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How To Thrive Without Total Structure


I’m a sucker for structure. I like schedules, I like rules- if there aren’t any in place already, I make my own. For people like me (who have far too short of an attention span to be trusted to get things done without a plan in place), going from high school to college was a rough transition at first. Such a shocking shift comes from being told what/where/when every day to suddenly being completely in control of what you do with all of your time. If this sounds like you, and you still haven’t figured out what to do about it, fear not. Even without a solid structure in place FOR you, set by someone else or just purely by chance, there are ways to create it for yourself.


  1. Exercise at the same time every day.

A year ago, I had a go-to time for this- 5 pm, every day, without fail. When I arrived here in August and the hustle and bustle of classes began, I decided that I could trust myself to lose my strict 5 pm rule and just go during whatever time period was the most open each day. I can’t state enough how wrong I was to think I could follow through with this. Unless you’re someone who genuinely ENJOYS exercise (props to you if this is the case), there will ALWAYS be some reason why right now can’t be the time to go exercise and later would be better. It’s better to not give yourself a choice- find a time that works no matter what day it is, and stick to it.


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  1. Decide what those gaps in-between classes are for.

Not having back-to-back classes is definitely an adjustment I had to get used to. It’s a great idea to assign yourself things to do during those breaks ahead of time- maybe *this* gap of time will be used for studying for your next exam, and the next one will be used for cranking out that essay you’ve been putting off. Don’t wait until you sit down in the library and reluctantly pull out your laptop to decide what you’re going to type into the search bar. Take it from me- if you do, all you’ll end up doing is pulling up Netflix.


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  1. Be definite about when to work, and when not to.

Just like there should be time to be productive, there should be time during your day set aside to do the things you normally would do while procrastinating. Use part of your free time to work hard, and then perhaps use the hour after that binge-watching your favorite show. If you still get time every day to do the things you wish you were doing while you’re in class, it will make you less resentful about the time you DO have to spend working- and it will stop you from taking the time you have before your deadlines for granted, because there will be less of it.


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  1. Regularly set future goals.

They can range anywhere from making a finals study guide for one of your classes to looking up summer internships. This is not, of course, to say that you should have everything figured out at every moment. Planning ahead just stops you from feeling stagnant when your to-do list seems completely checked off or you don’t have an exact plan in place. It will also make you more excited for what’s to come, which is part of the point of being in college anyway, isn’t it?



  1. Have someone hold you accountable.

There are so many ways to motivate yourself, but at the end of the day, sometimes an extra push from someone who cares about our success is all we need. Don’t keep your plans and goals to yourself- share them with someone who you trust to remind you to keep the promises you’re making. Not only will this give you the valuable asset of a verbal reminder every once in a while (which can sometimes be more helpful than the voice in the back of our brains), but it will score you some extra encouragement right in the moments you need it most. 

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Lucie (originally from Tulsa, OK) is a fourth-year journalism major at KU. Her favorite things include (but are not limited to) coffee, new music, life in LFK, and every dog in existence (they are all good dogs). While being involved in a handful of student organizations on campus, HerCampus was her first step into campus involvement and she absolutely loves everything it has to offer. She is ecstatic to be HerCampus KU's content copyeditor. 
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