Going into college, I thought I’d have everything pulled together. That I’d wake-up early, go to class, do my homework at the library, go to organization meetings, and then work on my blog or hang out with friends after. Definitely not the case. At least for me. I now know the very latest I can get up and still have time to brush my teeth and hair, put on deodorant and clothes, and run out the door to catch my bus. When I get back from class it’s the battle between doing homework or turning on Netflix and I’m sure you can guess which one wins. Once I realized the bad habits I was falling into I knew I had to do something about it. So I quickly implemented some new tips and these are what worked best for me.
Develop a routine.
This is the best way that I’ve been able to be more productive. Knowing that I have a routine in place and following it is the best way for me to get anything done. From my morning routine when my feet hit the ground to my night routine when I fall into bed, I know what I need to be doing at different times of the day to get things done and get them done effectively.
Take productive breaks.
A little later in this post I will talk about identifying your time wasters, but this is the opposite of that. Identify things that allow you to take a break from things such as school or work, that help you work towards goals, and are also things that you can do for an hour or two and then still have the ability to go back to school or working. My productive breaks are working out, blogging, taking pictures for the blog, writing in my journal, cleaning my apartment, and meeting up with friends. If I were to let myself watch Netflix, YouTube, or TV I wouldn’t get much done for the rest of the day because then I would just feel lazy. Not saying that you are lazy if you do this, but I definitely don’t have the self-control to drag myself away from that.
We all have those tasks that we dread doing. Whether it’s your math homework, doing your accounting reading, or taking notes on the book you have to write a paper on, set a timer and dive in. I always joke that I can conquer the world in 20 minutes. Do I end up spending more than 20 minutes doing those tasks? Absolutely. But mentally setting the timer made me think, “I can get started on this, I can handle 20 minutes of this.” And from there I realize that what I thought was daunting isn’t as bad I made it up to be.
Make a to-do list.
I was talking to someone in my marketing class the other day who spotted my to-do list peeking out of my planner and said they didn’t understand how I did it using a to-do list. Honestly I don’t understand how they do it without one. My to-do list runs how I spend my day and get (most) everything done. I write out what homework I need to do, what I need to read, what I need to study, what I need to do for the blog that day, what I’m doing at the gym, and if I’m working or have organization meetings. And the best feeling ever is crossing things off as they are completed. Seriously. It’s the best.
Clear to neutral.
I hadn’t heard about this concept until my freshman year of college and now I live by it. Basically, after you are done doing your work, pick up all of your stuff and clear the space to neutral. You shouldn’t be able to tell that you had done any work there in the first place. This is how I keep my apartment so neat, clean, and tidy all the time. After I’m done in any space, I take the time to get it looking tidy again and it never takes more than a couple of minutes. Just taking those few minutes pays off so much in the long run.
Have a top three list.
I mentioned above how I think it’s important to make a to-do list, but let’s make that to-do list a little more defined. Take the time to star 3 things that you absolutely have to get done that day and get those done first. Whether it’s diving into the paper you have yet to start, picking up your apartment, or getting a blog post written and published, star it and get it done.
Change your mindset.
This tip was a game changer for me. I always seem to let my anxiety about how difficult it will be or how long it will take for me to complete something and then keep pushing it off. Instead of letting that get to you, take a deep breath and start working. I promise it wouldn’t take two hours to write one blog post to publish that day and that you will be able to get your accounting reading done. Get your mind off of thinking something will be too time consuming or too difficult and instead work on getting it done.
Identify your time wasters.
Hello, my name is Megan and I have a slight Netflix binge watching problem. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s be real. As a college student juggling so much I don’t have enough time to binge watch the newest season of Fuller House or to rewatch Grey’s Anatomy. I also know that the worst thing I can do is sit down on my bed with my laptop and start watching YouTube videos. It’s like I get lost in some black whole and then finally realize, “Oh hey, it’s been three hours, I should probably get to work on that math homework now…” This doesn’t mean that it’s wrong to watch Netflix, or binge watch it for that matter, it just simply means that if you need to get something done, where you know you will waste time isn’t how you need to be spending your time.
Have a rewards system.
I’m a firm believer in rewarding yourself for accomplishing something or getting through a long week. My friends all know when I’m planning for a long week because I will reach out to them asking to do a movie night on Saturday or if they want to stop for coffee Sunday afternoon. Sometimes I even plan appointments such as a haircut or massage after a long week of tests and deadlines. For me it’s about planning something I can look forward to doing after making it through my tests, projects, on-call shifts, etc. It’s all about the little things guys!
Do you utilize any of these tips to be more productive? If not, which of these tips do you hope to use? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!