49 Daily Habits You Need To Embrace In The Spring Semester
Daily habits are important for instilling the structure and productivity that you will need to thrive throughout school and life.
Of course, it is up to you which types of daily habits that you embrace. For every 49 good ones — as seen below — there are 49 more that can screw you up for years to come. But this being a new year, we’re going to focus on the positives. Let’s get started.
Best Daily Habits, No. 1: Wake up early.
Oh sure, most of you do not have the option. You have to be at school by a certain time each day, or perhaps your parents force you to get up even earlier due to work schedules.
While it may seem like a drag to have to get up while it is still dark outside, you can make it work to your advantage by tackling some things that are really important to you first and foremost. You should also make a beeline for the kitchen or nearest food depository in your home.
No. 2: Eat a healthy breakfast.
A healthy breakfast does not necessarily mean a hearty breakfast. In fact, in my experience, I do not need much in the morning to get going. Just a few hundred calories to prime the pump and get the energy I need for those early tasks of planning my day and reviewing what I’ve already done the day before.
Stay away from sugars and fattening foods during this portion of the day and go for straight protein and fiber through healthy sources like nuts, oatmeal, fruit, and cereal. Do try to put away about 30 grams of protein though. Your muscles will thank you for it.
No. 3: Exercise, any time.
Make 10,000 steps per day your baseline, but don’t stop there. Exercise often gets back-burnered to death. We think there has to be 30 minutes of sustained exercise to “count,” and that can be rather hard to come by when you get into the main thrust of your day.
Start reshaping the way that you think about it, and you will do much better. Find 10 minutes here and 10 minutes there. Before long, you will be at 30 minutes without realizing it, and those brief chunks of time add up.
Ten-minute increments are plenty long enough to fit in a few sets of pushups or setups or a nice mile-long run. And once you make exercise a priority — even in smaller chunks — you will find that more time opens up to it throughout the day. It also enables you to eat more, which is awesome.
No. 4: Embrace time management.
Time management will be one of the most important life skills that you learn. The older you get, the more people dump on you. To be fair, that’s because you are capable of handling more, but only because you don’t waste time and you learn how to set priorities and get things done.
There are a lot of different ways that you can embrace time management, and those will be discussed in greater detail a little further down the list.
No. 5: Set daily goals.
Setting daily goals is one of the most important ways to maximize time management because it helps you accomplish the things that need to be accomplished when they need to be accomplished.
The breathing room and freedom this creates allow you to move through the rest of your tasks with speed and confidence.
When setting daily goals becomes one of your daily habits, you will learn that you don’t need more hours in a day because some things do not necessarily need to be done right away (or at all).
No. 6: Learn one new thing about each subject.
But again, don’t stop there.
One is just a good number to focus your efforts and form the habit.
Make a list of the classes you are taking in the spring semester. If they are the same as the fall semester, review what you did not understand about things in the previous 18 weeks, and make it a priority to carve up those difficult concepts into smaller action steps that you can take with each new day.
When you learn one thing, it becomes easier to learn two and three and four, etc. Before long, you will see the relationships that exist between the information you are learning, and your understanding will increase exponentially.
No. 7: Get and/or stay organized.
If you are a poorly organized person, then you won’t do as well in school, and you will miss a lot of opportunities in life. That said, what it means to be organized can change from one person to the next.
If you walked into my office, you would likely find it hard to decipher what is going on with my desk. But in my head, things are organized perfectly, and I can find whatever I’m looking for in a moment’s notice.
Some people work well when things are neat. Others need a little chaos. The important thing is that you are honest about your style and you play to it when getting and staying organized.
No. 8: Network (for real).
Social media tools have made it easier to network, but there is still something to be said for getting out there and pressing the flesh. When you create relationships with people, they genuinely want to work with you, and they will find ways to make it happen or to incorporate your talents into what they are doing.
Now, why is that important for you in the spring semester?
Well, it has to come naturally, and that means getting plenty of practice. Besides, if people know and respect you now, just think about what that will mean when the remainder of the details start falling into place as you get out of school and expand into a profession.
