Well, it’s been a while now, hasn’t it? But I hope you’ll draw up a chair and stay a bit! Today I want to write about getting things done. And as the title of this post suggests, these are simply my thoughts. I am a young student. I have a lot to learn. But these techniques are ones that have helped me when I feel overwhelmed or pressed to get things done. I am no expert on this and struggle on a daily basis with keeping my priorities straight. But I wanted to write them out anyway, and if you are encouraged, I am so glad! :)
Let me start by saying that even when pressured by a mountain of things to do, don’t skimp on your time with the Lord. First reading His word and praying will help you to keep a quiet and calm heart in the midst of a busy schedule. If you can, do it first thing in the morning, because I have found that the things I do right after I wake up set the tone for the entire day.
(1) Make a list. Make a list. Make a list. List-making hugely reduces stress because it frees up our brains to not have to remember every detail. We don’t need to worry. We simply to refer to our lists when we get forget what comes next. I am officially hooked on Wunderlist. Wesley introduced it to me, and though very hesitant to switch from paper-and-pencil lists, I finally gave it a try. Now I can’t go a day without it. Basically it’s an online “list-making” program you can download to your mobile phone or computer. It allows you to enter items and cross them off when you’re complete. You can even share these lists with family members and friends! But regardless of the type of list you use, be sure that you don’t try to fit too much into one day.
(2) Communicate! If you live at home with your family, check with your mom/dad/siblings before holing up in your room to study. I can have a tendency to go study before double-checking with the family schedule, which leads to miscommunication. Let your family know what you are doing and try to structure your personal schedule around the family schedule so that you can be available when needed.
(3) Remove distractions. Before sitting down to tackle a pile of projects, first remove every distraction. Turn off the music. Log out of Facebook. Close the door. I personally have a hard time getting anything accomplished in a messy room, so I do a quick tidy first. Do what it takes to create an environment that will help you focus.
(4) Take the plunge. Typically, the hardest part about doing something you don’t want to do is getting started. This applies to not only studying, but also to workouts, chores, projects, and even just getting out of my warm bed on a cold morning! :) I have only one thing to say: Just. Do. It. You can’t get anything done without first starting it. Get past the initial push and it’ll often be downhill from there.
(5) Tackle the small stuff first. Do the little things on your list before attacking the big ones. Things like returning a phone call, shooting a quick message, or turning in that mandatory 5-minute survey should be done first. These are easy to pick off one-by-one. By doing them first, you’ll really feel like you are making tracks, which carries over to the big stuff as well.
(6) Recharge. Say you’ve been working non-stop for a while now. It’s time to take a break! I cannot emphasize the importance of this enough. One of the most common and detrimental mistakes students make is that they write up a big hairy huge list of things to get done, lock the door, grit their teeth, and resolve to not come out under any circumstance until it’s DONE. Completed. Bam. Big mistake. Taking breaks is essential for optimal study time. Give your eyes a break by not staying on the computer. Be creative and think outside the box: I like to play the piano, play fetch with my dog, throw the football with my brothers, do some jumping jacks, chin ups, or pushups, run a mile, eat a cookie. Or two. Or ten. Just kidding. You could fold a load of laundry, bake cookies, clean a bathroom, or do some other household chore that doesn’t require much brain energy. A good break will help you avoid getting burnt out and gives you the boost you need to come back at it with energy and enthusiasm.
(7) Re-group. Finally, one of the biggest mistakes I make at the end of the day is getting discouraged over what I didn’t accomplish instead of looking at everything I DID get done. Don’t make that mistake. If something takes longer than expected or if you ended up deviating from your plans to do something more important, don’t worry! Get back on track tomorrow. Life happens and doesn’t always go as planned. Don’t be such a stickler that you can’t enjoy a spontaneous event. That’s how memories are made. :)
So there’s my two cents on the subject. What are some things you do to help you get things done?