September restart for university students

1. 9. 2021 | Student Life

start of a new academic yearJust like New Year is somehow a magical date for most people to start with new habits or breaking old ones, September feels similar to students. There’s something about a new academic year that makes you think that you can make it this time, even though reality usually proves you wrong. How to actually make a successful September restart?

Analyse last year

Students who decide they need to start fresh in September do so because they felt unsuccessful or mediocre in their previous year. However, if that feeling is too vague, you don’t know what to work on next year so the chance that you’ll repeat your mistakes is high. Sit down and really analyse it. What habits aren’t helping you at all but you keep doing them? Sometimes it might be something quite small but changing that one thing will do wonders to your study life.

Write it down

Maybe you found out that you go to sleep too late, feel tired in the morning and therefore you can’t focus on morning lectures. Or you get drunk every single weekend which (apart from not being healthy) isn’t doing any good to your studies because studying with a hangover is a no-no. Perhaps you have a roommate who is too noisy, doesn’t ever clean their mess and you generally don’t get on well so you find studying in your room uncomfortable. Whatever that is, write it down and properly face it. Don’t let it stay just a vague feeling as you can’t change something you’re not fully aware of.

Change it with a concrete plan

Now that you have a precise idea what needs to be changed, you need to make a plan. Always complaining about your situation but not doing anything to change it obviously doesn’t work. Again, sit down and write down concrete steps you’re going to take. Finding another accommodation that is quieter might seem too intimidating at first but it comes down to just a few simple baby steps you need to follow like looking for apartment offers, calling some people and going for flat tours.

It’s much harder if you need to change not your environment, but your habits. However, if your bad habits are connected to your unsuitable environment, you need to change that first. Flat-share with people who are both fun and studious. Find a study partner, start visiting the school library. Whatever you decide to change or adjust, you have to make it concrete so that there’s no space for ambiguity in your mind and you know exactly what needs to be done.

Baby-step it

You don’t have to change anything dramatically; several tiny changes are usually better anyway. If you aren’t used to studying hard, suddenly deciding that you’re going to study for eight hours a day will most probably only result in another failure and diminish your confidence. Baby-step the change. Make a resolution that you’ll focus on consistency rather than volume.

If your goal is to get better grades but the idea of studying all weekend makes your head hurt in advance, decide that you’ll go the library each day just for half an hour of deep work. Consistency is the key here. Studying half an hour every day is, in the long run, much more efficient than sitting the whole weekend, buried under books.

Make it timely

Again, a plan that is too vague isn’t going to cut it even though you at least know WHAT needs to be done. The next step is to decide WHEN it needs to be done. I’ll go to the library four times this week might seem okay but it’s too unprecise so you might end up postponing it. Instead, decide something like this: “After my XXX lecture at XXX o’clock is over, I’ll go to the library immediately and study for XXX minutes/hours.” Now it feels like a proper thing you can put into your schedule, right? Exactly! Make it an appointment with yourself and stick to it.

Restart your restart if needed

It might happen to you several times—this feeling that you’ve started quite successfully but lately you’ve been slipping. Don’t wait for New Year or another September, you can restart your restart any time! Psychologically, we like to start new things with some significant date but Mondays also feel like fresh start. If you slipped, start anew next Monday with a clean page in your diary as if it’s New Year. Just don’t give up.

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