THE BLOG
08/29/2014 12:37 pm ET Updated Oct 29, 2014

Top 10 Back to School Microresolutions

Shorter days, cooler nights, excitement and dread -- yes, the end of summer is here and it's Back to School for kids (and parents). As at the New Year, the new academic year sparks personal resolutions to perform better by becoming more organized, healthy, and productive. And while you may think that you have to remake yourself to achieve these goals, just a few small behavioral changes can make all the difference. Below is a Small Move, Big Change crib sheet featuring ten microresolutions to boost your performance, health, and outlook in the coming academic year:

  1. Resolve to turn off audio and visual alerts for text and email while studying. Rather than vowing to give up email and texting once you hit the books (that's too hard to be a microresolution) pledge to turn off the message alerts that distract you from study every couple of minutes. Checking your mail/texts every 20 minutes will keep you connected while your work moves forward. [Productivity]
  2. Resolve to prepare for bed right after dinner on school nights. Getting ready early means that you can crash immediately after study time without having get up to wash, change, take out contacts, etc. [Sleep]
  3. Resolve to print out homework as you complete it. Don't wait until the end of the evening (or worse, the morning) to print. There could be a paper jam or low ink, and you might forget to print all the pages that you need. Stay current -- put each assignment to bed as it is completed. [Organization]
  4. Resolve to take a brisk ten-minute walk after the first two hours of study. The physical exertion and change of scenery will refresh your head, and research shows that a short walk boosts creativity for hours. [Productivity, Fitness]
  5. Resolve to pack your backpack with books and materials for the next day as soon as you come home from class. It's easier to pack up early in the afternoon rather than late at night when you're wiped out and more likely to forget something. Slip finished work inside your bag just before bed to complete your prep. Mornings will be a snap (you'll sleep later and better knowing that part of your morning will be grab and go). [Organization, Sleep]
  6. Resolve to enter milestones for long-running assignments into your smart phone calendar as soon as the assignment is made. Lay out a schedule for completion over the period of time you have to complete the project. Attach a digital copy of the assignment to the scheduled due date or type in detailed instructions. Planning milestones and documenting the assignment at the outset is no guarantee that you'll finish on time, but it will keep you from spacing out and scrambling to find details when you are most under pressure (like calling a friend to send you the assignment the night before it's due). [Organization, Productivity]
  7. Resolve to change your study location every hour. New research shows that moving location -- even from the desk to the bed or from the bed to kitchen -- helps keep thinking sharp. [Productivity, Performance]
  8. Resolve not to engage in recreational computer time after 11:00 p.m.. When you finally finish studying it's tempting to go online to surf, connect, and veg, but what starts out as fifteen minutes of unwinding can easily become two hours, and there goes a good night's sleep. If you missed your computer time because you didn't finish your work before the deadline, take comfort in knowing that tomorrow's social and academic life will be better and more enjoyable because you got more rest. [Sleep, Performance]
  9. Resolve to eat breakfast at home. Whether home is dorm, apartment, or familial homestead, you'll eat earlier and better if you breakfast before you leave for school. A nutritious meal consumed early will set your metabolism up for a steady burn all day so that your last class isn't a drag. In contrast, grabbing fast food hours after you rise can lead to an erratic metabolism and unpredictable slumps. [Nutrition, Performance]
  10. Resolve to take dance breaks every 45 minutes. Break up long hours of study getting up, plugging into a favorite tune, and dancing your heart out. You'll be more alert and relaxed for the next period of study, and the uptick in your mood will help carry you across the finish line. Can do! [Fitness, Productivity, Joy]
A microresolution is a commitment to practice a targeted behavioral change until it becomes habit. This takes dedication and concentration, so make your microresolutions just two at a time and keep them for four weeks before adding new ones. If you try to do too many, you'll just short circuit, but if you start with two now and add on in four week intervals, you'll nail all of these (and more) before school is out and score an A+ in personal progress.

Follow Caroline L. Arnold on Twitter, Facebook, and at SmallMoveBigChange.com