For Freshmen. By Freshmen.
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Dec 04 2016
by Jessica Vuong

8 Bad Habits to Break to Be A Happier You

By Jessica Vuong - Dec 04 2016

As college students, we are expected to be social, do well in school, figure out what we want to do with the rest of our lives, exercise, get enough sleep and maintain a social life. It's no mystery that college students struggle with being productive, healthy and stress free. Often times, we neglect to reflect back on why we feel this way and instead tend to just put up with it. This may be hard for some of us to admit, but we fail to realize that our bad habits contribute to our stress and anxiety. Now that I've planted the issue in your head, here are several bad habits you can break in order to be happier and more productive.

1. Always Saying "Yes"

Yes... college is a time for you to try new things, go out with friends and have fun, but it is important to know your limitations. It's okay to say no to an event or activity if you know you have more important things on your plate to deal with. Taking on too many activities can lead to stress, anxiety and burnout. When given new opportunities, check your priorities and strategically choose which requests to agree to. At the end of the day, you're the one in charge of your education and your life so attend to your priorities first. 

2. Hitting the Snooze Button

This is something almost everyone is guilty of. Studies show that when you press the snooze button and go back to sleep, your brain is actually resetting your sleep cycle so that when you wake up from your second (or maybe third or fourth) alarm, you are actually groggier and more tired than you would have been if you had woken up from the initial alarm. Try placing your alarm clock across the room to force yourself to get up and turn it off. Once you're out of bed, it will be easier to just get going.

3. Doing Busy Work

Busy work is an activity that you carry out in order to kill time and avoid appearing idle. In reality, busy work has no real value. Checking emails, cleaning your desk, organizing your files and updating your phone all constitute as busy work, and you know it. Most of the time, students engage in busy work to trick themselves into thinking they are being productive while that one daunting task due tomorrow is left abandoned in a dark corner. Break this habit by tackling your heavy duty tasks head on, preferably in the morning because that is when your mind is refreshed and awake.

4. Being a Perfectionist

While being a perfectionist can be seen as a positive trait, it has its downsides. Perfectionists have a mindset that their work must be perfect or else it must be discarded. This type of thinking hinders the creative process of brainstorming, constructing and editing, because perfectionists tend to abandon projects that end up lesser than their projected expectations. A large part of productivity is modifying your work to improve it. If your work doesn't turn out the way you wanted it to, don't toss it; give it another chance by figuring out what you can do to improve it. Allow time for your thoughts and ideas to process and grow.

5. Leaving Small Tasks Undone

The "touch it once" rule is the key to productivity and time management. Many people realize that they have a task to complete, but put it in the back of their head, which requires them to remember to do it later. When you finally remember to do the task, you are wasting time reassessing and reprocessing exactly what is it that you had to do. Not to mention, you had to remember to remember the tasks. If you keep putting little tasks in the back of your mind throughout the day, then at the end of the day you will have a bucket full of unfinished things to do. If your task takes less than five to ten minutes and is easy to handle, then follow the "touch it once" rule by dealing with it then and there, so you can forget about it and carry on with your day. 

6. Not Having A Routine

Our brains like routines. That's why we have habits, both good and bad. When we repeatedly do a specific activity at a certain time or in a certain situation, we are developing a habit. Use this to your advantage by creating good habits, rather than bad ones. Start a morning ritual, which can include simple things such as drinking a glass of water, lightly exercising or eating a healthy breakfast. Having a schedule, such as a cleaning or studying schedule, can help you save time later on by splitting up your work over time instead of leaving all your work near the deadline. Having a routine provides structure in your every day life while allowing you to build healthy, productive habits.

7. Multitasking 

Multitasking gives off the illusion that you are completing more tasks at once, when it reality, it is making you slower. Multitasking requires your brain to section off parts of it to different activities, forcing you to attempt to focus on everything at once. The result of this is that you end up working slower, making unnecessary mistakes or having information overload. Multitasking also requires your brain to refocus and reassess the situation each time you switch from one task to another, making you lose overall focus. Try handling one task at a time so that when you finish one, you can cross it off your to-do list and transfer all your mental energy on to the next task.

8. Being Too Hard on Yourself

Finally, don't forget to give yourself the credit that you deserve. If something doesn't go as planned, don't put all the blame on yourself, try to understand the situation and accept the outcome. It's natural to feel negative emotions, so take your time to process through the situation. Then, accept what cannot be changed. In the end, you learned a lesson and you can grow from it.  

While these bad habits seem like small, insignificant parts of your day, bad habits can add up. Replace your bad habits with good habits and see a positive change in your productivity, stress levels and happiness. 

Lead Image Credit: Sylwia Bartyzel via Unsplash

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Jessica Vuong - University of California, Davis

Jessica is currently attending UC Davis and majoring in Managerial Economics. She was vice-president of teensReach, a community service organization, and has competed in several SJPL art & design contests. She loves coffee, sarcasm, and rainy weather. Follow her on instagram: @jsscvng | pinterest: jessvjess | VSCO: jessvjess

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