Habits Worth Forming

By Jessica Alcala

Person holding clockLesson Plan Guide

Habits are a huge part of our everyday lives. Not only do they affect our thinking, our actions, and our responses, but also many of the decisions we make. The way we choose to live our lives is largely dictated by our habits.

According to Wikipedia, habits are “automatic routines of behavior that are repeated regularly, without thinking. They are learned, not instinctive, human behaviors that occur automatically, without the explicit contemporaneous intention of the person.”

Autopilot saves time, attention
Habits can allow us to perform multiple tasks at the same time by making learned ones automatic.

For students, multitasking is very beneficial for studying and homework. For example, while studying you are able to read and write at the same time; or, while getting ready for school, you can also practice class presentations or run through important concepts for exams. For high school students who are learning how to balance work, school, sports, and their social lives, good habits are the key to keeping attention focused and academic goals on track.

“It is important for high school students to develop ‘good’ study habits so that they are able to use their time well, stay organized, and absorb information that they can apply in the next stage of their academic career—whether it be high school, college, or graduate school,” said Lindsay Cohen, a high school teacher from New Jersey.

The examples in the sidebar are only a few of many good study habits students can implement; there are many more students can try. It is important that students identify what works best for them now so that their academic trek to and through college will become much easier.

What are your daily difficulties?
The first step in the right direction for students includes identifying what’s giving them the most trouble in their day-in, day-out studies. Common challenges include the following:

  • Trouble retaining the information read in textbooks
  • Little understanding of how to quickly and efficiently take notes in class
  • Inability to align learning style with teachers’ methods

Such challenges can be counteracted by finding good study habits and putting them in place early. Good study habits simplify our lives by putting these routine actions on autopilot. We don’t need to think about performing desired tasks once they are built. Good study habits make daily life more manageable, as they can give you more time to do the things you love while staying on top of your academics. They will not work for you, however, until you do a little work building them and making them permanent.

Lea Dulatas, class Valedictorian from St. Mary’s High School in South Amboy, N.J., offers her top picks from the Child Development Institute’s list of good study habits.

1) Designate specific areas for homework to reduce distractions. “You want to study somewhere that you feel comfortable, where your body is at ease and in the best place to allow for full concentration in order to absorb information,” Dulatas said. Her favorites? “At the kitchen table, my desk, or sometimes my favorite chair in the living room.”

2) Set aside a few hours a day specifically for studying. “Because our body forms habits very fast and wants to repeat the same procedure... if you train your body to eat breakfast in the morning, study in the afternoon, and sleep by a certain time each night, it will eventually learn to follow this schedule.”

3) Make a list of what you intend to study and prioritize it. “By seeing your goals written down in a ‘to-do’ list format, you are more likely to make sure you check off each ... of your tasks. Once all tasks have been completed, you’ll feel great about yourself and the studying you have accomplished for the day,” Dulatas said.


About the Author

Jessica Alcala