Let’s face it: New Year’s Resolutions are designed to be broken. People make unobtainable goals and quickly abandon them when they become too hard to achieve. And while we may not want to think about it right now, a new year also brings a new semester. We all say that we’re going to start fresh, and that this semester will be better than the last, but we often fall back into our old habits.
Here are a few tips on how to achieve the bare minimum goals you’ve set for yourself this semester.
I will finish my homework in a timely fashion.
Time management may be one of the hardest skills to master in college. Between classes, homework, clubs, work and other time-consuming commitments, having enough time to do it all seems impossible. Especially as the semester drags on, obligations seem to snowball out of control and leave you wondering how you could have avoided the overwhelming predicament you’ll ultimately find yourself in.
Stay organized! I would be absolutely useless if it weren’t for Google Calendar. I have every class, work shift and meeting marked in my calendar — I even include dates with my friends. Once you see how much time unavoidable events (like going to class or work) eat up, you can schedule blocks of time in the cracks to finish your homework.
If you have a large gap between classes, it would be the perfect time to get work done instead of napping or watching Netflix. Another “cheat” is telling yourself that school is like a job, and trying to squeeze in as much homework and study time between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
I also recommend keeping an agenda of due dates for all your assignments and projects. During syllabus week, I take the time to write out every assignment in a physical planner that I’ll keep in my backpack all semester. Doing this ensures that no assignments will catch you off guard.
Every Sunday night, I’ll look at the next week or two ahead and determine what assignments are are most important and schedule my upcoming days accordingly. Personally, I’ll have a sticky note for each day with a checklist that forces me to get my work done. You could also set reminders on your phone or keep your list in the Notes app of your phone. Whatever keeps your obligations at the front of your mind.
I will get a reasonable amount of sleep per day.
Many students may interpret this as “I will go to bed at a reasonable hour,” but I am opening this up to just getting enough sleep, period. Sometimes late nights happen, whether for cramming for tomorrow’s test or going out with your friends, and that’s fine as long as you eventually repay your sleep debt.
If you are able to successfully plan your days, getting enough sleep will be much easier because you won’t need to work late into the night. Set a time every night where you will stop working on your homework and give yourself time to unwind before bed. I try to wrap up working on things by 11 p.m., and I will give myself an hour to spend time with my roommates, watch some Netflix or read a book before I go to bed at midnight.
While napping sometimes seems crucial to getting through the day, it can actually be detrimental to your circadian rhythm. If you find yourself needing to repay your sleep debt, try going to bed earlier and waking up at your normal time rather than sleeping in. Hey, we can’t be party animals every night of the week.
However, I know that we’re young college students, so who am I to say how and when you get your sleep.
I will eat healthy.
First and foremost, remember to eat throughout the semester! Sometimes, it can be hard to force yourself to take a break from running around to do things for yourself, but you will have much more energy and probably be a happier person if you remember to give yourself time to eat everyday.
There are many resources online outlining how college students can successfully meal prep. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time per week to prep, nor does it need to be expensive. By having everything prepped ahead of time, you don’t have to scrounge the pantry looking for a pack of ramen or a bag of chips for dinner.
If you have a meal plan on campus, begin making changes in what you put on your plate. Try including a side salad with your lunch, or make an effort not to eat the greasiest food available. I try to have a variety of colors on my plate, so if I’m seeing a lot of brown and beige, I’ll make sure to include a vegetable as well.
Also, keep healthy snacks in your room. You can’t survive solely off of junk food if you don’t have them nearby. Buy a bag of apples or oranges and choose healthier granola bars over sugary ones.
I will keep track of my spending.
This one is rough; many college students don’t get a livable wage to keep them afloat through college, and it’s hard to budget if you don’t have a steady income.
Use a budgeting app like Mint. It combines all your accounts (even your student loans) into one area so you can see an overview on how you’re doing financially. Mint also tracks your spending and categorizes them, so you can see how much money you spend on gas and fast food.
Also, you can use an investment app such as Acorns that helps you build a savings account without even thinking about it. Acorns rounds up every purchase you make to the nearest dollar and automatically transfers money from your bank account to your Acorns account when the round-ups reach $5. When you’re strapped for cash, you’ll be able to withdraw money you forgot you even had!
Remember, no matter what, it takes baby steps to make a change. Don’t beat yourself up if you eat a bag of popcorn for dinner or end up pulling an all-nighter. Changes won’t happen overnight and it’s all really about making improvements each week. You got this!