The transition from college student to full-time employee takes about 6 months. Here's how to to ditch your college habits to make it a smooth transition.

When I wrapped up my final semester of college, everyone told me everything I’d miss: the opportunities to nap, the flexible schedule, the fun weekends out with friends and the college atmosphere. Between multiple jobs, classes, group projects and friend outings, it seemed like I was always on the go. And while I loved college, I knew it was time for a change.

I spent my last few days saying goodbye to homework, exams, all-nighters, and being broke and looked to the exciting future that was ahead of me in my full-time job in PR. However, it didn’t hit me until I started work an 8-5 that some of my college habits I’d created were toxic, and transitioning to “adulting” would not be as smooth as I thought. I went through a long period of trial and error with trying to figure out a good system for myself.

So how long does it actually take to adjust to the 40-hour schedule? A friend once told me, “It took me three months to not be tired all the time, and another three months for me to realize I could actually have a life outside of work instead of coming home and crashing on the couch all night.”

That’s six months of adjustment. More than anything, in order to change your toxic habits, you have to give yourself this time and have patience with yourself. When you expect easy adaptation to major change, you’re just fooling yourself.

You can try to make your apartment as organized as you possibly can and your routines perfected to a T, but time will show you better ways to do things. There’s no shame in learning as you go, and adapting when you find things more effective than others.

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For example, if you really want to start waking up early to be more productive in the morning, don’t expect it to be easy the first day. Your body needs time. Once you have a goal of the time you want to get out of bed, try waking up 15 minutes earlier each week until you hit that goal.

My number one recommendation for ditching toxic college habits? Figure out what’s important in your life now and prioritize.

You can do anything, but not everything. When I first got done with college, I wanted to keep learning and get involved in everything I possibly could. Instead, it’s better for you and your work-life balance if you pick one to three things you want to tackle.

Here are three things that may be a good idea to put at the top of your priority list:

1. Health. When you’re looking at prioritizing things in your life, consider putting health near the top. I cannot stress how important it is to get into healthy eating and exercising habits in your twenties. Your new 40-hour schedule just can’t function when you skip breakfast, eat junk food, stay up late, and go out all weekend.

2. Money. It can be easy to see the regular cash rolling in and have the instant urge to spend it on your college wishlist. DON’T. Saving, budgeting. and becoming financially savvy are hot topics for twenty-somethings starting a salaried job with a stable income.

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In fact, our GenTwenty community has been sharing some awesome resources of how to stick to a budget. Seek out these resources and find mentors to help you get into better spending and saving habits.

3. Hobbies. You know that thing you’ve always been interested in, but you’ve never had the time or resources to do it? Now’s the time. Get your side-hustle on and replace your college activities with learning your new hobby or beginning your new adventure.

I thought I could carry my old college habits into my long-houred days, but I could not have been more wrong. You can’t anticipate an easy adjustment into the 40-hour schedule, so give yourself time and don’t be discouraged when things are working out the way you had hoped.


Discussion: What did you struggle with most after college?