Building Good Habits

As experienced tutors, we know that the students who show the greatest improvement on tests are those who have great habits. These habits are not only study habits, though those are crucial. They are also related to sleeping, eating, exercise, staying calm, working efficiently, and many more.

Fortunately, research has discovered a lot about what works to form great habits. This website is here to help you do that.  For last month’s habits & challenges, click here.


Monthly Habits: August

Do something each day that will make life easier and/or more pleasant for your future self. These actions can take many forms; they can be seemingly small and simple acts (e.g. setting up your coffee machine the night before) or they can be part of larger-scale efforts, such as restructuring your workspace or creating a budget that will allow you to save money for a much needed vacation. Keep a record of the various intentional actions you take, either in your journal, in a note on your phone, or in a Google doc. 

Habits are created with a particular cycle, like this:

Cue → Craving → Response → Reward

(For more on that, see here:


The Challenges below are meant to help you grow and learn in a variety of ways. We suggest you take on one each week. Each of them are designed to help you on your way to becoming a stronger learner overall. For last month’s challenges, click here.


Weekly Challenge:

Week 1 challenge: This week’s challenge involves organizing a physical space within your home. Choose one room to focus on (or one area within a room, such as a closet). Starting small is always a good idea, as this work can feel overwhelming, especially if your goal is to organize your entire house. 

This website provides a helpful 5-step process for organizing any space:
Read through this article and try your best to follow the five steps.
Week 2 challenge: As you start each day this week, take a moment to sit down with your journal (or another method of recording). Are there certain things you need to accomplish today? Plans, obligations, duties? Do you have ample free time? Make a loose day-plan for yourself each morning, thinking about the day in terms of hour- or two hour-long blocks. This is NOT a To-Do list, as it should incorporate leisure time and other parts of your vision for the day.


Monday, July 27th 2020 

  • 9-10am: Morning coffee, day planning, and breakfast
  • 10am-12pm: Work time — answering and writing emails, lesson planning, etc. 
  • 12-1pm: Exercise — stretching, yoga, and cardio
  • 1-2pm: Lunch
  • 2-5pm: Go to the pool 
  • 5-7pm: Shower, chill
  • 7-8pm: Dinner
  • 8pm: Meditate
  • 8:30pm – ?: Unstructured chill time, unwind

    You may want to list out a rough timetable and accompanying actions (as seen above), draw out your day physically (be creative!), or use a digital/online tool like Google Calendar to make your day-plan. The goal here is not to plan your day out minute-by-minute but rather to think intentionally as you start your day about what you’d like it to look like. Try your best to stick to your plan, keeping in mind that things may shift and change. At the end of the week, reflect on this overall experience: did it serve you? Was it challenging? Rewarding? Helpful?

Week 3 challenge: Each morning, make a list of three things you are going to accomplish that day. Be realistic about your time and energy; celebrate your daily successes — record them in your journal (or in a note on your phone, etc.) and treat yourself in some way! If you aren’t able to accomplish your goals, that’s okay. Reflect on why, and take this into account when you’re planning your goals for the next day.
Week 4 challenge: Create a goal for this week that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely (SMART). Fill out the SMART Goal Worksheet. Reflect on your experience (and your progress) in your journal at the end of the week. 

A note about goal-setting: Many people have a goal of wanting to eat healthier. This is an excellent big-picture objective, but it is NOT a SMART goal. If you want to focus on healthier eating overall in your life, a SMART goal for you to focus on during this week might be to cook yourself one nutritious meal you’ve never made before. This smaller-scale goal could involve the following activities (among others!): research healthy eating (find credible sources), identify a new recipe you’d like to try, read reviews of the recipe, prepare a list of what you need.