5 Small Habit Changes for Students That Can Have a Big Impact

Can students really increase their grades by making tiny modifications to their weekly routine? Yes! Here are 5 small habit changes for students that can have a big impact.

1. Keep an effective planner.

We recommend every student keep an organized agenda or planner to keep track of all their weekly responsibilities. An important distinction when maintaining an effective planner is to identify which tasks should take top priority and which ones aren’t as pressing. When working in our X-Skills program, students learn to label their weekly tasks as alpha or beta tasks in order to better prioritize their weekly schedules ahead of time. Learn more about creating an effective planner that works for you!

2. Pack up the night before.

This habit is one of the easiest changes to make, and should provide immediate results. But first, let’s describe the problem – by not packing up their materials the night before, students risk one of two scenarios:

The first is feeling rushed in the morning – and as everyone knows, a stressful morning is not a good way to start the day!

The second (and worst case) scenario is forgetting to pack critical assignments or materials needed for class. Not surprisingly, these two scenarios tend to go hand in hand.

Unfortunately, this second scenario is incredibly common and we frequently hear concerns surrounding students who complete their assignments but repeatedly fail to turn them in on time. Some students are even so disorganized that assignments get lost in the shuffle – never to be seen again. In any case, simply packing up your materials the night before can help avoid 99% of these issues!

3. Get a good night’s sleep.

Another very easy change for most students is to simply commit to an earlier bedtime. Doing so not only encourages completing responsibilities at an earlier time but will also ensure students get a full 8 hours of healthy sleep each night. 

We really cannot stress enough the importance of sleep, especially for growing minds. Recent studies have referred to sleep deprivation among teens as an “epidemic.” To put it simply: get to bed on time! 

4. Study in a quiet space.

Another incredibly easy tip is to simply move where you study to an area with fewer distractions.

When we begin working with a student, one of the first things we ask them is “Where do you normally do your studying?” We cannot tell you how many times students have pointed to a dining room table or living room area (almost always with a TV in the background) when a quiet, distraction-free room is 20 feet down the hallway.

Whether it’s an office, spare bedroom, basement, or even your own bedroom – we encourage all students to create a quiet space they can retreat to when independently studying. Learn more about creating an effective study space!

5. Create realistic goals.

As tutors, we routinely see students who have, unfortunately, set themselves up for disappointment. This often comes in the form of highly unrealistic goals that typically involve making drastic changes in a short period of time. Examples include:

  • Increasing several letter grades before the next report card
  • Promising to study [x] number of hours every night
  • Aiming to read [x] number of books

When creating goals for yourself, try to remember the SMART acronym – goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. 

The key is essentially the focus of this blog: make small changes, not big ones! You will be more likely to follow through (and achieve!) your goals if they don’t require sweeping changes to your existing routine. For instance, a student who rarely studies should not suddenly commit to begin studying 2 for hours every night – they will likely only make it a couple of weeks before burning out!

The bottom line is this: when creating goals for yourself, try to ensure it’s something you will actually be able to stick to! Learn more about setting SMART goals for 2024.

Looking for more easy routine changes? Check out 10 Habits of Successful Students!