Here are 5 quick tips that will give you the launchpad to attain the most valuable thing on Earth: TIME!
By: Ava Kesler
If there's one thing that I hope you get from reading this article, it's that you take the time to discover for yourself how you can get things done. Don't let the pressure of finishing something or checking Instagram prevent you from helping yourself in the long term. Time will always be something you have to deal with, and by developing your relationship with it now, you will save yourself so much more in the near and distant future.
1. Make a Detailed To-Do List
The key here is detailed. By adding a few details to the tasks on your to-do list, you make your list less stressful. This is because the clarity that details provide change your task from a big broad idea, to a specific bite-size piece.
For example, say you wrote "eat" on your to-do list.
That is vague and confusing, and it takes too much thinking to figure out what you meant when writing it. Usually this leads to frustration, which dissuades you from getting it done.
Instead, write, "Eat a salad of cucumbers, tomatoes, and cheese."
This is a direct statement that tells you exactly what needs to be done.
As a result, the task becomes less overwhelming, promoting you to actually do it.
Remember, nothing is harder than doing a bunch of little things but not finishing any of them. An easy way to counter this is to break your tasks into little chunks. Instead of writing "Finish essay" a week before it is due, write "Finish intro paragraph." This is a much more do-able task that you can actually accomplish, which will leave you feeling much more satisfied at the end of the day.
2. Stay Away from Any Distractions
When you begin your homework, something as little as a text message or a dog barking can completely break your streak. Even if you're already in the zone, distractions are still dangerous.
It's important to find a quiet, clean study space where you won't be disturbed. Calmly let everyone in the house know that you need to work alone for the next few hours, and if they start making a ruckus, try putting some white noise on from YouTube. Still, you may have to find another location where you can focus on your schoolwork.
Another way to limit distractions is to put all electronics on a mode that will hide notifications from you. This does not include leaving your vibration on, those are still distractions. Look for a setting that still lets messages through but doesn't let them show up on the screen. If you are really worried about missing something important, you can put an alarm every 45 minutes or so to check if you received any urgent messages.
You could also keep your phone in another room while you work. This decreases the chances of you checking it, since it will take more effort for you to get up from your comfy seat to look at it.
If you are really excited to check something on your phone, like the release of a new music album, just go ahead and look at it. Your focus will be off the entire study session if all you do is think about how much you wish you could listen to the album, so it's better to get that out of the way.
However, this is an easy way to fall into a trap of checking all of your social media platforms. To avoid this, try using app limits in settings. This will prevent you from wasting too much time. Personally, I have a limit that only lets me use Instagram and YouTube for a total of 1 hour every day. I find that this drastically improves my productivity.
3. Designate a Time Frame to Finish
Giving yourself deadlines is a great way to finish your work. I always had ballet 2 hours after getting home from school, so I really had to work quickly and efficiently if I didn't want to be finishing everything at 10:00pm.
Setting a timer is a simple way to help you finish your work. When you have a test, you know you're only getting those 50 minutes to finish it, and most of the time you do. Use that method to get your homework done too.
There are many ways to carry this out, such as the Pomodoro Technique, that use different strategies and time intervals to finish tasks. Now that you are aware of them, you can do the research and trial and error to figure out which method works best for you.
4. Keep Your Area Organized
Once you actually get started, it is very hard to continue when you are missing something you need. Prepare ahead of time so you are not scrambling around looking for your materials when the clock is ticking.
For example, when I would vacuum, I would have to stop every 5 seconds to pick up a cat toy or something else that couldn't be vacuumed up. This really messed with me, because first I'm vacuuming, now I'm maneuvering and switching tasks which just completely stops the flow of determination I first had when I plugged in the vacuum.
Now, I give the room a complete run down to scout out all the toys and miscellaneous knick knacks that prevented me from easily vacuuming. This lets me vacuum for a straight 30 minutes instead of scattered intervals that stretched for over an hour.
When you work on school, little disturbances like those are even harder to deal with.
To avoid this, dedicate one hour every week to simply organizing. Familiarize yourself with everything in your backpack, and throw away the trash. Research nice containers to keep your pens sorted, and eventually you will find a system that you like best.
Personally I have a standing pencil pouch in my backpack for the stationary I use every day, and a wire holder on my desk at home for all of my highlighters, pens, pencils, notepads, erasers, and just everything that I occasionally need, but not on a daily basis.
It will take time to find your organization system, it took me my whole life and I'm still not done growing it! But don't let that dissuade you from starting like it did me. If you never start organizing because you don't have a perfect method yet, then you truly never will have one, and it will grow into an even bigger nuisance every day.
5. Allow Yourself Short Breaks at Regular Intervals
Regardless of whether or not you have a specific technique for managing your time, you should always give yourself little breaks. This is very important in everything you do.
When I do a lot of pirouettes in a row, taking a moment to regroup and rest my feet always makes the next set feel 100x easier.
Even though taking a break might seem like you are wasting 10 minutes, those 10 minutes are going to save you an hour in the future because now you won't be burned out. You'll be getting back to work refreshed and strong, and saving tons more time. Even if that means you have to take naps, do what you need to do. I could only write one line of this article this afternoon, but now that I took a two hour nap, I just finished this whole thing in under an hour! (I even had to edit that one line because it didn't really make sense!)
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