Also, it is perfectly fine to use Internet-based networking tools, but you should not let them completely supplant the meet-and-greets and coffee shop chats.
No. 9: Act.
Ideas are great. Plans are great. Being able to set priorities — great. But none of that will ever amount to anything if you don’t do the work.
By “do the work,” it should be noted that there are different types of work you have to do. For lower priority items, you might be able to knock them out with one or two action steps.
For high priority items, it may take several weeks of accomplishing one goal per day.
Regardless, you should resolve to take at least one action step per day toward completing a goal. If you are having trouble distinguishing between goals and actions, do the $1 million test.
Example: I want to make $1 million this year, is a goal. The specific things you do to get to $1 million, are actions. In this case, $1 million in a year, means making $2739 a day. Now, what can you DO to earn that much money?
Think of ways that you can maximize earnings while minimizing time, then take specific steps (actions) each day.
You may never reach specific goals that you set for yourself, but by making action a daily thing, you will get further in life than if you never translated those goals to actions.
No. 10: Establish plans and follow them.
As you unpack goals and realize all the actions that come with them, it will become easier to develop specific plans for accomplishing what you set out to accomplish.
Make planning a regular part of your day. Sit down with a pen and paper in hand and lay out all the things that you need to get done in the short term, whether they are easily accomplishable goals or parts of a greater ongoing whole.
Once the plan is established, it becomes much easier to act on it, tweak it, and follow it through to eventual completion.
No. 11: Become a positive thinker.
Being positive will cause you to be a better-equipped person for dealing with challenges, and it also will make you more fun to be around.
While that may not seem like such a big deal now, realize that relationships are often great determiners of how successful we are in life.
Creating great relationships will set you up for permanent success.
No. 12: Schedule some ‘Me Time.’
If you are not sure how “Me Time” is supposed to look, think about a well-loved hobby. Now spend 30 minutes per day making sure that you get some uninterrupted time to actually indulge in it.
This could mean riffing on a guitar, writing a novel, drawing a comic, or researching collectibles. Bottom line: if you like to do it, then do it. Every day. No exceptions. Most people can spare 30 minutes. If you can’t, make it 20 or 15 or 10. Just make sure that it gets done.
No. 13: Read.
Reading opens portals of information that lead to an understanding you can call your own. The only way that you truly learn anything is to connect it to what you already know and then build upon it.
This makes reading skills an absolute requirement.
Try to read every day, whether it is a book or screenplay or how-to instruction manual for something you wish to learn about.
By consuming others’ ideas and making those important textual connections, you will have an easier time forming productive daily habits and deeper understandings of the information you want and/or are required to learn.
No. 14: Journal.
The act of writing your thoughts on paper gives you the opportunity to self-reflect, strengthening what you do know while turning you on to questions that you should be asking but probably aren’t.
While some people swear by electronic journals and apps, there is nothing quite like the relationship between pen, hand, and paper. Try it out for a week, and see if it doesn’t yield better results.
No. 15: Get enough sleep.
And no, that doesn’t necessarily mean get more sleep. Sleeping too long can lead to depression and a drop in productivity. If you must nap, schedule one for later in the day after you have already accomplished something meaningful.
No. 16: Meditate.
Meditation is another form of self-reflection and relaxation that can open up your productivity and put you in the proper mental space for tackling the challenges of the new semester.
The difficult thing for many when incorporating this item into their daily habits is that they want to make meditation rigid and exacting, when it can actually be many things to many people.
While you may embrace some of the Buddhist meditative philosophies, others may prefer to spend that time in silent prayer. All of these forms of meditation are beneficial provided they connect with who you are as a person and make you feel comfortable.
No. 17: Shorten your commutes.
This could be more relevant for those of you in college, but it’s worth mentioning for everyone.
By taking the travel time — on foot or car — out of your day, you can spend more time preparing for classes, exams, or crossing off homework before you go home at the end of each day.
When I was in college, I had a long walk to one particular class and an hour in between it and the next class in the same building.
Rather than getting to the first class in the nick of time and leaving for a break, I would usually prepare by bringing with me everything that I needed to study for whatever was on my plate. I’d get there about 15 minutes early, go to class number one, get out, go back to a study area in the building, and spend the next hour taking care of business.
