If my suddenly-busy schedule has taught me anything, it’s that I am a pro-procrastinator. However, my ways of procrastinating often involve writing and rewriting my ‘to do’ list over and over until it’s perfect. Don’t ask me why but I find it so satisfying (not as much as actually crossing off my ‘to do’ list but shh). I see myself as quite a relaxed person when it comes to deadlines and getting stuff done, but I’ve always made the deadline and done quite well in terms of grades for essays, so I’ve decided to share a few of my tips with you.
Write everything down
Firstly, just write a ‘to do’ list. Get it all onto paper or into your ‘notes’ on your phone, just somewhere you look regularly, to be able to visualise your thoughts. I find this so useful when I’m feeling overwhelmed. I tend to prefer to use my iPhone’s ‘notes’ when writing the things I want to get done generally, but say I have to plan an essay or expand my ideas, then I much prefer a good ol’ pen and paper. Something about it seems more natural to me and my thoughts flow better. If you’re struggling using word processors and online mind-maps all the time, go back to basics. It’s so therapeutic compared to looking at screens all day.
Use a calendar
Every single year I am given a diary planner for Christmas and every single year it stays empty. I know why, I change my mind a lot and there’s never enough room to keep adding points and I’m lazy to carry it with me. This is where technology comes in handy. I’ve recently started utilising Google Calendars now that I have more and more students to be able to visualise my time span and also to be able to share it with students if needs be. Before that, I quite liked just using Excel to manage my time, but only generally speaking rather than specific errands. For example, the slot I dedicate for ‘blog’ on Excel could include anything from readings posts, to planning posts, to reading-up on HTML. Then I specify in my phone notes as mentioned above.
Make time for yourself
I’m guilty of this, sitting down to do coursework until 3am because you’re on a roll (aka delirious and convinced you’re the next Ezra Pound) then not being able to make sense of it the next day. Luckily for me I was studying art so could pass it off as a stream-of-consciousness or something (no really, it worked). It’s exhausting to work like this and I’m still in the process now of weaning my body out of it and into productive daylight hours. This is where procrastination takes place but I find this is lessened when I’ve had time to go outside, exercise, chat with friends and then schedule in time for working when I get home. It makes a world of difference.
Whether you’re working from home or have coursework to do, the most effective way to keep your brain motivated is to take regular breaks. That doesn’t mean going onto Facebook every 10 minutes, you should walk around, have some air, rest your eyes and cuddle your cat or something. Easier said than done, especially when the deadline is approaching but it will help, promise.
Take time off
Similar to having time for yourself, but really try to schedule in a day or two each week to just do nothing. Well, nothing productive. Even if you enjoy working on your website and it’s all very exciting having time away from it all will bring you fresh ideas and energy for when you approach it again.
Chat with friends!
Sure you shouldn’t be on Facebook when you’re trying to work or study, but if there’s something you’re particularly stuck on it’s definitely worth messaging your friends and just blasting out all relevant information to ask for their opinion. I do this whenever I have a creative block and have a thread through Facebook message with my friends where we just chat. I think it’s a few years old now so I dread to imagine what conversations the GCHQ have been spying on… But anyway, just by explaining what you’re doing to someone else is usually more than enough to provoke new ideas from you, and if that doesn’t then I can guarantee that one of your friends will say something that you hadn’t vene thought of yet. Then brainstorm, always brainstorm.
Eat and drink plenty
I find I can’t concentrate at all if I’m even slightly hungry or thirsty. Your body will be nicely content if you eat slow-release energy foods and drink lots of water and/or green tea while you work – that brain is running a marathon! Besides, drinking a lot is not only good for your body but it means you’ll be forced to stand up and walk around every so often when you’re bursting for the loo!
Tidy your surroundings
It could be considered procrastination, or maybe just valuable thinking time, but before you start make sure you’re working in a tidy environment. Your brain will be all over the place just like your clothes and you’ll struggle to make sense of what you need to work on if you’re not in an organised environment!
I hope you’ve enjoyed my list of tips for staying organised, I’d love to hear what you do to stay motivated!