If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times: college can get crazy! Homework and projects can sneak up on you out of nowhere–all at the same time. One thing that I have found to be really necessary is to build good habits.

The thing about habits is that you have to develop them. You can’t just will them into being but that’s where it starts. You have to think to yourself: in what areas of my life would I like to improve? What do I want to come naturally to me? Sometimes this may be spreading out assignments (rather than procrastinating) or reading a little bit each day. Sometimes this may be developing better sleep habits. And still sometimes, this may be putting your clothes away as soon as possible, instead of tossing them on the floor.

Developing habits that can really help carry you through college–and life beyond it–is a process. It takes intention and time. But the best thing you can do is start. Start being intentional about whatever it is you want to achieve.

This semester, I want to space out my assignments more. I want to carve out a little time each week to work on things well before they are due. In past semesters, I have saved assignments until the last moment too many times and it is so draining. Until the assignment was finished, I was living from one cup of coffee to the next, scrambling to turn things in by the 11:59 p.m. deadline. I realized that so much stress could’ve been saved and so much sleep could’ve been had if I had just managed my time better. So I started to plan my schedule before the semester started. I blocked off time in my planner for my classes, meetings, and work. Then from the time that I had left in my week, I blocked off times to just sit down and do homework and read. Turning this into a habit has been a process, but the more that I do it, the more it feels normal to me. I know that this will save me so much time and energy in the long run.

Trying to enact habits in your life seems like such a tedious task, but the best thing you can do–if you really want to–is just start. Don’t put it off until later when it’s crunch time. Let this be a word of encouragement, no matter how daunting your goals may seem: you can do it! One day at a time.