Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Dancing Through Life's Lessons: Productivity

     Do you ever feel overwhelmed as a student or as a professional? Do you find yourself procrastinating and feeling burnt out by all the stuff you have to get done so sometimes the important things don't get done the way you'd like?
     Productivity is something that is vitally important to basically everyone, no matter your profession. Over the past year or so I have gathered to gather some tips I am going to share with you that I have learned as a full-time college student with a part-time job who on the side runs a blog (this one), writes for an E-magazine (Christ Centered Girls), is a stage actress and has to take care of her health (which is incredibly challenging and trying at times).

1. Create to-do lists
     Create a list of everything you need to accomplish this week both major and minor tasks as well as how long it will take to do each task either on your phone or on a notepad.

2. Prioritize tasks
     It might be a bit overwhelming to see all the tasks you have to do in seven days but after this step, I assure you, it will feel less daunting and hopefully you'll feel less overwhelmed. First of all you need to reassess what to focus on. These things are primarily the top priority things such as any homework, exam prep, take home tests etc. This is what you need to focus on and put all your attention towards.

  • What is the deadline for each task?
  • Which one needs to be finished first (always the one with the deadline closest to what today's date is).
  • How important is the task? What would happen if it wasn't done on time?
  • What is the effect that the task will have on other or consequential tasks?
  • Are there any prerequisites that needs to be done before this task? Is it mandatory for you do this task before otherwise the other tasks can't be done?
  • If the task is left unfinished, uncompleted, incomplete or poorly done, how is it gonna affect you and what is the cost of that?
  • What is the opportunity cost? If you spent your time on Task A and not Task B, what will it cost you? What could you potentially miss out on?
  • Can you assign the task to someone else or have someone assist you with it?
After evaluating all the tasks based on factors such as these, you will know what to prioritize.

3. Schedule and allocate time for each task
     This task will definitely help all you college students. If you schedule and allocate time for each subject you will do substantially better on the exams and therefore end up with a good grade in the class. 
     So grab a planner, preferably with a weekly time schedule layout and start jotting down tasks to do throughout the day. Here is what yesterday (Monday Oct 23th) looked like for me at University.

(Made on the Numbers app for Apple Computers).

Make sure you you stick to your schedule.

     If you spent too much time with a specific task, it's okay to reorganize your schedule. So let's say I didn't finish Task A. After work I would finish Task A and may be only watch two GC episodes instead of three. And I don't mind if I have to go to bed an hour later than I would like. As long as I am in bed trying to sleep before midnight, I'm good!

4. Get in the zone
  • Disconnect from Social Media
If you're working on a task that doesn't involve the internet, disconnect from it. Our phones are a massive distraction in our daily lives so when I am studying or something that doesn't involve my phone, I keep it across the room from wherever I am (or in my backpack if I'm not at home), so I stay on track. I always have an alarm on my phone for the allotted time I gave myself for each task. When the alarm goes off I'll take a few minute break, like on weekends, putting my laundry in the washer,  into the dyer and finally folding/putting them away are my so-called breaks between tasks.
  • Find your sanctuary
For me, my happy place, my sanctuary is a local coffee shop in my hometown. When I was at Community College I went to this coffee shop practically every day after classes were over while I waited for one of my parents to pick me up. I also went there a lot over the summer after work, so I could write blogs posts and whatever other things I needed to do. Wherever your sanctuary is, go there and do work there. I always do my best work at a coffee shop. I'm not sure why, maybe it's the relaxing ambiance and the smell of freshly roasted coffee. 
  • Block out noise
Some people, like myself, can work with music on but if you aren't one of those people, block out noise. You could even put on a pair of headphones but not have it plugged into a phone or computer if you need to block out the noise around you. If I'm at this local coffee shop and I am working on something imperative, chances are I'll put my headphones on so no one bothers me.

5. Optimise your time
There will always be inevitable activities that will waste time in your daily life from errands, to chores to community so it is crucial that you optimize your time so you get each task done properly and on time.
  • Commute time
For me, because I use a wheelchair I always leave my house, or wherever I am on campus 15 minutes before my class begins. This way I am never late to class. On a Monday, as you can see, I do have an option to go back home after my morning class but I choose to stay on campus and do things because it's an inconvenience for me to go back and forth between my house off-campus and my classes on campus because my University isn't wheelchair friendly. I always have my laptop ready with me so I can work on things that need to be done between classes. I've attended a student senate meeting and sitting in the back I quietly wrote a paper for class that was due that day. 
  • Waiting time
This another unavoidable thing. Waiting for the bus, waiting for class to start etc. Usually these waiting times are relatively short (5-15min) which isn't enough time to do work the requires focus. During this time I like to respond to emails, update social media, and converse with family and friends. I'll use my time on the bus or whatnot to do the same if the trip is relatively short. If it's a longer trip and I have the space, I will bring out my laptop and start some easy work (like writing a blog post) during the trip. That allows me to have more time during the day to focus on important tasks like homework etc. 

6. Keep track of each task
     Once you've allocated time for each task make sure you stick to it and that each task is on schedule. If one task is left undone, re-arrange your schedule again and make sure you catch up on it ASAP to avoid procrastination or postponing.

7. Reap a habit
     Finally, it might sound very easy to do but and be extremely hard to follow through. Starting a new habit, such as this one, is hard but if you do it repeatedly you will reap a habit. Over and over you will be able to prioritize your tasks, focus, and maximize your productivity, without feeling overwhelmed or burnt out.
    The mind has a memory and it subconsciously recognizes patterns. Only if you knew the tick to manipulating your own mind, you'll realize that it's actually easy to do or achieve anything you set your mind too. 

     So that is it for this post. I hope you all enjoyed it! As always please give this post a +1 if you have a Google+ account, follow me on all my social media accounts and share it with your friends.

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