As I mentioned in the introduction post to this series, you might automatically be drawn to some of the most popular types of resolutions at the beginning of the new year: lose weight, quit smoking, get out of debt, and exercise more. These resolutions all have great benefits, especially if you conquer them, however, seeing as this is a site for PhD students, I want to focus on the resolutions that will improve your work and study habits for school. Here are a few tips that can help you resolve to become better students in 2014.
This resolution is good for anyone to tackle, but it will be especially helpful to students who can’t seem to catch up on work or get all of their time and materials organized well. It’s a bit vague to simply resolve to organize yourself better, but if you break it down into smaller, bite-sized pieces, then you’ll be able to accomplish the bigger goal by the end of the year. The following is a small list of short-term goals to accomplish throughout the year to become more organized:
- Organize your belongings for school, such as your backpack or laptop case.
- Throw away unnecessary papers, files, and old supplies.
- Purchase any additional supplies you might need throughout the school year.
- Designate a place for your current and new materials in your book bags, desk drawers, etc.
- Organize computer files by deleting them, renaming them, or saving them on an external hard drive.
Referring back to SMART goals in the previous blog post, we now know that becoming more organized can be specific, measurable, and attainable. I would say that this resolution is also realistic because breaking it up into smaller pieces makes it more possible to accomplish; plus, people can always learn more about being better organized as students. This resolution can also be timely because a year is plenty of time to become better organized in different ways, such as your school materials, home office, desk at work, etc. Becoming a better organized grad student would be a great resolution that contains substance, no matter what your major is, what your other resolutions are, etc. I’m sure if you try out this resolution, you’ll benefit from it in many ways, including the next resolution I want to suggest: procrastinating less.
Yes, you can absolutely resolve to procrastinate less in school and succeed, especially if you also resolve to be more organized. Notice how the resolution is about procrastinating less, not necessarily stopping procrastination. Making a resolution to stop procrastinating would probably not be a realistic goal for one year, so it will be best to break this resolution down into smaller pieces, also. To accomplish a goal of procrastinating less in 2014, I would suggest a few things: keep a schedule of all assignments, papers, readings, and tests, use different methods of keeping you from distractions, and ask someone to keep you accountable in your work.
Some people are naturally able to keep schedules pretty easily, but others either don’t find them necessary or are not good at updating them often. Keeping schedules updated takes a lot of will power, so if you don’t normally use a planner, you should give yourself a couple weeks to get accustomed to it, and then you might find that using a planner only benefits you and your schedule. Another way to reduce procrastination is by eliminating your distractions as much as possible. For instance, turn off your TV, phone, and other electronics before starting to work, and find a quiet place without a lot of people and with an atmosphere that you enjoy experiencing while studying. Also, tell close friends or roommates about your resolution to procrastinate less so they can help keep you accountable. If only you know about your goal, then you might be more forgiving of yourself than will other people who know you can do better.
I hope that my tips in this blog post have given you plenty to think about when deciding on your resolutions for the new year. Feel free to use the ones I mentioned and detailed today, but try to think of others that might benefit you and your studies even more, such as practicing an instrument more, making more time for reading, or finishing the novel you started three years ago. By now, you should have a good grasp on how to make resolutions doable and how to make them with substance. Don’t miss the next blog post about how to make these resolutions stick for the duration of the year.
What are some of your New Year’s resolutions for your particular studies in 2014?