Shortening the commute time was essential to maximizing the productivity of my day. Hopefully this can work for you as well.
No. 18: Learn to love the short break.
Short breaks are essential to quality study time, and as you progress in your educational journey, you will need to learn to love them by making the most of each precious second.
How do you make the short break more appealing and replicable?
Simple. Schedule something that you can do that is enjoyable but that won’t take up too much time. After all, you want to spend most of your workday/school day actually working/learning.
For me, Crossy Road is a fantastic way to spend my short break. I can play it standing up to give my legs a stretch. It’s fun and addictive. And each game is usually pretty short in the grand scheme of things. Even when I get on a tear where I rack up over 500 steps in one game before getting flattened by a delivery truck, it only takes me about 10 minutes.
No. 19: Get to the point.
We waste way too much time beating around the bush in life — whether it’s getting a lazy study group member to stay on task or delivering the key points in a five-paragraph essay.
But something great happens when you get to the point more. You are able to maximize your use of time and the amount of knowledge you retain. That always leads to higher quality output.
No. 20: Use breathing exercises when you are stressed.
Breathing exercises do not get enough credit for unlocking one’s full potential. When you pay attention to your breathing, it becomes easier to control it. And when you control your breath, you control your life.
No. 21: Stretch.
The human body was not meant to sit for long periods of time. Evolution clearly wanted us to be hunter-gatherers, yet, as we’ve come to rely more on technology, we have taken this active part of who we are out of the equation.
It is unnatural.
While the nature of your work or study time may require you to sit for longer than is healthy, you can counteract this by pausing for a stretch and fitting in more physical activity as you take care of business. Standing desks, anyone?
No. 22: Find time for music.
Music can be useful in many ways, especially from a daily habits standpoint.
Music can help to inspire and motivate us, or it can help to relax and focus our minds. Both ways are necessary, and they usually require a different type of music.
For work, I much prefer jazz or classical without lyrics. For working out, it doesn’t get better (or naughtier) than rap. For reading, low-key coffee shop music.
Make a list of the different types of music you enjoy in relation to the activity in which you like using it.
No. 23: Incorporate physical touch (and get your mind out of the gutter).
You definitely want to keep in mind the comfort levels of the people you are touching, the access/permissions, and the types of touching that you do. Nothing criminal or inappropriate should be a part of this, and it doesn’t even have to relate to sexual intimacy.
Just the act of warm and pleasant touch, in all its forms, can boost your mood and make you a more positive person who is well-equipped to deal with life on multiple fronts.
No. 24: Keep lavender and geranium oils on hand.
Some people think this is hokey, and that’s certainly an opinion worth considering. However, I’ve found that certain essential oils — namely the two listed above — are great for calming you, and you can accomplish a lot or reenergize while in that state.
At the very least, they can’t hurt anything so why not give them a try when you are feeling particularly stressed or antsy?
No. 25: Get more natural light.
Natural light is another big time mood-booster that will help to release the endorphins necessary for both physical and mental challenges. While you will want to take certain precautions depending on your eye and skin sensitivity to light, you definitely want it to be part of your day-to-day existence, no questions asked.
No. 26: Utilize good grooming habits.
It may take an extra 20 to 30 minutes per day, but it will be worth it if you get into the habit of putting your best foot forward from a grooming perspective.
That means random, stray hairs, showering, brushing teeth, wearing clean clothes, and other aspects of your physical appearance that factor in to the confidence you exhibit when being around other people.
It also can single-handedly give you a more lively social life.
No. 27: Pay attention to others.
Life is exciting, and it can be tempting to find the first person you can and go on and on about something that went well or poorly for you, but do yourself a favor and don’t.
Instead refocus any self-centered qualities you may have onto other people and pay attention to what they have to say.
When you pay attention to others, you learn more about them personally as well as the vital politics of everyday life. This can factor in to your advantage when trying to convince a teacher to round up your 89.5 to the higher letter grade.
It also can lead to you getting invited to more parties, landing more dates, and learning more stuff while in class or studying materials.
