7 Habits: Be Proactive

In our post about the 7 habits of successful students, we mentioned that the first habit is to be proactive and never procrastinate. Of course, procrastinating is easy to do and being proactive is hard! It requires action not passivity and determination not complacency. You might procrastinate for a variety of reasons, both consciously and subconsciously: lack of self-esteem, motivation, caring, or perfectionism. We can’t help you with these personal reasons, but we can help you set goals, nurture study habits, and develop time management skills.

1. Make (and keep to!) a schedule

Having a schedule keeps you organized and informed about the tasks you must complete. It helps manage your time in the best way because you can determine how much time needs to be dedicated to your tasks and activities. Schedule the necessary items first, but also write in flexible time. Use only one method of tracking your schedule, whether it be a physical planner or calendar, the calendar app on your phone, or another scheduling app.

2. Get a study partner to create an accountability factor and cheer each other on

Having someone to do homework with or study with helps both of you stay on task and stay motivated. Having a partner will make the task seem more manageable and you can encourage each other to tackle the separate tasks you each have to accomplish. You’re more likely to follow through on something if you make a promise to someone else and not just to yourself.

3. Break up tasks into manageable chunks and start small

As Mark Twain says, “The secret to getting ahead is getting started.” The secret of getting started is breaking your complex, overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.” He is entirely right. If you think of your task as small steps, it’s easier to get started (and eventually complete) than if you think of it as one large project.

4. Reward yourself when goals are completed

Give yourself an incentive to get things done by rewarding yourself after completing a task. Positive reinforcement allows you to look forward to the end of a project since you get to treat yourself afterwards. It could be watching an episode of your favorite TV show, a chocolate square, or even a walk outside. Anything that you appreciate works to increase your proactivity.

5. Create a productive environment

If you are surrounded by an environment that allows you to feel productive, you will be less likely to procrastinate. Have a neat and organized desk that is a designated work-space. It’s best not to work from bed since that is a designated sleep-space. Keep tools you might need handy, like pens/pencils, a calculator, and a notepad. If you work well with background music, create a study playlist. Make sure you’re comfortable: get rid of distracting smells, have adequate lighting and temperature, and get yourself suitable seating arrangements (or a standing desk if you prefer).

Change does not come swiftly and easily. You have to consistently take steps for permanent change, but it can be done! Look for a more in-depth review of step two in the 7 habits of successful students, look for a mentor, next week!

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