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Improving EF with Tiny Habits

Popularized by books like Atomic Habits by James Clear and Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg, seemingly small habits have become all the rage in the personal productivity space. As always, the skills reverberating through productivity seminars and office time management policies often apply to students as well. In short, the idea of tiny habits is to create consistent progress, or 1% improvement, that compounds to produce some truly astonishing results. Small habits like making your bed, writing a prioritized homework to-do list when you sit down to work, or drinking a glass of water every time you set foot in the kitchen can help make massive improvements in you or your child’s life. Tiny habits like these can smooth the implementation process of the critical executive functioning skills we teach students every day. The key is to have a cue, routine, and reward for each habit. So, what are some tiny habits that students of all ages can implement?


  • When you sit down for class, file papers from the previous class in your binder and take out your completed homework.
  • When you finish homework for the day, file papers in your binder and reset your workplace.
  • When you finish dinner on Sunday night, reset your binder and backpack for the week ahead.

            Time Management

  • When you sit down to do homework, quickly write down a prioritized list of tasks that need to be completed.
  • When you finish a task, cross it off from your planner.
  • When you start a reading assignment, set a goal of what page you want to hit, divide it into two or three chunks, and set a timer for the first chunk of content.

The possibilities are endless. Small habits like these save minutes every day, hours every week, and days every year. That means more free time for students, more fun with family and friends, and a higher level of satisfaction at the end of the day. It also means less conflict with parents and teachers. So, why do tiny habits work so well?

Small wins are crucial for habit formation and developing a growth mindset. As James Clear says, “We don’t rise to the level of our goals. We fall to the level of our systems.” Habits are systems that ensure success. By reducing the amount of willpower needed to make a decision, we can build success momentum. These small wins help students dominate the classroom and their studying. The tiny habits compound to help achieve our long-term goals while ensuring steady, visible progress each day.

At the end of the day, our goal is to help students succeed. Tiny habits are one of the most effective ways to increase vital executive functioning skills. If you think your student can benefit from an executive functioning skills coach, please head over to our services page to complete the coach pre-qualification form.

Evan Weinberger


Staying Ahead of the Game offers unique academic coaching & tutoring services to help good students achieve greatness.

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