Do you struggle with deadlines? If so, you’re not alone. Many of us are guilty of procrastinating, but that doesn’t mean it’s good. When we procrastinate, we leave everything until the last minute and end up only doing the bare minimum (if we’re lucky).

If you can set goals instead and actually get them done, you’ll be in a much better position to get good grades and keep stress to a minimum.

Follow these helpful goal-setting strategies for the new school year and this one may be your best year yet.

Set attainable goals

It’s great to reach for the stars, but if you set your sights too high, you may end up frustrated. Try to set a goal based around something you’ve struggled with, but keep it attainable and tangible.

For example, if you tend to put off studying, make a goal to study for an hour each night. You shouldn’t have to struggle too hard to reach this one, and if you can do it, you’ll get better grades.

Focus on things you can control

Most students make the mistake of setting a grade-based goal. And while it’s good to strive for an A in every class, your grade is beyond your own control. Try to set goals around stuff you can easily control, like how much time you spend studying, how many extracurriculars you take on or how often you communicate with your professors. If you can control things that affect your grade, you may get that A after all.

Write your goals down

The best way to achieve your goals is to hold yourself accountable. One way to accomplish this is to write your goals down and keep them where you can see them. Maybe create a board of goals for the year and hang it on the wall in your bedroom or put a list up on the fridge. If you aren’t meeting your goals, you’ll be reminded to get back on track every time you see your list.

Create alerts for important deadlines

When it comes to coursework, your goals are almost always tied to important dates. There will be the dates you need to turn in your work, test dates, study dates, and homework dates. You may feel like you’re filling your calendar with an endless to-do list, but these reminders will help you stay on track. For example, if you look at your syllabus and find out you have a test on August 25th, you may want to set aside some study time in the preceding days or weeks. As you approach the test, you’ll get reminders to help you set aside study time. This way, there won’t be any surprises.

Create a study group

Many people find it helpful to study and work with a group. Others find it better to work on their own. But either way, a group can help you stay accountable to your goals. You can find out how other people are using their time and maybe get some helpful tips. You don’t have to meet with the group for study sessions often, but it does help to have a good support network.

Avoid bad habits

College is closely associated with drinking and partying, but these activities are most likely to detract from your goals. Imagine you have a busy day of studying and paper-writing planned, but you can’t function because of a hangover. College drinking habits tend to include things like binge drinking and booze-fueled frat parties. If this becomes a way of life, these habits will cloud your thinking and dull your memory. Any goals you’ve set will quickly go out the window when you’re partying too hard.

College is a time for fun, but there’s also a lot of pressure to get good grades and manage your workload. If you have a job on top of school, the pressure is even more intense. But if you keep your goals in mind and avoid bad habits like drinking too much, you’ll find it to be a smoother ride. Stress can be intense, but drugs and alcohol will only make things worse. Stick to your goals and remember why you’re in school.

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