Whether we're looking forward to it or not, school is just around the corner! For me, this means squeezing in time to be with my family and trying to see all my friends from home before I leave for college. However, this summer I thought it would be productive to start implementing certain habits into my daily routine early on.
Hopefully, I'll be so prepared for college I won't even be worried about my classes! Wishful thinking, I know. But anyway, here are some habits I'm trying to add to my day-to-day before school starts.
1. Making sure your inner clock is set to the right time.
This tip is something I've struggled with almost every summer, but I'm doing a lot better this time around. As a psychology major, I've learned a lot about circadian rhythm, which is essentially a person's biological clock. When a person's sleep schedule is consistent, their inner clock starts regulating the time they wake up, making sleep more restorative and waking up that much easier.
This is why it's important to stick to your sleep schedule, though it can be kind of impossible in the summer. Personally, I'm a serial night owl; I constantly stay up way too late and then wake up in the afternoon. As nice as this is in the summer, it isn't too practical for college students, or all that practical in general.
So, I've been trying to follow two rules: wake up before 10 a.m., and get at least 8 hours of sleep. This of course means that I have to go to bed by 2 a.m. at the bare minimum, something that honestly shouldn't be as challenging as it has been.
For some, 10 a.m. may not be early enough for their school schedule. I picked 10 a.m. because all my classes start after 10, so it's a good time to start my day. For other classes (like the dreaded 8 a.m.'s), an earlier time is probably better. In the past, I've always disregarded sleep as more of a luxury than a necessity, but I promise you, it's so much easier to start your day when you've had a nice night of sleep.
2. Plan ahead so you're ready for anything!
Speaking of your sleep schedule, let's talk about your schedule in general. College can be a flurry of events at times, depending on how busy you choose to be. At the beginning of the semester, classes haven't picked up yet, but your social life certainly has.
Already, I'm sure you're getting emails about the clubs you're returning to, or getting texts from friends about when you'll hang out when school starts. And as school goes on, this business doesn't subside but rather increases tenfold as your classes start to pile on the homework and projects.
Before college, I never seriously used a calendar, but it's a necessity during the semester. I just bought a new planner last week, and I'm trying to fill out my concrete commitments, because even if you aren't doing it now, you'll have to when the semester starts.
Side note: if you have a lot of online obligations, I highly recommend Google Calendar. A lot of my clubs use it and my classes use Canvas, which you can link to Google Calendar as well. But anyway, take it from me, it's better to start sooner than later.
3. Up your email game!
One amazing aspect about summer is that my inbox is easily under control. I don't get 30+ emails per day, (and for some, 30 isn't all that much in a day, which is crazy to me!!) and the few emails I do get are easily read and simple to respond to. However, when classes begin, your inbox will start to flood with emails from your university, your professors, your advisors, and your activities.
It's easy to fall behind and sometimes easy to ignore. But if you ignore it, every once in a while you will miss something important. Something about housing, or health insurance, or tuition. My inbox has already begun filling up with reminders and Welcome Backs, so as a reminder to you, don't let yourself get behind on emails already, and try to up your email game!
Get in the habit of checking your email at certain times, such as when you wake up in the morning, when you eat lunch, or even as you go to bed. If you instill time to read and respond to emails, it'll be that much harder to fall behind. Because, we all know that absolutely no one wants to miss the reminder about that assignment they forgot about!
4. Try out healthy snacks.
Last semester I fell into a habit, except this one was an unintentional and unhealthy habit: I ate a ton of junk food. This is totally normal for a college student and definitely a part of the college experience. I don't intend to change it all that much other than to add some healthier options.
And let me just say, I am practically the furthest thing from a health nut, because I absolutely abhor most vegetables. However, I'm a firm believer that there are things that are healthy and taste good (they just probably won't taste as good as my Flaming Hot Cheetos, but whatever).
This past month, I have been trying out different healthy snacks that would be easy to have in a dorm room, and some of my more successful options are: yogurt and granola, celery and peanut butter, carrots with ranch dip, and almonds. These options may be great for you or sound absolutely terrible, but I highly recommend searching for one or two things you wouldn't mind eating that are (mildly) healthy.
5. Don't forget to hydrate!
One other thing that isn't too hard to do but is great for your body is to stay hydrated. At college, however, it's extremely hard to stay hydrated because you're always out attending class, eating, or having fun. So, unless I have a water bottle at my side, it's extremely hard for me to remember to drink water.
Similar to my email suggestion, I have tried to make sure I drink from my water bottle at specific times of the day. That way, if I don't have my water bottle, I am sure to retrieve it or get water elsewhere. It's suggested that women drink about 2.7 liters and men drink about 3.7 liters of water, and for me, that's drinking my water bottle 3 times a day.
Currently, it makes sense to align that with my meals, but when I get to school, I might try to align it with classes instead. It's all about what works best for your body and what's convenient for your schedule. But, if you start drinking your water now, hopefully you'll remember when you're in between classes as well.