Really Reasonable Student Resolutions

Making New Year’s resolutions is a time-honored tradition. For many of us, breaking those resolutions by the third week of January is also a time-honored tradition! If you’re hoping to use the new year to motivate yourself to improve your study habits but are worried about losing steam, don’t worry! Most resolutions fail not because the person isn’t dedicated enough, but because they’re too big to handle all at once. Instead of committing to a huge change and feeling frustrated, try some of these smaller resolutions that you can feel good about keeping!

Get organized

You don’t have to tear your room apart and redo everything from scratch to feel like you’re better organized. Put your notes in color-coded folders, get a few storage cubes for your stuff, and pick a “cleaning” day each week. On that day, set aside 30 minutes to sift through your desk, get rid of what doesn’t need to be there, and put away what you don’t need at the moment. By doing this on a regular basis, you won’t get overwhelmed and you’ll be able to find what you need when you need it.

Improve your note-taking

A small resolution you can definitely keep is to improve your note-taking skills. Whether in class or during research, notes are important to learning, so take them to the next level! Again, it’s not a complete overhaul, just a few adjustments to make. Start a fresh page for each new day or new chapter, break them up into sections, and, as long as your handwriting isn’t too messy, write them out by hand to help with memory. You can even go back and highlight or annotate them if you want!

Cite sources while researching, not at the end

If you’re in the habit of doing all your writing first and the citations later, you might be surprised how much time and energy it’s costing you to go back and comb through your paper to add in sources. Instead, make the change to do your citations as you go. The easiest way to do it? When you use a quote or paraphrase a source in the body of your paper, immediately follow it with an in-text or parenthetical citation in whatever format you’re using (MLA formatting, APA citation style, Chicago citation style, or something else). Then, if this is the first time you’ve used that source in that paper, hop over to your works cited page and create the source’s entry there.

Take scheduled breaks

Think taking breaks is counterintuitive to tackling your projects and studies? Think again. Research has consistently shown that taking breaks is actually better than trying to study or work for a long period without stopping. But don’t let this be an excuse for distraction or procrastination! Plan out blocks of time with built-in breaks: work for 30 minutes, then rest for 5 or 10. It’s good for your eyes and for your brain!

Get physical

Activity, that is. Fitness goals are pretty common resolutions, but they’re also easy to let slide because of the time commitment. Instead of trying to commit to daily workouts and intense classes at the gym, find something you can do at home. Try online workout videos for 20 minutes a few times a week, or learn some 5-minute stretches to do when you take study breaks. Even blasting music for 10 minutes and dancing your stress away works!

The key with all these resolutions? Find what works for you, and don’t set goals that are too lofty to realistically achieve. Break it down into smaller bites, and you’ll find they have an unexpectedly big impact on your life.


Have a resolution to improve your writing this year? The Citation Machine Plus grammar and plagiarism checker can spot errors and help you polish your paper. There’s also a free grammar guides library where you can learn what is a verb, find a list of adjectives, read about indefinite pronouns, and other grammar-related topics.

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