Anybody who attends our wonderful institute can attest to the various levels of insanity Tech is capable of driving its students to from time to time. I’m far from perfect, and after struggling much more greatly this past fall semester compared to my first year at Tech, I decided that I needed to change a few things. Psychologists have confirmed that switching locations, or making some other big change is the best time to attempt to change your daily habits related to work or hygiene or really anything. So, in order to fix some of the things I didn’t like about how I operate on a daily basis during the school year, I took advantage of this jarring move to Europe to change two simple habits that I hope will make a big difference.

1. Sleep Schedule

Photo couresty of GreenHead Alarm Clocks.

Although this doesn’t really. directly affect work habits, I think that this one is the most important of all of the changes I made. So far, I’ve stuck to the schedule of going to bed between 9:00-10:00 in order to wake up at 7:00 every morning. This is something I don’t think I’ve ever done in my life up until now, but let me tell you, getting 9+ hours of sleep on a weekday is absolutely game changing. I wake up much more refreshed, often before my alarm even goes off, and with plenty of time in the morning to make a real breakfast if I want to (sometimes cereal is just the way to go), take an un-rushed shower, and even spend some time reviewing the textbooks for class. (That last one is often dependent on how long that un-rushed shower ends up taking).

After such a relaxed morning, I find myself almost never feeling drowsy in class, which is a far cry from the freshman me who would nod off in Calculus II almost every time. This leads to better focus, better notes, and an overall better grasp on the concepts taught in my classes. I also get more time to do class work after I get home now that I don’t nap from 3-5 everyday! All in all, it’s worth sacrificing your weekday nightlife in order to get enough sleep to make it through the day. Besides, almost all of us travel 3 out 7 days of the week here at GTL, where we get plenty of time to pursue a social life.

2. Attending Every Class

At GTL, most classes require attendance, so this is a given for a lot of us students here. But typically in college many big lecture classes don’t keep track of who shows up, and some don’t even have things like quizzes to try and enforce attendance. For most of my college life so far, the temptation to be lazy and skip classes has been too great, especially when the professor is not exactly the best at teaching new material. However, I’ve decided to change that here, and the results, I believe, will show in both my academics and my psyche.

I’ve taken classes where, despite what the professor says during syllabus week, it is not really necessary to attend every lecture to succeed in the class. But I think that, as a student, there is more to it than that. When you attend all of your lectures for the week, you just feel good about yourself. I found it easy to slip into the mindset that going to class didn’t matter the more and more I failed to make it. It starts with just missing that one class that doesn’t take attendance and where “I learn better from the book anyway.” But I think all humans are a little OCD and there’s something about breaking your record of perfect attendance that just makes it easy to start missing your 8 AM when you wake up tired in the morning, or missing your 12:00 class because you haven’t eaten lunch yet. However, if you can manage to maintain the idea that you will attend every class and that it’s important, I mean, you’ll probably attend every class (kinda obvious I know). In my experience it’s been either zero or a lot, and this semester I’ve resolved to stick with zero.

If you’re a student reading this, I would welcome you to give these things a try, they’ve really helped me so far this semester. If you’re a parent, good luck making your college-age kids listen to you, even if you do like my advice.  If you’re a faculty member, I’m not sure how much you can get out of this (I hope you’re showing up every to class everyday) but either way thank you for reading, I’ll catch you next week.