Summer is coming to a close, which means it’s almost time to get back into the school groove. These key steps will help you wipe the summer slate clean to make room for a new, more productive you.  


Hand holding thought bubble.One Thing at a Time

You might be on a time crunch, but making a long list of things you want to change and tackling them all at once is not a good idea. You need to conquer one item at a time. This doesn’t mean you can’t go after all of your goals—it just means that focusing on one at a time is the most efficient way to reach success.


Make SMART GoalsSMART goals diagram.

In order to make good habits, you must first make S.M.A.R.T. — Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely — goals. Maybe the habit you’re looking to form involves keeping a cleaner kitchen. This isn’t a S.M.A.R.T. goal in and of itself. A specific goal would be to make sure the sink is empty and the counters are clean before you go to sleep at night. You can measure this goal simply by observing whether or not there are dishes in the sink and/or food on the counters. This S.M.A.R.T. goal lists two small things you can do every night to ensure your kitchen is cleaner. They’re attainable and realistic because they are small, bite sized tasks instead of a huge cleaning mission. They’re timely because they only take a bit of your time before you go to bed—time you might’ve otherwise spent aimlessly scrolling.


Animated clock figures.The Trade-Off

When you say yes to one habit, you are saying no to another. Take a good look at the habits you practice throughout the day. Maybe you spend three hours in the afternoon watching TV or napping. Maybe you set your alarm to 6 but snooze until 8:30, gaining 2.5 hours of poor-quality rest. Find an area of your day with time to spare. Maybe find a bad habit, like the snoozing, and replace this with a good habit like writing in a journal or studying each morning. When you take a good look at where the time in your day is going, you might be inspired to make some serious changes.


Don't forget sticky note.Three R’s

The human body forms habits according to a certain process. This process is sometimes referred to as the three R’s of habit formation. First, there is resolve. Resolve is like a reminder. It signals your body to perform the habit. A commonly used example for this is a ringing phone. The phone’s ringtone is the resolve or the reminder. This reminds your body to answer the phone. The act of answering the phone is called the routine. It is sometimes also called rehearsing the habit. Hearing the person’s voice on the other end of the phone line is the reward, which happens to be the third R.


By Martha Kendall Custard