Developing good habits in college is priceless. Good habits are fundamental to physical, psychological, and emotional wellness. They also allow you to live your best life long after you graduate.
Many college students struggle to develop good habits. Knowing how to develop good habits while in college will not only ensure your academic success but success in other aspects of your life including personal, financial, and career.
Creating a habit, good or bad, depends on two things, time and repetition. Commit daily to the habits below and you will be on your way to creating lifelong success.
1. Don’t Compare Yourself With Others
With social media at our fingertips, it’s easy to compare yourself with others. Though comparison can be beneficial for building motivation and inspiration it can also become addictive, scrolling for countless hours and seeing people and lives that appear perfect. No one has a perfect life. Always remember what you are seeing online are people’s highlights.
Not comparing yourself with others is an important habit to develop early on because if you don’t break the cycle it can snowball. Later in life, you will compare things like job title, income, car, house, and even spouse and children. Once you start comparing it becomes hard to stop.
When you compare you are not being fair to yourself. Comparisons are typically negative. It doesn’t take into consideration where you are and your circumstances and situation.
Focus on yourself, not others. Never try to keep up with someone else. It will cause stress and create unrealistic expectations that you can’t live up to. No one needs that kind of pressure. Compare only with yourself. That way you work to be the best possible version of yourself, not some else.
If you are looking for some practical tips, How Students Can Create The Motivation For Success, is a great place to start. The tips teach you to focus on yourself.
2. Good Time Management
One of the best habits you can create is good time management. Think of time management as a tool that will help you reach your academic and life goals. Managing your time well will maximize your productivity and help you stay focused. It will also reduce stress.
In college, you must manage your time well so you can fit everything in, classes, tests, projects, reports, and assignments. Time management skills will be different for everyone as no student’s life is the same. Finding what works for you and your schedule is key.
Here are two simple time management tips to create a good routine:
- Create A Schedule: Make a list of what you need to schedule. Classes, assignments, work, family, sports, and other activities. Prioritize what you need to complete first, and which tasks can wait. Schedule a time when you will do everything on your list. Try and stick to your schedule and adapt it if necessary. Not everything can be set in stone, life does happen.
- Get Organized: Create a calendar. It can be a physical or a digital calendar like Google, iPhone, or Microsoft Outlook. Once you’ve chosen your calendar start filling it in. Note when you have classes, and when assignments, projects, and tests are due. Include midterms, finals, holidays, and breaks. Add other scheduled commitments like work, internships, meetings, and other extra-curricular activities. Be sure to look at your calendar daily, it’s what will keep you on track.
3. Develop A Sleep Routine
Studies have shown that a good night’s sleep can boost academic performance. Creating a bedtime routine is important and consistency is key. You can set an alarm or notification on your phone to remind you. The goal is to train your body to sleep at a specific time.
Every night, take a little time to wind down and relax. You can do this by, creating a bedtime playlist, reading a book, taking a warm shower or bath, having a cup of tea, or even doing a little stretching or yoga. Meditation, guided imagery, and breathing exercises are also good ways to ease into sleep. Two great apps for this are Insight Timer (I personally use it) or Calm. Their free versions are more than adequate.
Be sure to turn off all electronics, the light from these devices makes it difficult to fall asleep. Avoid caffeine and alcohol several hours before bed. Keep a regular sleep-wake schedule to avoid disturbing the circadian rhythm that regulates wakefulness.
4. Exercise Regularly
Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health. Making it a habit will be key to sticking with it. Scheduling a workout, even if it’s quick, is important to your health, physically and mentally. Not only will exercise boost your energy level, but research also shows that exercise is a great stress reliever. Additionally, exercise is a natural treatment to help fight depression and anxiety. Boost your mood and get in shape at the same time.
5. Eat A Balanced Diet
Eating a balanced and healthful diet helps your body manage stress. It increases energy, helps with focus and concentration, and increases your immune system. Stay away from excessive caffeine, alcohol, and drugs.
College students should keep healthy snacks in their backpacks. Nuts, seeds, trail mix, granola bars, and some energy bars contain good nutrition. Toss in some fresh fruit and veggies that travel well, like apples, bananas, oranges, mandarins, baby carrots, celery sticks, and cherry tomatoes. Always have water handy, staying hydrated is vital.
6. Create A Budget
It’s important when building a budget to keep track of where your money goes. This will help you get a sense of what you are spending your money on and how much you are spending. Knowing what you are spending is the key to adjusting your budget. Keeping track of your spending is also how you save money because you know where every dollar is going.
Start by making a list of all your monthly expenses. Break your expenses down by fixed and variable. Fixed expenses are those that come monthly and cost about the same amount each month. Such as a car payment, rent, mortgage, utility bills, memberships, and insurance. These are easily budgeted as you know what they will be.
Variable expenses are expenses that change depending on your habits. Examples of variable expenses include getting a coffee, going to dinner, buying clothes, watching a movie, or taking a vacation. These expenses fluctuate therefore, you can make the most adjustments in your budget with these.
When creating a budget, I like the app Mint (I’m not affiliated with Mint). Not only is it free, but it also brings together everything from spending, balances, and budgets to your credit score and more. Easily create your budget in Mint. You can also connect all your accounts. From cash and credit to loans and investments, you can see your complete financial picture in Mint. It helps you stay on top of your accounts, bills, and subscriptions. Get notified when your subscription costs increase and when bills are due. Mint will automatically categorize your transactions, so you don’t have to.
Take advantage of the digital tools available to make tracking your finances easy. Your bank or credit card likely has an app with a budget feature. Alternatively, you can use an app like Mint, which integrates all your accounts to help you track your spending and create a budget.
If you’re a high school senior, you should also read the 6 High School Habits To Drop Before College. Once you drop these habits it will be easier to create new ones.