students said, as they participated in their KIT Club meeting. KIT stands for “Keeping It Together” and what the girls wrote in their journals and shared on a spreadsheet is contributing to academic success, decreased stress and a dopamine rush that comes with achieving to-do list goals.

“For me, coming to the meeting actually prevents me from being more exhausted later,” said Melanie Ahn ’21. “This one hour will mean that I won’t be disorganized and spend more time that I need to on things.”

Under the guidance of Melissa Tighe, Math Department Chair and Director of Innovation, the KIT Club is designed to help students organize their weekends and week ahead, teaching time management tools to help them balance their busy lives and honestly assess how they are spending their valuable time.

We are fortunate at Mayfield that Melissa Tighe is to time management skills what Marie Kondo is to tidying up.

Look at each hour and each task, she counseled the girls. Is it urgent or not important? Prioritize to reach achievable goals.

Mrs. Tighe is a strong proponent of the “Pomodoro Technique” a time system for getting work done. Students set a timer and break their tasks into 25-minute chunks separated by five-minute breaks. The intervals are called pomodoros or “poms” and are cleverly named after the Italian word for tomato, which was the shape of the kitchen timer that the originator of the technique used.
 
The timer adds a sense of urgency to the pomodoro. Successfully completing the task and reaching the five-minute break signals a sense of success in the brain, releasing a refreshing dose of dopamine that can spur on another round of work. Saving a reward for after the work also creates a positive reinforcement loop that makes doing poms a positive experience.

During the club meeting Mrs. Tighe updates a spreadsheet with weekly goals set by each member:

“Hole punch chemistry notes and put in a binder.”
“Schedule two poms for essay.”
“Schedule one pom for researching new scholarships.”

When they complete a goal they enter “SUCCESS” on the grid and receive a round of applause at the next club meeting.

“Just being here really motivates me and gets me excited to do my homework,” said Agnese Sanavio ’20. “To be able to check off all those little things that I did and stay on task, it’s really helped.”

She also said she evaluated how much time she was spending on social media and made the dramatic decision to limit such screen time to 15 minutes a day.

“I realized I wasn't really finding any happiness or anything valuable out of it,” Agnese said. “Honestly it was such a waste of time. For me 15 minutes is just enough to see everything that all my friends have posted, but not enough time for me to fall into this rabbit hole and get lost. I feel so much better and more productive.”

To round off their hour-long meeting—because they do stay on schedule—the girls creatively colored and decorated their calendars and journals with pens and markers, artists of time management. Melanie says she loves for her notes to look good and the aesthetics of her bullet journal bring joy.

For others, the meeting is a relief valve that has erased the dread of Sunday night catch-up.

“I'm here because of Sunday nights. I would procrastinate on my homework because I didn't schedule it out and didn't prioritize what I needed to do earlier,” said Karissa Ho ’21. “To be able to take some time now and set goals for the weekend is really important to me…I feel if I try my best to stick to a schedule it will help me in the long run.”

 
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Established in 1931, Mayfield Senior School in Pasadena, CA is a Catholic, independent, college preparatory school for young women grades 9-12. Noted for its rigorous academic program, which includes 21 Advanced Placement and Honors courses, Mayfield’s curriculum is underscored by a philosophy of educating the “whole child,” which also encourages commitment to and excellence in the arts, athletics, community service and spiritual growth. The nurturing environment at Mayfield Senior School allows each student to flourish in an atmosphere of personal attention.