No. 28: Repeat a mantra.
Mantras are powerful because they keep at the forefront of your mind the things that you believe and what you hope to accomplish.
By keeping goals and philosophies front-and-center, you are less likely to forget about them and more likely to stay focused until they are accomplished.
(Or at least until you understand what you want versus what you need.)
No. 29: Wear flattering clothes.
It’s said that clothes make the person. While we would not dare be so shallow, we will admit there is something to what a great outfit can do for your demeanor and how you are perceived by other people.
You don’t want to wear things that will garner the wrong type of attention and judgment (however unjust that may seem).
We’re the first to admit that everyone should have the right to wear whatever they want without fear of judgment or reprisal. But there is what should be versus reality, and the truth of the matter is, what you wear can work for or against you.
By choosing clothes that flatter your form and/or features, you can worry less about perceptions and more about goals, objectives, and just being yourself.
No. 30: Improve your social game.
Introduce yourself to others. Eye contact, smile, laugh, open-ended questions — they all are important. But most importantly, you should enter each conversation prepared to listen more than you speak.
When you show a genuine interest in others, the opportunities to show the best parts of yourself will come naturally. As a result, more people will enjoy being around you and more people will want to know you.
No. 31: Place your toughest task for the day during your most productive time period.
Your most productive time period can vary depending on your circadian rhythms and schedule, but it is certainly important to know when it is. When you do, you can plan for the most challenging or important tasks to receive the core of your energy.
Wasting that time on things that either don’t matter or very little is how you fall behind and do subpar work. Sure, you may accomplish a greater quantity of tasks that way, but you won’t be moving the needle in your favor.
No. 32: Get to class (or professional exams) a comfortable number of minutes before go-time.
I’ve heard it said for tasks like job interviews and the ACT that it is best to give yourself a 15-minute cushion. Not a bad rule of thumb. For classes, you may only have five minutes of in-between time to work with, so you obviously cannot hit the 15-minute mark all the time. A couple should suffice.
The main thing you need to do is evaluate the environment of your meeting/class/test time in relation to your point of origin. If you are familiar with the location, you can make adjustments to how much time that you give yourself, but do try to plan for the unexpected by leaving cushions of time that account for some degree of fall-behind.
No. 33: Use Airplane mode during deep work times.
If you can commit to the discipline that it takes, airplane mode can help you increase your output during productive times. Make sure that you set it each day before you plan on doing homework or studying.
While it may still be easy to disable it, fighting through that urge will mean you don’t get constantly dinged by push notifications, emails, and text messages. It also cuts way back on battery life.
No. 34: Speak up every class period.
By participating in class discussions and interactions with your teacher, you will have a better chance of retaining difficult material, building a positive relationship with your instructor, and making class time less boring.
This tactic is a valuable one in training for the workforce as well because it enables you to get comfortable speaking up and being a factor in what goes on from day to day.
No. 35: Attend every class, especially when you are having trouble in that area.
The simple act of showing up to class every single day can go a long way in preparing you for challenging material. It gives you instant access to your teachers and other students who may be further along than you are. You can ask questions when confused and edify sketchy areas you have only begun to understand.
While the temptation may be great — particularly for those early morning classes — to check out early and often, you should avoid it and make sure that your seat is filled before roll-call.
No. 36: Rehearse class presentations.
Do it aloud. Do it timed. Do it in front of a mirror. Class presentations are far less scary after a few dress rehearsals.
No. 37: Save your best work.
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve kicked myself for not holding on to a paper that got me a particularly good reaction from one of my instructors.
The older you get, the more these solid “samples” matter, whether you are a writer or in some other type of technical (read: better paying) profession.
By being able to have validated “proof” on hand, you will be more attractive to employers, and you will become better at what you’re already good at.
No. 38: Hold on to bad work if it has the proper notations.
Bad work does not have as much of a long tail on it. You certainly would never want to send something to a future employer saying, “Look at how badly I suck at this,” but these failures can help you in the short term provided you have an understanding written down and/or committed to memory as to why it failed.
