Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Opinion | Keeping a schedule makes college life easier

CW / Shelby West

Back in the 1700s, there was a strange man who used to plan his day out to the minute. His name was Benjamin Franklin.

Franklin would follow his schedule to a tee, blocking out time for work, meals, sleep and even leisure. His emphasis on keeping a stringent routine has even been immortalized in one of his most famous quotes: “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”

Now, Franklin’s daily schedule may have blurred the line between organization and psychosis, but there is actual science which suggests that keeping some form of routine can reward you with significant benefits in your everyday life. 

As we transition back into the school year, we must keep routine in mind if we want to keep up our grades. Not to mention everything else the average UA student has going on.

Even with jobs, internships and various other commitments taking place, there may be no easier time for us students to fall out of behavioral patterns than over the course of summer break. Summer can mean everything from irregular sleep schedules to sporadic travel to meandering hours of honest-to-goodness boredom — and it’s the best.

However, it lies in stark relief against the regimen and responsibility of fall semester. 

Settling into a routine may be the best way to manage the transition back to academic life without setting yourself up for a fall of late nights, last-minute assignments, and all-around anxiety. All the better if you can begin to ease into that routine before returning to the Capstone. 

So here’s the science.

When you create and follow a daily regimen, you in turn create a domino effect of health benefits for yourself. It becomes much easier to eat better and stay fit when you have set aside dedicated times for grocery shopping and exercise. 

It can be easy to find yourself lost in a sea of other responsibilities that distract from these basic healthy behaviors over the course of a semester. However, keeping a routine can provide you with guide rails to ensure you continue to prioritize your physical health.

Routine becomes even more powerful when considering one’s mental well-being. According to Northwestern Medicine, having a consistent schedule has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety while simultaneously providing you with more opportunities for relaxation. Maintaining a consistent routine allows you to tackle your responsibilities head-on and can provide more enjoyable downtime that won’t make you feel like you are procrastinating.

Perhaps the most integral part of routine — and one which evades many college students, including myself — is forming a regular sleep schedule. Having consistent bedtime habits has been found to improve “mental sharpness, emotional well-being and energy” — all of which are indispensable when facing the rigors of academia. Establishing a routine for your waking hours will translate into more regular sleeping patterns, creating a positive feedback loop of health benefits.

No matter what our ultimate ambitions are, we all share a common thread as students at The University of Alabama: we are all working to garner the skills and tools necessary for succeeding and achieving our future goals. The importance of having a strong, healthy foundation cannot be overstated when it comes to this endeavor, and routine is the perfect place to start building that foundation.

There are few examples of someone who was able to realize their ambition as impressively as Benjamin Franklin. Of course, like any of America’s Founding Fathers, he was not a perfect man. However, flaws aside, Franklin was successful in achieving nearly everything he set his mind to — and he set his mind to a lot.

He crafted a lofty legacy for himself in journalism, politics, philosophy and science, even establishing long-lasting institutions like fire departments and libraries. Franklin’s life was one marked by accomplishment. It does not appear coincidental that Franklin’s life was also marked by strict routine.

But to be truthful, I care far more about the future Benjamin Franklins than Franklin himself. Our generation is on the cusp of inheriting the reins of the great American experiment, and we should strive to be great ourselves. We should all wish to succeed and to fulfill our academic, personal and professional potential. We can start with routine.

Gradually transition into a more consistent sleep schedule. Set goals for yourself that will prioritize both your mental and physical health. Add these practices to your calendar so that you have a template you can follow on a daily basis. 

Creating and adhering to a routine can feel like a hefty task, but the science does not lie. If you are able to find a routine that works for you, then you will be empowered to live a happier, healthier and more successful life. I will certainly be trying to find a routine this semester, and I encourage you to do the same.

Your grades, and your future, will thank you later.

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