Developing and Sticking to a Routine in College

Creating a routine can sometimes be really difficult, especially in college when every week is a different and plans change very frequently. I wanted to write this article to talk about some of my tips for finding routine in this kind of environment.

My history with finding routine in college starts off in my freshman year. I think the first month and a half I did a really good job of establishing a routine. I would work out consistently, go to bed at a reasonable time, and balance my social life with school pretty well. However, after a month and a half, my workload got heavier and I started spending the majority of my time doing my homework or socializing with friends. I stopped working out, and kept telling myself that “I didn’t have time for myself”. To be honest, this similar routine happened my sophomore and junior year as well.

To get to my point, I think the most difficult part of a routine is sticking to it when life gets hard, whether that comes in the form of work, school or social stress.

  1. Make a daily schedule of things you want to do.

I find it extremely helpful to see what things I need to do every day. I also have a calendar, but I think having a concrete set of items to do for a day is very beneficial because it makes the day feel more manageable. Additionally, it allows you to become better at determining how long it takes to do certain tasks and larger homework assignments as well. I used to roll my eyes at the idea of scheduling in time for friends, but I now add some of my hangouts to my Google Calendar. Sometimes life gets busy, and there should be no shame in scheduling in your social life!

2. Make time for yourself.

It is definitely easier said than done, but I think incorporating self-care into your schedule is so important. Whether this comes in the form of exercise, face masks or writing medium articles, anything goes! I’ve found that if I’m exercising consistently, I feel so much better week to week. Personally, I like to exercise early in the day because it forces me to get out of bed and gives me more energy throughout the day. Overall, I think it is important to take a break from work and friends and spend time treating yourself!

3. Reward yourself for completing your routine!

Personal accountability is really difficult especially when you are trying to hold yourself accountable for something you don’t want to do. That’s why I think it is necessary to reward yourself from time to time for achieving your goals. Whether it is letting yourself buy a coffee or go out to a nice dinner, even the smallest things can make you feel so much better about doing your day to day work.

4. Be honest with yourself from the beginning.

The biggest struggle I’ve found with routines is creating routines that are achievable. I wish there was some sort of perfect formula to come up with a routine, but I think it is a mix of practice and being honest with yourself. “Am I going to be able to work out every day later in the semester when I have midterms?”, “Is this 5 hour work session actually going to be 5 hours of productive work?”. Setting lofty standards can be very demotivating when you don’t end up reaching half of your goals for the day.

5. If something’s not working, change it!

I think it is also important to adjust your goals and routine based on your self reflection. I used to feel very discouraged when I didn’t complete all of my daily tasks. If you feel like this is happening a lot, there might be something in your routine that is blocking you, or is just simply too much! Don’t be afraid to change your routine, it doesn’t mean you’ve failed, in fact I think will probably cause more growth. Checking in with your goals every few weeks is a great way to have some self reflection.

I want to end this article by saying that having a routine as a whole is not necessarily the best way to live for every individual. The larger point I wanted to make is that being honest with yourself and checking in with the way you are doing things every once in a while is usually beneficial!