Is it just me, or does anyone else feel like the last day of school was about a week ago? I’m not quite sure how the summer flew by so fast, but flew by it did. August is the perfect time to focus on creating habits that will set you up for success. Many times, we start the year with lofty goals: I’ll study for three hours every night, stay up to date on all my reading (and maybe even get ahead!), and finish the semester with a 4.0. And hey, those goals are great… but sometimes it’s better to create smaller, more manageable habits that you think you can actually sustain.
The following five habits aren’t hard to stick to, and they can have serious positive effects on your academics. Start incorporating them into your life from day one, and you’ll reap the benefits.
Create enjoyable night AND morning routines.
We all know how much better life is when you’re well rested and well fed. That’s not rocket science. The key to consistently being both is to create routines that you legitimately enjoy. Act like you’re five-years-old again and set a bedtime. Then, create a routine around that set time that helps you get into sleep mode. For me, that’s putting away any work at least an hour before bedtime, taking a hot shower, and having (uncaffeinated!) tea. For you, it might be watching a show or reading. When life gets insanely busy it can be hard to carve away 15-30 minutes every evening for your evening “me time,” but it can make a massive difference in the amount and quality of sleep you get – and sleep makes all the difference.
The same thing is important for your mornings. Create a happy, nourishing routine that will start your day on the right foot – whether that’s a shower, a quick workout, or whatever else gets you energized. Pick a time to wake up every single day (resist the urge to hit snooze!) and give yourself time to eat a real breakfast. Getting to school truly awake and with a full stomach is light years better than rolling in groggy and hungry.
Get seriously organized.
Schoolwork is hard enough without spending half of your allotted study time trying to find missing notes and track down handouts. Invest in a few key supplies that will keep you organized all semester long. A “master” binder with separate tabs for each course is great for keeping all homework assignments and handouts in one place. Notebooks labeled for each class will ensure all of your notes for each subject area are in one place. Every day, clear out any junk from your binder and backpack that you don’t need anymore.
I’m a firm believer that clutter creates chaos, and the neater you can be, the easier your life will be. Even if organization isn’t one of your strong suits, anyone can file away papers in properly labeled folders, or jot down notes in clearly labeled notebooks. Spend a few hours before school even starts setting up an easy organizational system that works for you, and you’ll be thanking yourself later.
Use your planner. For real.
I will never stop proclaiming the importance of planners. I will shout it from the rooftops. Planners are lifesavers! The human brain is fallible, and you will 100% forget things if they aren’t written down! Get in the habit of writing down everything you have each and every day, from homework to extracurriculars to social events to work obligations.
By doing this, you can see, in writing, every single thing you have coming up the following day and week. Not sure if you have time to take that babysitting gig? Wondering how busy your weekend will be? Experiencing a nagging feeling like you’re forgetting something? Your planner has all the answers!
Take time each Sunday to plan for the week ahead, and each evening to plan for the day ahead.
“Fail to plan, plan to fail.” It’s true! Before each school week starts, take a moment to look over everything you have coming up. Big test Thursday, but you’re playing in a football game Wednesday? Make a note that you’ll need to study on Tuesday! Two papers due on Friday? Better get a head start on those. Take five or ten minutes each evening to do the same thing for the following day. Lay out your clothes, pack your backpack, and figure out what’s on your to-do list. The more prepared you are, the better you’ll do.
Always have a light at the end of the tunnel.
There is something so motivating about working hard on something, knowing there is a little reward waiting for you. I think it’s important to give yourself a little TLC after a particularly hard day or week, and it can help you stay focused and give 100%. For example, make plans to go see a new movie or try a new restaurant after a big test. If you’ve got a long evening of studying, end your night with a bubble bath or a bowl of ice cream. I would always give myself something to look forward to, and then remind myself, “The harder I work now, the more satisfying that [treat/outing/nap] is going to be.” Hey, whatever it takes to get motivated!