How to Get Your New Year’s Resolutions Back on Track - Student Edition

 3rd July 2024

Well, it's happened terrifyingly quickly, but did you know yesterday (the second of July) is the year's halfway point? - That makes me dizzy when thinking about it.

It’s not unusual to start the year with some big ideas about how things will go, only to find that by now, you’ve stopped trying to make your New Year’s resolutions work, and they've all faded into obscurity.

We get it – studying is hard, and it can be all-consuming. It’s probably the reason you made these resolutions in the first place.

Don’t worry if you haven’t kept up with any of the plans you made at midnight on January 1st; it’s not too late to get those resolutions back on track. Below are some of the most common New Year’s resolutions for students, with tips on how to steer your plans back on course.


Get More Sleep

Despite students having a reputation for lying in, I’ll bet most students out there aren’t actually getting enough sleep. Finding enough hours in the day can be hard when you have to keep up with lectures, study, socialising, and often a job. Pair late-night studying with early-morning lectures, and you’ll quickly end up in a sleep deficit.

The best way to get more sleep in your life is to create a plan and make time for it. If you have a job outside uni, try to ensure you don’t take on too many hours. Likewise, socialising can also run on into time periods when you could be sleeping. Both of these things are an essential part of university life, but they shouldn’t come at the expense of getting enough rest. 

The simplest way to plan for more sleep is to try to go to bed an hour earlier each night. So, if you usually turn in around midnight, try to arrange your day so you can be in bed for 11. It won’t be possible all the time, especially if you have a job (as you might need to work late or study late if you work straight after uni finishes). You can also try to arrange any essential late nights to coincide with days when you don’t have to get up as early.

Creating a new sleep schedule takes a bit of planning in the early days, but once you get into a routine, your body (and brain) will thank you.

Get Ahead with Your Studying

Getting ahead with studying is probably one of the most common resolutions to fall by the wayside. Everyone tends to have big ideas when the semester starts in September, but and those ideas tend to get a little resurgence around January. All the time in between that, though, it often gets forgotten.

If you’re generally good at keeping up with your workload, it shouldn’t be too much effort get a little ahead. It might mean locking yourself away for a weekend, but it’ll be totally worth it.

Preparing for lectures ahead of time or even starting assignments early will hugely improve your workload. 

It will lighten the pressure and give you some leeway should you fall ill, miss lectures, or even need to work overtime at your job. Getting ahead will reduce stress and make the work feel easier when you get to it.

Getting ahead may be difficult if you’re already behind for any reason. You’ll need to block out some time to catch up, then arrange more time to advance. 

If you’re relatively on track, the best place to start is to check if there’s any set reading you need to do for the coming lectures. If there is, then get on with it. If there isn’t, then go over your notes so far and figure out what information you already have that can be used in your upcoming assignment.

It doesn’t hurt to start working on revision notes and flashcards as you go for early exam prep. That way, you’ll have been building up your revision plan week on week, and it won’t be as stressful as cramming right before an exam.

Get Organised

Chances are, you started off in September with all your ducks in a row. You probably became a little disorganised in the run-up to Christmas, and then your New Year’s resolutions brought you back in line. 

Now that January and September feel like ages ago, you need a little organisational boost. If you prefer to have everything written down in physical form but don’t have a planner, it’s never too late to invest in one. If you have one and it’s gathering dust in your room, it’s time to pick it back up and show it some love. You’ll already have a lecture timetable, and it’s bound to leave some big gaps in your day, alongside some late starts and early finishes. Work out your free time and divide it into realistic blocks for studying, seeing friends, and working (if you have a job). Realistic is the key word here because if you schedule 30 hours a week for studying around lectures, then you’re never going to stick to it.

It also makes sense to plan your time around when you’re feeling you’re best. If you know that by 7 p.m. you’ll be too tired to study, plan to do it in your free hours during the day. If you know you’re working an early morning shift before your lectures, don’t plan any late nights with friends. 

Basically, if you don’t make any outlandish plans, your schedule will be easier to stick to, and being organised will start naturally.

Stress Less

This is a big one that all students should resolve to do. Stressing less won’t come naturally, but managing it will massively improve your general well-being and mental health.

