by Joanne Stirrup, Content Manager
College is your friend who eats quinoa, runs for fun, and thinks Fitbit steps are a personality. You often find yourself skipping steps and breathing hard to keep up with them, and somehow they never seem to notice that one of you clearly has asthma and hates salad. But I’ve spent the last year of my life training (although I’ve never seen the inside of the on-campus gym) to keep up with this speed walker, and it started with an overhaul of my morning routine. I’ve found that when it seems like college never stops for you, you can take some control of it first thing in the morning. Here are some of the habits that helped me!
#1: Wake Up 60-90 Minutes Before Your First Class
Being late for class is a different type of panic. Avoid setting that tone for the rest of the day by setting your alarm for an hour to an hour and a half before your first class (and try to break the habit of snoozing- limiting it at first can help eliminate it completely). Now, you have time to eat breakfast, read an article, and scroll through TikTok. Why should you have frantic mornings when things are already hectic enough?
#2: Make Your Bed
I never do it at home, but I promise, it is a small-- yet crucial-- win to start your day (never underestimate the power of little victories in college). It declutters your often small space and makes the transition to your midday nap or next night’s sleep even smoother.
#3: Have a Cup of Your Favorite Tea
Tea has revolutionized my morning routine. The first cup refreshes me, gives me a sense of calm, and provides the right amount of energy to power me through my first class. Might I add, it is also DELICIOUS.
#4: Prepare for the Day with Drinks and Snacks
I like to make an extra cup of tea for my thermos and pack a few snacks in my bag before I leave for the day so that I can have more freedom in my schedule. Now, I can eat in between or during classes, and I have the tea to keep me energized. With this extra habit, I can focus more on going to study spots than to the dining hall or all the way back to my dorm to refuel.
#5: Eat Breakfast
I know this is a contested topic, but I feel like I have more energy and can focus much better once I’ve eaten. When I'm hungry, my brain is only thinking about food. Also, it is a time that you can socialize before your first class, watch some YouTube or Netflix, or just have some alone time before the day really begins. Embrace all the opportunities for “you time.”
Note: However, if this isn’t for you, there are always alternatives, like bringing breakfast on-the-go. You know what works best for you and your busy schedule!
#6: Consult Your Planner and Make Some Lists
It’s possible that I make too many lists, but there’s something so satisfying about crossing off even the smallest task. While I eat breakfast, I go through the to-do lists from the day before and reorganize my tasks (by class, by club, and by everyday tasks like laundry and cleaning my bathroom). I’ll often set times for when I’d like to have a certain task done, which keeps me on track throughout the day (I’ll then refine the list between classes and solidify it for the next morning at night).
#7: Catch Up on Global Events
It helps to have your major news source of choice downloaded on your phone so that you can be up-to-date with all the important events as they happen. However, in the morning, I like to see more comprehensive summaries of the last day, so that I feel informed when I go to class (if you’re into finance, Morning Brew has a good free daily email service with engaging content).
#8: Get Ahead on Some Work
Even if it’s only 15 minutes, I like to use my spare time to get started on work or study my notes from the day before. Even if it’s not peak productivity, it’s enough to make me feel a small sense of accomplishment. After all, every completed assignment is just the sum of all your smaller efforts, so this is just one step in the right direction.
Remember that each of these habits can be framed as acts of self-care, which for me, has not only been a productivity-booster but also a good mental health practice. Take this time to be proud of how hard you’re working, and don’t forget to celebrate your showers, your snack breaks, and every other one of your small victories. Get creative with your habits to find what works for you, and once you solidify the routine, your reinvigorated stamina will help you stay on pace for success in college!