Learning from mistakes is important, and sometimes that means keeping them around and going through them each day to achieve a deeper understanding of things.
No. 39: Read out loud.
When you force yourself to read things aloud, you do something sneakily effective for long-term learning.
You see the words on the page. You verbalize them. You hear them.
That’s three “touches” with the material in a single attempt. This also is a great practice when going over your work before you turn it in to an instructor. By forcing yourself to verbalize what is on the page, you are more likely to catch mistakes.
No. 40: Record important meetings and class periods.
Sometimes it takes one or two runs at something before it settles in. Make sure you get into the habit of recording important meetings and class periods so you can easily review and internalize it later.
If you’re worried about time as a factor, just speed up the playback on the recording the next time or two that you listen to it. The familiarity already established will allow you to consume the info at a more rapid speed without missing anything.
No. 41: Keep mint gum on hand.
Mint has a longer “life expectancy” when being chewed, and it has healthier benefits than many of the heavily-sugared gums out there. It also keeps your muscles moving from a stationary position.
No. 42: Establish an accountability buddy.
The only thing as effective as being able to keep yourself in check is forcing yourself to be accountable to someone else. Ideally this will be someone that you can trade off with, returning the “accountability” favor they provide.
That may not be how it works out, though, because the person who can hold you the most accountable may not always have “demons” of their own that they need help with.
Even so, try to find some way that you can hold someone else accountable for one of their personal goals.
By coming at the struggle from both ends, you are more likely to gain and keep control over your own situation.
No. 43: Use the photo app on your phone to document things you don’t want to forget.
Also, review these snapshots at the end of each day and consider journaling about them.
No. 44: Use YouTube to deepen your understanding or learn about something you didn’t know.
Some knowledge is more conducive to a textbook while others need to be demonstrated. YouTube has been a terrific source for learning how to do things, particularly technical things.
If you are having trouble wrapping your head around a concept, there is usually a five-minute video that can help.
No. 45: Schedule things backward.
On most days, I will schedule my days backward asking, “What do I want to have accomplished by the end of this workday/school day?” This is a variation on the old “If I can do nothing else, what’s the one thing I absolutely must do today?”
Most of us, however, are not lucky enough to confine our daily to-do list to one item, so I like mine better.
When going the backwards scheduling route, the priorities tend to fall into place, and then you are able to more effectively organize them based on the time layout of your day.
No. 46: Use time cushions effectively.
Time cushions are important to maintaining momentum and motivation for a project. Make sure that for every hour, you are spending most of that time moving the needle on your tasks and objectives, but do try to support that hard work with some downtime that is filled with little perks.
No. 47: Take inventory.
When getting organized — and we all need to be organized — start by taking inventory of the things in your workspace.
Decluttering and building a more efficient workspace begins with knowing what you are up against. By having an inventory that you can believe and trust in, you can edify the organizational aspects of your daily habits.
No. 48: Recycle, repurpose, throw away, or gift the things you no longer need.
Once your inventory is complete it will a) be easier to add to and keep up with, and b) easier to do something about.
Your workspace probably has a lot of clutter and waste, but that clutter and waste may actually be useful to some. So think about giving away what you can.
For the rest, find ways to use it again (for the same or a different purpose). If it fits none of these categories, then and only then should you throw it away. The world has enough trash in it without you adding to it.
And the Last of the Daily Habits You Should Incorporate: Get control of your bad habits.
Sometimes the most effective of the daily habits that you can add to your life is less about what you do and more about what you don’t do.
If you have a drinking or smoking problem, for example, eliminating one or both of these from your life will go a long way even if you do none of the other things on this list.
Some people will shame you into thinking that you have to go cold turkey on everything at once or you are a failure. This could not be further from the truth.
Progress does not necessarily mean you finish something overnight (or at all). You simply have to start moving the needle. For help in this regard, check out some of the suggestions about breaking bad habits at this link.
So there you have it, folks: 49 daily habits you should be ready to incorporate for the weeks ahead. You may not hit them all, but even if you hit a few, you will have a much more productive and fun spring semester. Good luck!
[Featured Image by Flickr Creative Commons]