Let’s look at how building strong routines can help the average person. Think about something as simple as exercising regularly. For someone who enjoys exercising every day, going for a run or getting to yoga class is pretty easy. But to the exercise-allergic person, the habit of working out daily can seem as impossible as scaling Everest. The amount of effort it takes to get to the gym is tremendous, and the idea of facing that challenge daily is enough to send someone straight back to the couch.
Fortunately, our routines are like muscles, which means they can be strengthened over time with consistent practice. So even the exercise-allergic among us can learn to move their bodies on a regular basis, to the point where it feels natural. We can learn behaviors that help us live better lives. That’s the biggest gift routines offer us.
Strong Routines Make Strong Students
Why are routines so beneficial to high school students? For starters, school itself is based on routines. School is, essentially, a series of similar tasks that repeat on a daily, weekly, monthly, semester-long, and yearly basis.
To understand this idea, consider any one of your current courses. It’s probably some variation on the pattern of lecture => homework => quizzes => exams, which is repeated over and over again throughout the entire semester. If you can develop personal routines that complement this pattern, you’ll save both time and energy.
On average, students can develop routines to strengthen 85-90% of the skills required in high school, including:
- Organizing class materials
- Planning work in advance
- Breaking down large projects into smaller tasks
- Writing papers
- Using time wisely
- Using a calendar effectively
- Sleeping and waking at consistent times
- Managing relationships to technology and the internet (smartphones, video games, social media, etc.)
Let’s look at an area where many students struggle: organization.
Student A is never able to keep track of what work needs to be completed when. This student has a planner but rarely uses it, scribbles assignments on random pieces of paper that promptly get lost, and wastes a lot of time each day figuring out which assignments have which due dates. This can affect their grades on homework as well as testing performance. Student A’s big problem is that they don’t have a routine around capturing assignments.
Contrast that with Student B, who dutifully takes out their planner at the beginning of every class, writes down assignments in clear language, and reviews the planner every day at home. Student B has a clear system for tracking homework and assignments, and more importantly, has a routine around using that system effectively. This saves tremendous effort and energy on a daily basis.
Building a Routine From Scratch
If you’re someone who feels like they just aren’t good at developing routines and building habits, let us remind you that you already have plenty of routines in your life! Anything you do on a regular basis is part of a routine, whether it’s brushing your teeth before bed, starting your day with a cup of coffee, or taking the same route to school each day. By becoming aware of areas where you lack routine, you can make the conscious choice to establish and implement new habits that will give you more free time and reduce your stress.
Students who want to create new routines can go through the following process:
- Identify one new routine to establish. It’s easy to get overzealous and try to change everything all at once. Making one change at a time is much more likely to last, and you may find that by changing one routine, other pieces start to fall into place.
- Set clear parameters for the routine. Instead of “I want to be more organized,” choose something actionable such as “I will review my weekly calendar every night at 9pm.”
- Keep going even when it’s difficult. It’s said that implementing a new habit or routine is most challenging in the first 21 days. Recognize that there may be setbacks, but rather than calling it quits, stay determined and resume the routine as soon as possible.
At Signet, we are fully aware that science has shown the teenage brain is not known for its ability to be consistent and habitual. This isn’t meant to discourage you, but it does mean that developing strong habits is, to some extent, fighting biology, which is why it can be so challenging. You may not be able to rewire every habit, and it won’t happen overnight, but the process of learning to create and stick with routines will provide you with lifelong benefits.
Creating and executing a routine does require some additional effort, but that little bit of intentional effort now can save a ton of time and energy down the line.