Gone are the days when your parents told you when it was time to wake up, do your homework, clean your room, or do your laundry. College is the time when you are transitioning from being a teenager to a real adult (liberating and scary, I know)!
In order to be successful, self discipline is essential. When you don't have anyone telling you what to do, it can be very difficult to turn down a sporting event or party so you can write a paper or study. But without self-discipline, you could find yourself falling behind on your school work which can be difficult to recover from.
Self-discipline can be especially tricky to learn because students often have many things to balance. Some days, you just want to take a break – which is normal and healthy to do. But there will be times that you will just have to set aside the fact that you don't feel like doing something and do it anyway. It takes learning how to fight procrastination and practice at staying motivated and pushing through without having mom or dad looking over your shoulder.
College is costly, and learning to become a successful adult is essential to your future, and that means you can't ignore your responsibilities and lose sight of your overall goals. Learning to be a self-disciplined individual may require a transformation in a lot of your routines and habits. But stick with it, keep the end goal in sight (your success and independence!) and you will be one step closer to becoming a true adult. Here are some tips to help you get started.
Create a weekly schedule
Write EVERYTHING in your schedule! Include blocks for laundry, eating, sleeping, and studying. On top of your weekly schedule, list what you want to accomplish every day. Re-write your to-do list every day to help you prioritize your tasks and get the most important things done. Start by working on the most important task each day and work your way down the list. When you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve for the day, chances are very high that you can proactively accomplish the tasks. Don't forget there is always that helpful "reminder" feature on your phone that can really help you to be on time for those most important "To Do's" or deadlines.
Create a monthly schedule
Set aside the time at the end of each month to plan for the following month. Take out your phone calendar or agenda and write in any appointments you may have, meetings, social plans, travel, and any additional "me time" you want to schedule. This allows you to take the time to look ahead, and moving forward, you can add it in your weekly agenda.
Stick to your routine
Once you've created your schedule, chances are you wrote in the same tasks at more or less the same times every day. Apply the spirit of routine to as many aspects of your life as possible, and you will be well on your way to completing what you set out to do. Studies show that it takes approximately 3 weeks to do the same task on schedule to become routine. Before you know it, you will do things without having to look at your schedule every hour of each day.
Have a contingency plan
More likely than not, someone is going to knock on your door and ask if you want to watch tonight's football game, order a pizza, or catch a new series on Netflix. This very appealing social event will often occur right in the middle of your study time. You should definitely spend time with friends, but keep in mind you're at college to study first! If you do choose to watch the game, form a backup plan. This could be as simple as only watching half of the game and spending the other half studying. Just remember, when half-time comes, exercise your newly achieved self-discipline and actually go!
It's very easy to see something unpleasant coming up on your to-do list and decide to put it off for another time. Don't do it! It is so easy to waste precious mental energy dreading doing things that have to be done. The quicker you get it over with, the quicker you can move on to something you want to do more. So stop looking at those funny cat videos and get down to business.
I cannot stress how important this is. If you have a test to study for and a project due tomorrow, but you have to work tonight - you should ask someone to cover your shift so you can focus on school. If you stick to your daily to-do list, you shouldn't run into this problem! But we all are guilty of letting things fall by the wayside, so remember to prioritize when this happens to you.
Although there's no perfect science on how to balance your social life, academics, and work, incorporating these practices can help you develop the self-discipline you need to adapt to your academic environment. Take some time to figure out what works best for you, stick with it, and you will be one step closer to becoming a successful adult.
Best of luck!