We go through the ritual of making New Year’s resolutions year after year, promising to better ourselves from January onwards. “New Year, new me” fills timelines and headlines, and the frosty air is filled with murmurs of Dry January, 30-day fitness challenges, and clever ways to save money.
The best resolutions become habits, so instead of short-lived abstinence from sambuca or a brand-new, barely-worn pair of trainers, try making one (or all) of these resolutions stick this year:
First and foremost, resolve to stop procrastinating. We know this is tough, especially with the internet as an endless source of quizzes (ever wondered what kind of cactus you are based on your chocolate preferences?) and cat memes, but you’ll be amazed at how much you can get done in a day if you manage to cut it out.
The easiest way to cut back on procrastinating is to remove the temptation. Log out of social media accounts, leave your phone elsewhere, and commit to focusing for a set period of time. If you’re really lacking willpower, download an add-on for your browser such as StayFocusd to block the websites that you find most distracting.
We like to pretend that student life is all about Netflix binges and midday breakfasts. While these are things to be truly grateful for, there’s so much more to it than that. As a student, you’re expected to maintain good grades, enjoy a busy social life, and engage in a healthy dose of extra-curricular activities. From submitting assignments on time to remembering your best mate’s birthday, you can make your life infinitely easier by being properly organised.
Keeping on top of a busy schedule can be tricky to master, and different techniques work for different people. The trick is to write everything down. This can be on a calendar, in a diary, or typed into Notes on your iPhone, but starting a system you can follow and stick to is key.
If you’re an Instagram or Pinterest lover, you can feed your passion for pretty things with a Bullet Journal – a notebook-based organisation system with endless potential for customisation. If you like to keep things simple, old-school productivity tools like post-its, to-do lists or diaries will help you keep everything in one place.
Take care of yourself
From lecture theatres to crowded nightclubs, students spend a lot of time crammed into closed spaces with one another. This makes for a germy breeding ground for illnesses that can quickly sweep through entire uni populations, especially in winter.
Having moved away from home, it’s time to take responsibility for looking after yourself. Sure, your mum will call you on Skype to ask if you’re eating properly, but she won’t be there to force-feed you your veggies. Doing enough exercise, eating nutritious meals, and limiting the Jagerbombs will go a long way to keeping you fit and healthy – meaning you’ll have a sturdy immune system.
Keeping well physically will have a huge effect on your mental health. We found that a massive 96% of students suffer from stress at university. While it’s natural to feel stressed when dealing with the pressures of studying and keeping on top of your own finances, it’s important to find healthy ways to cope with how you’re feeling. Managing stress will help keep your mental resolve strong so you can properly balance productivity and enjoyment.
Keep on top of your spending
Being smart with money makes university a far more enjoyable experience. Spending your nights out worrying whether you can afford the taxi home, or carefully trying to persuade your parents to help with next month’s rent, makes it pretty hard to enjoy yourself.
Cut back on impulse purchases by physically withdrawing what you can afford to spend each week in cash. Contactless payments make it all too easy to squander a couple of quid here and there; if you can see the money in front of you, you’ll be far more aware of how quickly it’s disappearing. By properly budgeting – and sticking to your budget – you’ll find handling day-to-day costs less stressful.
When it comes to saving, set realistic goals that will motivate you. If you’re planning a holiday or need to buy festival tickets, set a countdown on your phone to remind you how long you’ve got until you need the money. Not only will you get more excited as the date gets closer, you’ll also start to feel the pressure to pinch on pennies.
Experience something new
Experience is every bit as important as what you learn in lectures, and being at university is the perfect time to gain some. From picking up new skills you can show off on your CV, to making memories with your nearest and dearest, being a student means you’re expected to experiment, and no one will hold it against you if it doesn’t work out.
As your brain is already (hopefully!) in gear for learning, you should find it easier to pick up new skills. Ever wanted to speak another language? Learn to code? There’s probably an app, a student society, or a YouTube channel to show you exactly how. Try and get your mates involved to rile up some healthy competition that will keep you motivated.
Got some idea of what you want to do when you graduate? Speak to your tutors about how you can give it a go. Loads of workplaces have work experience schemes in place to give eager undergrads a feel for working life. Even if you have no idea what you’re hoping to do, dabbling with a few different career possibilities could help you narrow down your search.
Make the most out of 2017
Keeping New Year’s resolutions is way harder than making them. In fact, almost a third of Brits admit to breaking theirs before the end of January. New Year is the perfect time for a fresh start, so forget about the frivolous spending and Snapchat marathons that got in your way last year, and try sticking to a resolution that’ll help you have a tip-top 2017.