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: July

Keep a journal for one month. This can be a physical notebook or a document on your computer. Write (or draw) at least one page per day. Use the four weekly challenges for inspiration, or do your own thing!

Habits are created with a particular cycle, like this:

Cue → Craving → Response → Reward

(For more on that, see here:


For the Journal Keeping Habit, it might work like this:

Cue: Maybe right after breakfast, or after dinner, or before you go to sleep. (Choose something you do every single day at about the same time.)
Craving: I want to feel accomplished, or smart, or knowledgable, or become a better writer.
Response: I successfully completed my daily entry.
Reward: You satisfy a craving to feel accomplished.  Eating breakfast becomes associated with your journal entry each day.


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: Free write every day at the same time for five minutes. Set a timer and don’t stop writing. Don’t filter yourself–write down whatever comes into your mind. This works well in the morning right after you wake up!
Week 2 challenge: Pick one of the following prompts each day and reflect on it in your journal:
  • What are three qualities I appreciate about myself?

  • What are three things I spend the most time doing each day?

  • Some areas of my life that I’d like to improve are…

  • What values are important to me? 

  • What do I procrastinate with the most?

  • What are my biggest fears and how do they hold me back?

  • Some of my biggest victories and successes have been…

  • How can I better take care of myself?

  • What’s one thing I look forward to every day?

  • I feel fulfilled and truly alive when…
Week 3 challenge: Make a list of current habits that you consider healthy–these should be things you want to keep doing/do more of in your life. Identify one positive habit from your list that you’d like to cultivate and practice over the next week (e.g. yoga, reading, hiking). Track your use of that habit every day (and/or reflect about how this habit is currently serving you and how you envision practicing it in the future). Start small! 


Week 4 challenge: Find inspiration in the world around you–write down a quote in your journal every day. These can be drawn from books, people in your life, poems, song lyrics, articles, or anywhere else. They do not need to be “inspirational” per se; they just have to mean something to you. The important thing is to be open to the words of others and to record them for yourself. You can also reflect on each quote. Why did you choose it? What does it mean to you?