Now that the sheen of the New Year has passed, it’s time to dust off those resolutions and shine up that new you, right? Yes, it is! According to researchers at Duke University, we develop habits automatically through the repetition of our daily behaviors. Keep reading for some tips on how to hone your day to become the successful student and – ultimately – professional, practicing graduate you can be.
1. Rise and shine
Research reported in Harvard Business Review suggests that morning people tend to get better grades in school, which leads to better job opportunities. This is largely correlated to morning people being proactive and their tendency to anticipate problems and the ways they can be minimized.
2. Eat breakfast
Start your day right with energy to last you the morning. Try a healthy carbohydrate (steel-cut oatmeal and rye toast, for example), a protein (a veggie omelet) or a green or fruit smoothie. Part and parcel to this, we should mention that healthy people always know to stay hydrated throughout the day. By hydrated, we mean hydrated with water and not caffeine!
3. Accomplish one task immediately
Look at your to-do list and mark something off first thing in the morning. It can be something very simple, such as “take the trash out” or “request official transcript for grad school application.” Whatever it is, if it’s on your list, marking something off fills you with a tiny sense of accomplishment of seeing something, anything, get done. Breaking down a lengthy list is something you do step-by-step, task-by-task.
Alternatively, some believe that if you do your hardest, most time-consuming (or dreaded) task first, everything else you have to do that day will seem easy by comparison. This is a valid thought, for sure, but sometimes doesn’t work in the life of a student where your daily schedule is sometimes not your own to decide. Regardless, it is a time management theory to consider, when it works.
4. Set goals
To manage your time wisely and make good progress toward your goals, try developing daily, weekly and monthly goals. Be careful not to cast your net too wide, or you’ll be overwhelmed. Review these goals at the beginning – and end – of each day, week and month (and certainly at midpoints in between), and be sure to continually ask yourself if you are focused and making progress toward your goals.
If not, you are being distracted by things that are not your priority, or you have prioritized your goals incorrectly – which can happen as the landscape of your life changes. No big deal. Retool, recast and re-energize! You’ll get there. Just keep your eye on the prize, and maintain focus. Goals are meant to be flexible and to serve you. Change them if they aren’t working. For help on setting goals, you can look here and here.
5. Move, exercise
Of course. We know this. Make time for some exercise, and your body and mind will reap the rewards. With the extra energy your exercise routine brings, you’ll be able to accomplish more, which feeds your positive outlook.
6. Meditate, relax, zone out, chill
Relaxing matters. Your brain and body need time to rejuvenate from the hectic pace of your day. Use some downtime to review your day and assess how well – or not well – things are going in your orbit. Celebrate your successes, and evaluate the misses. Breathe.