By Katie Azevedo, M.Ed.
While I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s resolutions (isn’t any time the right time to do something good for ourselves?), I do appreciate the “start fresh” vibe of January 1st.
Let’s begin with the difference between a goal and a hope: a goal involves a plan; a hope does not.
If you read through the below list of New Year’s resolution ideas for students and find one to run with, the only way you’ll reach it is by making a plan. Do not underestimate the importance of making a plan. Here’s a tutorial for how to set and meet goals using reverse engineering.
New Year’s resolution ideas for students
1. Get organized – digitally.
New Years is a great time to get your school digital like in order. Create folders for each class in Google Drive and move documents to the right folder. If your Drive is full of documents from past years, create folders for those years. Clear out your downloads folder. Clean up your desktop. Part of this particular New Year’s resolution should include creating a regular weekly routine for maintaining your digital organization. Here are 20 organization ideas for school.
2. Get organized – in actual life.
Make a plan to keep your external spaces in order. Have a system for regularly clearing clutter, keeping surfaces free of piles, and putting things away at the end of the day. Consider making a shut-down routine with a simple checklist that you run through at the end of each school day.
3. Ask for help more often.
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of strength. Students who don’t ask for help when they really need it usually lack one or both of the following skills: 1) the ability to recognize when they don’t understand something, and 2) the ability to communicate their needs. Make it a New Year’s resolution to pay attention to moments of confusion; when this happens, ask for help. The more you do it, the more natural it feels. Here are practical tips about asking for help.
4. Reduce screen time.
School these days involves so much screen time, well beyond the 2-hour maximum recommended by the American Heart Association. If you’re spending 5-7 hours a day on the screen for school, then most of your activities outside of school shouldn’t involve a screen. Make it a goal to reduce your total screen time by 10% every 2 weeks, or resolve to do at least 1 non-screen activity per day. Track your progress using one of these apps.
5. Improve your note-taking.
Note-taking is a skill that sticks with you long after school. If you know deep-down that your note taking could be better, make it a New Year’s Resolution to up your game. The only way to get better at taking notes is to take more notes, so consider making it a goal to take notes every day in your classes – even if you don’t have to. Here’s a tutorial for taking notes in class, and here’s one if you have ADHD.
6. Use your assignment notebook daily.
You may have started the school year all gung-ho about your assignment notebook, but then lost your mojo. Let the new year be the time to renew your commitment to your assignment notebook, with the goal of using it every single day, even if you don’t feel you have to. On days when you have no homework, write “no homework” in your notebook instead of leaving it blank. The only way to build the habit is to never skip a day – so again, use a habit-tracker app to see if you can keep a streak going.
7. Recognize signs of burnout and anxiety.
Academic burnout is the result of ignoring signs of overwhelm and stress over an extended period of time. While occasionally feeling overwhelmed and stressed is a normal part of the school experience, it becomes a problem when these feelings persist day after day. If this situation sounds familiar, then consider a New Year’s resolution that involves slowing down, cutting back on commitments, and asking for help. There are times when it makes sense to rally to the finish line, to “suck it up,” so to speak – but not when your mental health is at stake.
Of course, you may choose to set a New Year’s resolution that has nothing to do with school. You might have a goal of saving a certain amount of money by a certain date, connecting with friends and family more often, or improving your cooking skills. These are wonderful New Year’s resolutions too! Regardless of what your goal is this year, I return to the advice I gave in the beginning of this post: You must have a concrete plan if you want any chance of making it happen.