By Naomi Atwater
What stops you from completing your to-do list every day?
Everyone will answer this question differently. Sometimes our roadblocks include procrastination, interruptions, distractions, or never having enough time.
These are all valid reasons, but there is one more obvious thing hindering us. Even when we do have the time or the perfect distraction-free environment, something else holds us back. You have a lot to get done each day as a full-time student and balancing a job! Maybe, we can’t get everything done that we want to because we don’t know how to get started.
Where do I begin with organizing my week?
Start with a foundational weekly plan that stays consistent throughout the semester. You could use a physical paper copy of a weekly hourly schedule that you fill in by hand, but you might prefer a digital version through Google calendar or a similar resource.
On your schedule, add everything you can think of that is a regular part of your week. This could include your classes, work schedule, weekly meetings, groups you are a part of, and even consistent meal times or times you’re always at the gym.
What about everything else I have to do?
Do you have a plan for when to study? Or fill out paperwork? Or send emails for your job? Or write essays? Or even do your laundry?
Pull up the schedule you just made and begin planning chunks of time for your homework, paperwork, or anything you have to do on your own time. Evaluate each class and your study habits to determine how long your homework will take and how frequently you’ll need to work on it.
If you’re unsure where to begin with scheduling, start evaluating the classes that have the most work and add blocks of time for that homework first. As you grow more accustomed to working on a schedule, you’ll then be able to adjust which assignments will take more or less time.
Once you schedule a time to do your homework for each class, you’ll know exactly what to be doing during that time each week.
How do I know which work to get done first?
Prioritize! Although prioritizing is easy to understand and less easy to practice, our days will feel much more streamlined when we have a strategy. Your time is valuable- what are you going to spend it on?
Try making goals for your time on three separate lists containing everything that:
- You have to accomplish (tasks with deadlines that are approaching, for example)
- Would be helpful to accomplish (would help you get ahead, but these are not urgent tasks)
- You want to accomplish (anything else weighing on your mind you’d like to do).
This separation of your tasks helps you formulate your agenda. Your first list contains your top priorities, and the second two can be completed afterward.
How do I keep working when I’m Exhausted?
You have two huge responsibilities if you’re studying and working. No wonder if you feel exhausted!
Ironically, the most essential aspect of working hard is making sure that you rest. As much as we’d all love to be able to push through every day and complete every project to absolute perfection, our personal health and mental state are crucial too.
When you don’t allow yourself time to rest and give your brain a chance to relax, you experience continuous drain upon yourself, you’ll find less enjoyment in your work, and you won’t be able to do your best.
Take a day off each week, or an hour each day, or a few minutes every hour, to simply do whatever helps you recuperate. Make sure you have the energy to do your best work.
Strategic time for breaks and recuperation (however that may look for you personally) IS part of being productive. Make sure you include times in your schedule where you don’t have to be doing anything at all.
Editors Note: Naomi Atwater is a junior in college studying communications.