Now some people are against new year’s resolutions because you should be able to make a change at any time of the year. I say poo poo to that because we often need a push or a trigger to change our behaviours.

I love making changes on a Monday as a new week feels like a fresh start. Multiply that feeling by 52 (kinda) and you get the fresh feeling of a new year.

So if you’re making some resolutions for the upcoming year, think about including some study resolutions to upgrade your studies.

Look at the 9 possible study resolutions below and see if one or more resonates with you. You’ll find plenty of ideas and further resources to help you make positive change in your studies today.


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Pick Your Study Resolution

Click on any of the 9 resolutions to jump to that section.

1. I will stick to my schedule and not fall behind

2. I will think more positively

3. I will be more consistent with my studying

4. I will not leave studying until the last minute

5. I will learn from feedback and improve my grades

6. I will seek help when I need it

7. I will improve my writing to sound more professional

8. I will beat procrastination

9. I will make time to care for myself

1. I will stick to my schedule and not fall behind

Focus on this study resolution if you’re tired of always catching up with your studies rather than being on schedule.

If you regularly fall behind, perhaps you’re not aware of all your responsibilities. Busy students (those who combine studying with work, volunteering or looking after a family) HAVE to be organised so I suggest tracking all your commitments in one place.

Look for clashes between exams or essay dates and events in your work or personal life. If you’ve got a busy study month in March and you want to plan a weekend away – clear the rest of your schedule so you can have fun AND stay on track.

Try to arrange childcare before an assignment is due or meal prep your dinners at the weekend if you know the next week will be manic.

Make this study resolution today to stay on track with your education. Take control by being aware of all your commitments, then putting plans in place to make them happen.

Check out these posts for more tips on how to prioritise your studies and fit your studying around your job.

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2. I will think more positively

We all have moments where we feel we can’t do something, but if your negative self-talk appears more than your positive then you might need to adopt this study resolution.

Try to recognise when you’re being too hard on yourself and try to transform your words.

Transform your negative thinking into POSSIBLE thinking rather than positive. Your brain knows when it’s being lied to so don’t just flip your negative thought on its head, find its neutral version. If you catch yourself saying ‘I’m a crap student, my essay mark is pants’, your brain won’t be fooled by repeating to yourself, ‘I’m a great student’…’I’m a great student’…

Instead, try saying, ‘I would like to become a better student. I know I can work on my essay writing skills’.

Try giving your inner critic a name. We’ve all heard of ‘Negative Nancy’ but what about, ‘The Perfectionist’, ‘Mr. Pessimism’, or my personal favourite, ‘Buttmunch’.

It’s hard to take your negative self-talk seriously with a silly name and you can easily respond with, ‘not now Buttmunch I’m busy working my ass off’!

For more ways to tackle your negative self-talk – check out this Huffington Post article.

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3. I will be more consistent with my studying

If you’re one of those people who doesn’t study all week then has to pull a late night or a long day to catch up, perhaps you need to adopt this study resolution.

Slow and steady progress is a more certain route to success than rare big leaps.

But summoning the motivation to study most days can seem impossible.

The problem is, you shouldn’t hold off on studying until motivation strikes.

'You can’t get much done in life if you only work on the days you feel good' – Jerry West

A study conducted by Harvard Business School looked at the emotions and work habits of 238 people working in project teams. The study found participants experienced higher motivation on days where they made progress on their tasks. Therefore...if you take the first step, motivation will usually follow.

To improve your consistency, accept studying needs to happen today and find ways to fit it into your daily schedule.

If you use the Pomodoro technique you can get a surprising amount done in only 30 minutes. Could you fit a session in when you wake up, or at your desk before you start work? What about on your lunch break or as soon as you come home before you start dinner? Learning to study in short bursts will prevent you from having to study for hours at a time.

As an extra resource, check out this post for 15 things to do when you don’t feel like studying.

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4. I will not leave studying until the last minute

I got into a bad habit of leaving the bulk of my essay writing to the few days before a deadline. While I did get the work done I sometimes had to ask for extensions and I often felt like I was going to cry or have a heart attack with the stress of it. I did sometimes feel the buzz of working to a deadline but, looking back, this positive never outweighed the negatives outlined below.

Reasons why it’s BAD to leave studying until the last minute

· It's stressful – could lead to burnout or illness if you rely on this working style

· You can’t create your best work as there’s little time to edit and improve

· Unforeseen circumstances could prevent you submitting at all e.g. you get ill or get called away for work

· The task might take more time than you have so you have to submit half finished

· It’s a bad habit for the future as not all tasks have a deadline.

Let me focus on this last one a second. While you’re studying you have essay submission deadlines, tutorials and exam dates. If you don’t meet them there’s very clear consequences. You lose out on marks and could even fail whole modules.

But not everything in life has a deadline. If you can only work when there’s a deadline then lots of important stuff in your life will never get done.

Relying on panic is not a viable working style to achieve long-term success.

You may want to start a business one day or get another job, but these don’t have external deadlines so you might never do them.

