The organized student is back! With the winter break right around the corner, and the finals session right after it (*sad face*), this is the best time to talk about productivity and organization again.
I already said last time, in The organized student series (part 1) that writing everything down is extremely important if you want to successfully juggle multiple tasks, so I won’t stress that part anymore (but seriously, write write write!).
Moving on, there are a few more cards up my sleeve when it comes to keeping my stuff together which, if applied correctly, can make your life easier, too 🙂 We all need to remember that we are not born with an “organizational/productivity gene”, we achieve that skill by trial and error. And, like any skill, if you can train for it, you will inevitably get better at it by training – something to keep in mind when you feel discouraged by the amount of work you have to do, or on those days when you feel like nothing falls into place.
You know that saying “Out of sight, out of mind”, right? Same goes for college life or adult life in general. When your work/study space is decluttered, your mind will process easier the tasks you will throw at it, because the space helps you focus on what’s important, and not on all the mess around you. So take a few minutes every day (or every few days, it’s entirely up to you), and clear out your living/working space. It won’t take long and, with time, you’ll notice that the clean space also helps with your mood.
Why waste time each morning preparing your lunch (or even lunch and breakfast, if you have to leave early in the morning), when you can pick a day of the week (for example, Sunday) when you can prepare all the food you will eat each day of the following week, in advance? I know, it’s a hard task when you first look at it. And I know what you’re going to say: “I don’t have time to meal-prep for a whole day/ I don’t have the inspiration to cook different meals for an entire week, etc”. Ok. How about if you meal-prep the night before? When you think about it, it only takes a few minutes, and you can use those few extra minutes in the morning to go for a run. Or sleep a bit more – your choice.
… go digital!
I know it sounds weird coming from me, since I’m such a huge pen-and-paper lover, but the digital era has its perks (…duh). While I’m all for writing lists and goals and memos on a notebook or an agenda, calendars will simplify every aspect of an appointment: you can easily move an appointment, if it has been rescheduled, you can change the date, the place, the participants, every little detail can be tweaked and modified. I know you know this. The digital era is not news anymore (not since the youngest generation has a phone when they’re 2), but maybe you needed a little nudge, a kick in the right direction. Maybe you were thinking about completely trusting a calendar for a while, but you weren’t exactly sure, what do I know? What I do know, is that combining the digital calendar and the physical agenda has helped me a lot during my years of college and, now that I’m about to step into the “real world”, I think I might hold onto this trick 🙂
… never stop learning
High school ends. College ends. Learning doesn’t have to. It is scientifically proven that learning new abilities and keeping your mind stimulated helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease. But before that happens, learning also keeps you up to date in multiple areas and grows your emotional intelligence, which is also awesome. So why not keep your brain functioning for as long as possible, while becoming a well-read human being?
… take a break
When studying, remember that you need to take a break every now and then, because if your brain is saturated with information, it cannot process anything else you throw at it so, in order to make sure you have a firm grasp on the subject you are studying, make sure you get up, stretch, go for a walk, or just listen to some music for 15 minutes. This helps your brain memorize the information and store it properly. If you don’t let your mind rest, it will compensate for the new information by “forgetting” the old information (as in…the first chapters of the book you have to memorize, which you just read this morning), and this just means that you are sabotaging yourself. So, in return, help yourself out by breathing for 10 minutes every 50 minutes you study, or go for a walk every two hours, so the information can settle in.