Routines Shape Our Lives; Make Yours a Good One
Good routines shape our lives. You start the coffee maker, walk to the mail box, grab the paper, recycle the ads, and get back into the kitchen just as the last drop of coffee drips into your mug. Perfect timing. You sip your coffee and read the news. You do it every day. Your routine is your solid foundation. The success of your coffee routine bodes well for the rest of your day.
The same holds true for new college students—especially those with learning differences. Like you morning coffee drinkers, students crave the dependability of routines. They create structure and reduce our anxieties. Ultimately routines create freedom.
History tells us that the geniuses of our time all had similar daily routines. Here are some of them, as illustrated in “Daily Routines of Geniuses,” Harvard Business Review:
- A work space with minimal distractions
- A daily walk
- A clear dividing line between important work and busywork
- A supportive partner
This is a great list for aging geniuses and new college students. Good routines are those that contribute to a healthy lifestyle and become self-reinforcing with practice.
- A designated workspace that is free from distractions is a great idea for anyone. Cluttered environments can create unrecognized stress adding to the feeling of overwhelm new college students already experience. Clean workspaces do the opposite.
- Regular exercise boosts the size of the hippocampus, that part of the brain involved in verbal memory and learning. It improves mood and sleep. Exercise reduces stress and anxiety. Regular exercise instills the desire for more regular exercise.
- Learning to distinguish between work and busywork helps students achieve balance. It prevents over functioning in any specific area which tends to cause anxiety.
Like aging geniuses, college-bound LD students need supportive partners. Sigmund Freud had his wife Martha who “laid out his clothes, chose his handkerchiefs, and even put toothpaste on his toothbrush…” Gertrude Stein preferred to write outdoors, looking at rocks and cows…Alice B. Toklas would shoo a few cows into the writer’s line of vision…Andy Warhol called friend and collaborator Pat Hackett every morning, recounting the previous day’s activities in detail. (https://hbr.org/2014/03/the-daily-routines-of-geniuses)
Focus Collegiate is that supportive partner for college students who learn differently. By helping students create and stick to a new routine develops organizational capacity. Organizational capacity supports executive function. Routines help build a student’s stress tolerance. When students feel less chaotic, they gain confidence. Routines help support self-management techniques. Students reward themselves for keeping to their routine, which encourages greater adherence to that routine, which supports organizational capacity. The cycle reinforces itself.
Simply put, here’s how we do it:
- Start with Student Goals
- Break them down to achievable, actionable steps
- Create a daily calendar based on these steps
Ultimately these daily activities, based on student-defined goals suggest routines that support their attainment.