Four ways to achieve your goals in the new academic year


Whether you are a new student, about to embark upon your first year at University, or you are in your final year – now is the perfect time to start thinking about what you want to achieve over the next 12 months. It’s not just January 1st that gets all the fun! There’s loads of evidence out there that people who are most productive follow some simple ‘habits’ – one of which is making effective plans and setting goals.

Basically, planning, goal setting and organisation are essential for most university students – not just for a new year (be that calendar, academic or lunar!) but every day, week and month. It should be an ongoing process, not something that you just do once then forget about.

Here are a few tips and resources for you to develop some new productive habits – which will hopefully help you achieve what you want this coming year.

Creating new habits

It takes 28 days of doing something every day for it to become a habit. Whether that be exercise, stopping smoking, or learning to play the guitar. There are loads of apps and web tools out there that can help you set and achieve your targets. The main thing that they do is remind you to spend a certain amount of time each day on tasks that you set. Why not set a target of 30 minutes of reading around your subject area each day? Soon you won’t even need to be reminded to pick up that text book – it will have become a habit!

Using your time more effectively

Ever turned on your laptop to do some work, and ended up in a Pinterest black hole, YouTube vacuum or never-ending Tumblr scroll? There are loads of apps and programmes that you can install on your PC that can monitor how you use your time so that you can see where the sucks on your productivity are.

Alternatively, there are also apps that can block certain websites – so if you constantly find yourself on social media sites or gaming sites when you should be working, they will not let you access the ‘banned’ sites for a certain period – giving you some time to really focus on that assignment!

Be more efficient

Have a big project to work on? Don’t leave it all to the last minute – plan ahead and create ‘laser focused pockets of time’ each day to focus on the project. Similar to the habit-forming idea above, if you spend even 20 minutes a day on your project, you can get it done in bite-sized chunks, meaning that you won’t get that fuzzy un-focused blur after concentrating on it for 3 days straight the week before the deadline.

How do you eat an elephant? One bit at a time!

Set small achievable goals

Create a to-do list system and use it! There are so, so many different approaches to this one – whether it be online or paper-based – so try one or two out and see how you get on. Some good places to start are Getting Things Done, Bullet Journal, Trello, and Evernote but more are available.

Some ideas for lists are short-term and long-term things that need to be done, things you’d like to do (films you want to watch, books you want to read etc), and things you don’t want to forget. Some of the online systems will sync with your phone so you can access your lists everywhere.

How are you going to get organised this year?