When you’re engrossed in your studies, it’s easy to lose sight of yourself in the process. So many people demand so much from you, and it seems like it takes up all your time. But sometimes we need to take a step back, check in with ourselves and remember who we are.
To be honest, I used to think that sounded like a load of crap. But as I’ve gotten older I’ve come to the realization that those daily checking in moments are vital to my mental and physical health. So here are 8 small habits that I’ve incorporated in my life, and that have made my life as a student so much better.
Waking up earlier and spending time with myself
You knew it was coming, didn’t you? I know those ”wake up at 5AM and get more stuff done!” articles and books are popular, but that is not the goal here. I used to be terrible at waking up early. If I had class at 2pm, I wouldn’t come out of bed before 9 or 10. And while there is nothing wrong with that – we all have different moments when we are at our most productive – it made me feel less motivated and productive. Even waking up just an hour or an hour and a half earlier allowed me to have so much more time in the morning.
Doing more of what scares me
Speaking up in class, presenting material, volunteering to explain something. It’s all stuff I used to find incredibly daunting. But because I literally forced myself to do it more, it became a lot less daunting and it helped me to feel more confident about my skills. These skills are incredibly valuable and will come in handy at so many points in your life. University isn’t only about getting smarter, but it’s about developing these skills as well. Take on opportunities whenever you can and you’ll notice how much easier those daunting tasks will become.
Being mindful of the time I spend on my phone
We spend so much more time on our phones than we realize. Apple has recently incorporated a screentime feature into their iOS, so if you’ve recently updated your iPhone you can see how much time you’ve spent on your phone recently.. Ready for a wake-up call? There are also plenty of separate apps that allow you to track your time. As someone who is trying to be more mindful of the time I spend scrolling through Twitter and Reddit, it’s perfect. I could do so many more productive things with my time!
Cleaning can seem like a huge task if you put it off — believe me, I know. This is why I’ve incorporated daily cleaning into my life. I just sweep through my apartment once or twice a day, picking up laundry, dirty dishes and other random stuff. It takes me five minutes at the most, but it keeps the place clean and tidy. I sweep the floors about twice a week for the exact same reason. I hate dirty floors, so keeping up with them is almost a form of self-care for me, lol.
Spend time studying the material before AND after class
In law school, we need to learn so much material. For tutorials, we need to do a lot of preparing (reading and answering learning goals) and for lectures, we need to read cases as well as material from our textbooks. Although it’s impossible to read everything before AND after each class, I try to spend some time studying the material before and after. That could be rereading parts that weren’t clear, spending time condensing my notes into an outline, comparing my lecture notes to the textbook or even talking about it with a classmate.
Packing my stuff the night before
My boyfriend does this, which inspired me to do it too. if I have a 9AM lecture, something I don’t want to do is running around my apartment looking for stuff last minute. That stress isn’t only unhealthy, it’s also unnecessary. It really is true that a good morning routine starts with a good nighttime routine. So now I pack my bag, make sure I pick an outfit and make my lunch the night before.
Studying at the library instead of at home
I have always loved the library. My university has their own library with plenty of study spots, and there is also a large library in the city center with some cozy places to get your work done. I prefer the university library just because it has a silent room and most people are actually working there (there are no kids like in the regular library). But what I love the most is the productive vibe I get from there — seeing everyone work makes me want to work as well. Perfect motivation. Not to mention the fact that I get distracted so easily at home, I suddenly remember that I need to do this, and this and this. That doesn’t happen when I’m in the library and I know I need to do x amount of studying done before I go home.
Daily affirmations – reminding myself that I belong
I already mentioned imposter syndrome in an earlier post. If you’ve come a long way, like me, and you made it to a place you never thought you’d make it (for me, that’s law school), you need to remind yourself that you belong. YOU worked hard to be here, YOU are smart and capable enough to make it through. Many of us can feel like frauds and we expect ourselves to not be smart enough and drop out sooner rather than later. But that is not true. We belong. And with enough hard work, we’ll finish strong.