I set myself a deadline of publishing a blog post each Thursday. But there’s no one to tell me off if I don’t meet it and no immediate negative effect. So I’ve had to learn to set my own deadlines and change my way of working.

Hopefully you can see the importance of this study resolution so here’s some ways you can make positive changes.

· Know when all of your important submission/exam dates are. Determine the tasks you need to complete and how long they might take you then work backwards in your calendar to pick a date to start – and try to stick to it

· Think about the positives behind submitting an essay a few days early. You can give yourself those extra days to relax or to get a head start on the next block of work

· Try setting yourself fake deadlines. Set a deadline for your essay plan, your first draft and your final submission – a few days early. Give yourself wiggle room in case something pops up.

For more ways to reduce procrastination, check out my full blog post.

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5. I will learn from feedback and improve my grades

This study resolution is important as learning from feedback is one of the key skills you need to develop to improve your grades.

I studied with the Open University where tutors often gave quite detailed feedback. If this isn’t the case for you then there’s nothing stopping you asking your tutor for more comments. Contact them and ask for more points to improve or even schedule a time to go through your assignment quickly. Asking for feedback demonstrates that you are motivated so tutors should be willing to help.

Once you have feedback it is important to do something with it. Simply glancing at the comments without taking action to improve could lead to the same mistakes happening next time which is just throwing away marks.

I started recording my positive and negative feedback for each essay and I would use this sheet to edit my next essay. I noticed my marks increasing as this simple but powerful system made sure I didn’t make the same mistakes again and I continued doing the right things.

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6. I will seek help when I need it

Never be afraid to ask for help. For this study resolution, if you’re struggling and you’ve spent time trying yourself then ask for help.

There’s no point wasting time being stuck.

Ask your tutor to help you understand a concept or answer your questions about the next assignment. If, like me, you are a distance learner – don’t worry. Email your tutor or ask if you can schedule a phone call. I used to look at my assignment question early then email my tutor with my initial questions. Help is there if you ask for it.

Ask your friends and family if they can help out. Either by not tempting you to ditch studying, offering child minding services or taking on your share of the cooking and cleaning during crazy times.

Ask them to let you vent about your study frustrations. Sometimes you just need to rant to someone who cares about your impossible schedule and your lack of sleep. It can make you feel a lot better.

Similarly, ask those you care about to give you a pep talk every now and then. Studying with an already busy life can be exhausting so lean on those who care about you. There were a few months in my studies where I had 7 exams and 12,000 words of assignments (while working full time) and my good friends Hattie and Lucy were priceless. They referred to me as ‘CHLO SMASH’ and told me to channel The Incredible Hulk to get me through. It really helped me stay positive.

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7. I will improve my writing to sound more professional

Do you wish your essays sounded more professional?

Do you ever feel like you waffle a little too much?

Does your writing seem informal and you’re not sure how to sound academic?

Are your points jumbled rather than in a logical flow?

If you answered yes to any of these then maybe this study resolution is for you.

A well-written essay takes the reader on a clear journey. The clearer your arguments the easier it is for your tutor to award you marks.

I’ve written a post with 21 ways to improve your academic writing.

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8. I will beat procrastination

Now this study resolution is a biggie, and probably one we could all work on. Procrastination seems inevitable in our world of constant connectivity and multitasking. But just because something isn’t entirely our fault, does not mean it’s not our responsibility.

There are ways to control procrastination, but you have to WANT to tackle your reasons behind it.

Some people procrastinate because they feel overwhelmed by a big task and don’t know where to start.

Others procrastinate because the task is just crap. It’s boring and is probably going to take ages so watching Netflix or organising your sock drawer is more appealing.

Then there are those who procrastinate out of fear. Who are scared of starting a task in case they let themselves down or realise they’re incapable.

Think about your reasons for procrastinating then check out this post for 15 Ways to Overcome Studying Procrastination.

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9. I will make time to care for myself

Now this study resolution is a hard one. When an essay is due or an exam is coming up it’s inevitable some other parts of your life will droop a little.

Your house may start to resemble a pigsty… your phone might be full of unanswered texts… your diet might consist mainly of toast…your hair may stay in a bun for 4 days….

It’s important to accept this will happen and that it’s ok. Try to be intentional about what elements of your life can be neglected temporarily when studying is crazy. But also work out which elements are non-negotiable.

Sleep should be a priority as your brain will not function at 100% if you’re exhausted. (If you’re having to cut sleep often to catch up check out study resolution no.3 on improving your consistency).

Eating healthy food (at least sometimes) should also play a part so you feel your best.

Most importantly (I think) is finding time for yourself. Just a few minutes doing something you WANT to do rather than HAVE to do can be enough to make you feel like a person rather than an essay writing/note taking machine.

So plan a treat for every time you study – whether it’s an early night, a takeaway, a phone call to a great friend or just a hot shower singing loudly to your favourite music.


How to Actually START Your Essay

Workbook + video training to take you from procrastination and overwhelm to understanding your question and mapping out your ideas with momentum. Easier, faster essay writing (and higher grades) await.

Start Your Essay

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