Reducing stress in your life will look different for different people. Many factors contribute to stress, so as you can imagine, many solutions exist for reducing it. If you can start with the resolutions mentioned above—get more sleep, get ahead, and get organised—you’ll be well on your way to lower stress levels.

It’s important to pinpoint exactly what is causing your stress so you can develop a plan to lower it. For example, if the workload is problematic, you might need to change how you do things. Researching efficient ways to study is a great place to start. Once you know what is stressing you the most, it’s worth looking on student forums for tips and advice. You won’t be alone with these pressure points; someone out there might have life-changing guidance.

Eat a Healthy('er) Diet

Eating well can be hard when money is tight, and you’re in a rush. The best way to eat well on a low budget is meal plan. If you live in a shared hour with your friends, you work together to make healthy dishes with several portions. Batch cooking always works out cheaper, but if you only feed yourself and have to buy enough ingredients for four people, you don’t want to eat a shepherd’s pie out of Tupperware for four days straight. If you can’t go in with your housemates on food, cheap batch cooking options might allow you to take leftovers for lunch the next day. At least it’ll save you spending your money on pricey canteen food.

Pinterest is the best place to look for healthy and cheap inspiration. You’ll find tonnes of tasty inspiration, and it’s all free. 

Drink More Water

No one is more in need of hydration than a busy person. The busier you are, the more you’re destined to be thirsty. Grabbing a drink on the go means you’ll probably also pick something that’s not very hydrating (like cola, coffee, or even the dreaded luminescent energy drink), especially if you’re rushing around and could use a caffeine boost.

Instead of buying drinks when you’re out, get into the habit of bringing your own water bottle. These days, cheap 1L bottles are easy to find, so it makes sense to invest in one.

Once you’ve got your bottle of choice, keep it topped up, and don’t go anywhere without it. Take it to lectures, work, and even bed with you so you’ve got something to drink throughout the night and when you wake up.

Get Better at Budgeting

Budgeting as a student is incredibly difficult. Getting a large sum of money three times a year that is supposed to last several months requires a lot of self-control. Some people like to set up a separate current account and transfer their student loan into that account to split the money equally and “pay” themselves at the start of every month. On top of that, you might work, and if you’re very lucky, your parents might send some money your way, too (I was blessed to have my mother drop me off food supplies like cheese, that stuff is so expensive and outside of my budget).

Keeping a spreadsheet of all your finances is a good way to stay organised. This can help you determine what you’ve got to pay (rent, bills, food, etc.) and see what you’ve left as spending money.

As with all types of plans, budgeting needs to be realistic. If you plan to give yourself a pound a week in spending money, it’s unlikely you’ll stick to it. The same will happen if you give yourself a grocery budget that’s too low. Base your budget on what you’ve already been spending and think about ways you could cut back. Creating a rainy-day fund might not be at the top of your list, but it could be helpful if your loan is ever delayed or you don’t have any wages for one week. The last thing you want is to be stuck without food or to get into rent arrears.

Volunteer or Intern

Some degrees don’t provide real-world work experience, and if you don’t have a job alongside your studies, it can be really difficult to get one. If you’re worried about finishing your degree with zero work history, it makes sense to volunteer or apply for an internship.

This might have been the plan, but it can easily fall by the wayside when lectures get underway. Luckily, it’s probably best that you don’t dive in with volunteering until you know your workload; this way, you can avoid taking on too much. If you have a high workload, you should wait until the summer to gain some experience. Many internships are aimed at students studying, so these placements run over the summer. The best place to start when looking for work experience and internships is to speak to someone at your university. They have links with local businesses and can put you in touch with the relevant person at the company.

Other places sometimes advertise internships on their social media accounts. If you’re desperate to gain work experience from a specific business, you could always reach out to them and enquire as to whether it’s something they offer. Send in your CV and an introductory email (written professionally) to ask to be considered.


It’s never too late to get back on track with your New Year’s resolutions. All you need to do is create a plan to make them work - after all, failing to prepare is preparing to fail.

If your resolutions have fallen by the wayside, don’t be disheartened! Knowing your workload, free time, and/or budget could be helpful in the long run, and having this information might make for an easier plan to stick to.

The key to setting goals is to avoid being overly ambitious, and New Year's resolutions will quickly become a good, longlasting habit.

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