I am a firm proponent of daily routines and here’s why: I am more productive when my life remains guided by regularity. I do, however, allow myself freed from these habits when out of my semester responsibilities. But once back in school, I rely on routines that provide consistencies to help me remain productive.

Being a college student requires similar semester habits in order to stay organized. Juggling several classes and assignments as well as any extra-curricular college student activities requires continuity. This article focuses on three practical, daily occurrences that will promote college success: alarm clock consistency, study time consistency, and meal consistency.

Alarm Clock Consistency—Train Your Sleep

The first helpful habit promoting college success would be regular alarm clock use.

In the article “Organizing Your First Week/s of Classes,” I mention using a phone’s calendar for remembering important dates. Likewise, using the phone’s alarm with a consistent wake time contributes to keeping a routine. I know we are not all alike, but for me, my body adjusts to routines, and waking the same time weekdays is part of that. I know this because once my semester ends, I will wake without an alarm at the same time for several mornings the first couple weeks into an academic break.

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Find out if your body will do the same. You might discover that you feel physically and emotionally better having a consistent routine that begins at the same time every morning.

Study Consistency—Train Your Brain

A second helpful habit promoting college success would be similar study times. I realize that out of class work is not necessarily consistent: you might study for a test one week and write an essay for a different class another week. But having other daily routines allows you to easily implement a similar study time.

Plan to study in the afternoon before dinner or maybe after dinner. Just be diligent in finding the best study time for you. Your brain will adapt to these repetitions and you will soon notice positive results in the classroom.

Meal Consistency—Train Your Stomach

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One last helpful habit promoting college success would be regular meal times. Again, I eat at the same times for breakfast and lunch every weekday during the semester. My dinners, however, tend to be less routine but they are definitely not erratic.

Fortunately, college cafeterias maintain consistent meal times, which allow students to practice consistent eating schedules. If you use the college caf inconsistently because you opt to occasionally prepare your own meals, try to keep your meals on a regular schedule.

From personal experience, my intellectual and emotional health remains strong partly due to a regulated eating schedule. Having consistent daily meal times will not only help you keep your busy college life organized but it will also help your body work efficiently.

If your body is waking, studying, and eating at similar times, it’s probably going to be more efficient, and this will offer positive benefits for you in the classroom. Though these three suggestions seem minor and maybe even limiting to spontaneity, they are easy to do because they are practical, everyday needs.

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I’m guessing that the first class meeting or even the first week of classes is considered a “blow-off” by most students. I mean, it’s about the roster and syllabus, some snooze time for sure. Yet, there’s that nerd sitting in the front desk, removing a note pad from his backpack and scribbling on the page (I know because I’m that nerd). As an instructor, I definitely notice that person. I assume the student is making an effort to stay organized at the beginning of the semester, giving himself the best opportunity to succeed in college. I suggest two practical tips for college success: using calendars, making notes.

Use Phone or Pocket/Desk Calendar for Recording Important Dates

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I use my iPhone calendar for any date I need to remember. Six month dental cleaning—goes into the calendar. Need to transfer a textbook from home to office—into that day’s calendar, alerting me with a pop-up reminder when I know I’m home that night, so I can pack the book. But I don’t bog my phone calendar with every date. If I’m planning classes and need to remember three weeks in advance that I will have class in a computer lab rather than the assigned classroom, I write it on the college’s complimentary desk calendar.

Student budget doesn’t allow for a calendar? You should be able to locate a free one. My credit union gives them away as marketing. Check to see if any department on campus provides them, including the college bookstore. If your search proves unsuccessful, visit a dollar store. Starting a habit of calendar use will help organize your academic schedule.

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Write Notes and Highlight Syllabi for Recording Important Policies

Another important aspect of keeping school life organized requires noting policies. When students are acclimating to academic life even as returning students, it’s that first week or even first few weeks of the semester that can be overwhelming, making it difficult to remember a professor’s aside comments about classroom expectations and policies.

Did she say she would drop a lowest test grade? That could really be important later in the semester. Does the syllabus state the department’s attendance policy? My freshman writing classes have an explicit attendance policy in the syllabi that I verbally and visually communicate the first week. In addition, I require an electronic open-syllabus exam the second week of class that alerts students again to the attendance requirement.

I’m continually surprised at the end of the semester when my students seem surprised they have violated this policy. The point I’m emphasizing: note taking isn’t just for lectures, so make and highlight notes, especially during those early semester classes.

The items I’ve mentioned: remembering test dates as well as classroom and syllabus policies, might be the difference of a final letter grade in a class. A lot of life efficiency concerns organization, and students who focus on staying organized will most likely be more successful during their academic careers.

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