Aug. 20, 2021

Building habits for academic success

Accomplish more and achieve your goals by creating and maintaining habits

Getting motivated to complete assignments and readings associated with each class you’re taking can be daunting and lead to procrastination. By building habits, you’ll be able to accomplish more.

Motivation interference happens when you sit down to do something and your brain wanders to an activity you would rather do, like when you need to read a chapter from your textbook and you start thinking about engaging with your friends on social media. Habit building can help with this and increases the likelihood of you completing tasks. When you think about habits, tie them to one or more of your goals.

There are three pieces that go in to creating a habit:

  • Reminders: cues to starting a habit. These should be things you already do such as getting a coffee before you start studying.
  • Habits: the behaviours you want to establish.
  • Rewards: celebrations for when the task is over. They can be something external like watching a movie at the end of your study session or simply congratulating yourself for finishing your work. This creates positive feelings around the habit you’re trying to build.

You might have to break down additional steps within the habit itself depending on what you’re working on. For instance, if your habit is to complete an assigned reading, you sit down at your workspace and your cue is to use reading strategies. There should also be a distinct end such as tidying up your desk.

Within the overall habit, you’ll want to include short, frequent breaks. These should be separate from rewards. Plan a distinct activity like taking a walk or stretching and try to avoid social media.

You can create a study habit plan for yourself or connect with an academic development specialist for more support or check out our videos on Habit Building, and Goal Setting.