New year’s resolutions: student edition

With 2013 but a distant memory, it’s time to reflect on how we can improve. Everyone can make some adjustments and this is the perfect time of year to observe and adapt. University students can fall into routines pretty quickly and before long, it can be a task in itself to pull yourself out of a rut. Maybe you are looking for a full life overhaul or maybe you are just hoping to better yourself a little in 2014—either way, here’s my take on some classic student resolutions.

Save time, study efficiently

Everyone always says, “Work harder,” and “Try more at school,” but my advice is slightly different and very attainable. My advice on this one is don’t half-ass it. Instead of setting up camp for 12 hours in the BiblioCafé and meeting with some pals for a study session, lock yourself down in the silent area of the library and save yourself a bundle of time. Study hard, study efficiently and then call it a day (free of guilt) to catch a flick or get some grub. You’ll get the same amount of work done in less than half the time and you’ll feel so much better about your work. It may not be your mom’s advice but at least it’s realistic for a student life.

Save money, chart what you buy

Many people advocate for the monthly or yearly budget and, as much as I agree, it is difficult to stick to a budget. That being said, money matters, and how you manage it can make or break your undergrad. My tried and tested approach is simple but effective: chart what you buy. Instead of sitting down with a ruler and some pens in September, trying to pretend you know what will be what in March, simply keep your receipts and write down what you are spending your money on. If you keep track of everything and take a look back every month, it will be pretty clear what was necessary and what was a mistake. Limit your silly, impulsive and downright dumb purchases and you will be miles ahead by the next month.

Stay awake, chart your sleep

Here is another classic new year’s resolution for a struggling student. “I’m going to adjust my sleep habits next semester.” Before you know it, parties, papers, all-nighters and early morning practices are throwing your sleep schedule for a loop. How can busy students maintain their sleep schedule? Simple answer: they can’t. The student life is not conducive to an effective sleep schedule but here’s a quick tip to get you on the right path. Chart your Zs. As if we’re hitting the repeat button on the money resolution, simply write down how many hours (and don’t lie) you slept last night. At the end of the month, take a peek at the list. If you are anything like me, you’ll see a few 10s, some nines and then a pile of nights between five and eight. As you truck forward, try to get more nights with eight hours of sleep (or more!) than nights with seven or less hours. You’ll start to notice a difference in your attitude and performance throughout the day. No one says this is easy, no one says this is perfect, but it’s certainly easier than the lofty aspiration of sleeping from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. every night.

Pay attention to the real world

Here’s one all students can get behind. I check my social media just as much or more than the next person, but I also see the perks of not being tethered to electronic devices. Whether you are spending time with your pals or your significant other, or whether you’re in class or at the library, don’t obsess over what someone just tweeted at you. Believe me, it will still be there in an hour. Don’t waste valuable time splitting your attention between what’s happening in the real world and what’s vibrating in your pocket.

Have some fun

I know, this certainly isn’t what mom told you when you moved into residence, but seriously, have some fun. I’m not suggesting you neglect your studies in lieu of partying, but university doesn’t last forever, so enjoy yourself. Spend some time getting to know your peers and colleagues. Go out to the pub, go to the movies, skip out on a homework session to grab some lunch with a friend. Realistically, the university experience is infinitely more rewarding when you are going through it with people you care about. Treat yourself to a few fun evenings with friends (just remember to chart it in your money book). I can guarantee that all work and no play makes everyone sour. The trick is to have a nice balance between work and play. Easier written than done, I know.

I hope my version of some classic student resolutions will help you become the student you’ve always wanted to be.

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