How to Form Habits as a Busy Student
Learn how to save time in your busy schedule by forming habits.
This article was written by Priya Gupta, a Ryerson University student.
Forming habits and staying consistent with them is not always easy. However, once you’re habituated to do something, it becomes a part of your daily routine. As a student, you must make numerous decisions every day — what time to set your alarm, should you snooze your first alarm or wake up, what to eat for breakfast, etc. Sometimes, it can be mentally draining to think about so many things.
Converting the daily decisions you make into habits can reduce the burden of deciding if you should perform that specific task or not. Sounds confusing? Bear with me, I’ll explain! Whether you’re enrolled in online classes or are transitioning to in-person learning, it’s essential to have a daily routine that sets you up for success. I initially struggled with procrastination and having to wake up each day and decide what to eat, what to study, and when to workout — it was tiring. Eventually, I realized that my lifestyle was not benefitting me and was instead making me feel exhausted.
To adopt a more fulfilling, less stressful lifestyle, I decided to create a routine, and the three main steps that I took to get habituated to my tasks are as follows:
1. Begin by setting small goals and expectations
I started off by incorporating a 10-minute workout in my daily routine in between some online classes. I do not enjoy working out for longer periods of time. However, I still wanted to have some physical activity in my day. This allowed me to stir things up and look forward to a new activity each day.
I also acknowledged that forming habits is not an instant process and that I need to stay consistent to benefit from it. However, I still took days off and did not let the feeling of guilt or regret take over for not working out on certain days.
2. Build one habit based on another
This is something that I practiced because I found it difficult to start building new habits. I love binge-watching shows on Netflix on weekends, which takes over a good chunk of my time. I was adamant about changing this habit. To do so, I decided to start preparing my meals for the week during the weekend. While watching my shows, I would simultaneously chop my veggies, fruits, etc. This allowed me to start using my time constructively and feel rewarded and less guilty on days where I still watched Netflix without meal prepping.
3. Setting reminders
It’s easy to forget a particular task or activity while trying to form habits. The activity could be as basic as remembering to drink water in a timely manner. Setting reminders to complete these tasks helps keep you motivated. I prefer setting reminders on my phone because that’s a device that is constantly with me. Best of all: at the end of the day, checking off my reminders gives me a sense of accomplishment! While phone reminders are helpful for me personally, there are other ways to remind yourself as well, such as placing sticky notes on your laptop or on the bathroom mirror for you to see as soon as you wake up.
With the help of these three strategies, I was able to form habits and stay consistent with them. These tips may not work for everyone, so I suggest you try multiple techniques to find out what works for you. To remain consistent with your habits, take advantage of your personal strengths and leverage them to gain positive outcomes. At the same time, being kind to yourself and giving yourself a break on some days is essential as well.
Once you’ve achieved your daily goals (no matter how small), remember to reward yourself to keep the momentum going!
Learn more about Ryerson University