I am one of those people who has recently (in the past year or so) gotten into planning each week and normally it goes well and I accomplish everything on my to-do lists. However there are some days, even weeks when I feel completely overloaded with work, sometimes I won’t plan my week and my head will be a mess and I won’t get anything done. This for me means blog posts won’t be written, uni work won’t be done, and I’ll just end up slumping feeling as though I’ve failed.
Yesterday I had the most productive day in a while and I wasn’t even thinking about it. I completed everything on my to-do list, finished my book (mentioned in last week’s blog post) watered my plants, did my laundry, did a face mask and a hair mask, watched a bit of netflix and planned a couple of blog posts. The best thing was I wasn’t even stressing as I did one thing I don’t normally do – I listened to my body. I took a break and caught up on The Good Place on netflix when I wasn’t feeling it then got back to work and feel so much better because of it. Now I’m not calling myself amazing and that you should listen to what I’m saying because it may not work for you but if you’re looking for some productivity tips then this might help you.
- Plan – I am a massive planner. I like to spend a moment on sunday’s planning the week ahead. I like to think it puts me in a great mindset as it makes me fell more prepared and it means everything I need to get done during the week is already at the forefront of my mind. In the photo you’ll see how I set up my week. It’s a little plain but that’s how I like it – it’s simple to understand and I don’t give myself too much to do each day as it makes me a little overwhelmed sometimes and I don’t end up doing as much as I could have.
- Listen to your body – you’re body knows its self more than you think. If its tired and won’t do more work or take more information in, it won’t let you and it will tell you that. You might try and ignore this – whether its a headache or otherwise – but ignoring these small issues will only make them worse. If you’re struggling take a break, if my eyes are very sore that day I will take some time out of working on my laptop and read a book or chill for 20 minutes. But during this time I try not to use any electric devices as that tends to hurt my eyes more. Taking that time away to read or do whatever it is you want to do will take your mind off the task at hand for enough time to take a bit of the pressure off and bring you back more focussed on getting the job done.
- Exercise – this is not to say go out and by a gym membership and exercise 5 days a week. I mean if that’s the best way for you to be productive then go for it but I’m talking about going out of the house at least once a day (if you’re working from home) or leave your working space to take 5 minutes to chill. And when I do this I like to get out and go for a walk – either walk into town and buy a coffee, or just walk to the beach and spend a little bit of time there. The fresh air will do you good and clear your head if you’re stuck on where to begin.
- Don’t stick to the plan – this one is a bit contradicting but goes with the listen to your body point. If you can’t concentrate there’s no point forcing yourself to complete a task if you aren’t going to do it well. My advice is prioritise your tasks and the ones that are less of a priority move them to another day if you’re worried you’re not going to get everything done. Don’t worry about sticking to the plan if you’re not feeling great.
- Find a good workspace – I might go into this in more detail in another blog post but I have always struggled to do work in my room. In first year I didn’t as I was living on campus so did my work in the library, in second year I didn’t have a desk and being away from campus I didn’t go in so spent all my money in Nero on coffee whilst I worked there. Finally this year I have a desk in my room and I have created my perfect space.
- How do you work best? – find your best learning style. Do you take notes? Do you annotate books and essays? Do you watch videos back of you’re lectures? Do you just look at powerpoints? Everyone takes in information completely differently so figure out which way works best for you and try to apply that to all your work. There’s no point buying a book that you’re never going to read just because it ‘looks like it might help’, if you know that watching that lecture online again is going to lock the information in your head then do that.
- Dress right for you – if you know you’re the type of person who is going to end up in bed watching netflix all day if they wear pyjamas to do work then just don’t do it. Your mind can think it needs to get work done just by wearing the right type of clothes so wear what feels best. Something that’s comfy but also something you would wear at uni because then you know that you can work in it.
- Go easy on yourself and don’t overthink it – this is probably the most important one and you always need to remember it. Go easy on yourself because your mental health is always the most important thing at the end of the day. Some people are lucky enough to choose their own schedule and have time to chill, others have a schedule they have to stick to religiously and the only time they can chill is when they sleep. I would say I’m somewhere in the middle of the two – I have to stick to a schedule with work and uni and sometimes I don’t have time to relax on days when I have deadlines and a 9-hour shift straight after but other days I don’t have work and I don’t have uni so I try and make them as productive as I can. But I sometimes need to chill and relax – watch some netflix, read, do a face mask – and that’s okay as well because I have gone through many days when I have worked myself to the ground and felt like I’ve gotten anything out of it but I’ve learnt now to go easy on myself and to not take it all too seriously. Obviously there is a fine line there so don’t go too easy on yourself because that might end badly but just believe in yourself and if you need it ask for help – everyone needs it sometimes.