Staying Organised in Third Year

And productivity tips to get everything done.

I have a month left of university. Actually, it’s less because of easter holidays. This is a scary thought and every time I think about it (at least once every hour) I have a rush of dread wash over me. But then the cloud looming over me that is my dissertations deadline comes back into my mind and my thoughts and worries move elsewhere.

I feel like this year I have been more organised and productive than any other year as an undergraduate and so I wanted to share with you guys a couple of ways I have stayed organised this year and productivity tips I have been following recently. These tips I found on Career Girl Daily and I wanted to you show how I have incorporated them and adapted them to suit me.

Plan Your Time – Nothing is worse that feeling all over the place because you have too many things to get done. It’s nobody’s fault, it’s just how life works. Which is why planning your time and having a clear idea of what you need to do and when you need to do it is one of the best ways to stay organised. I have dissertation meetings first thing on a Monday morning, because of this I will spend Monday’s working off feedback from my dissertation supervisor – that way it’s all still fresh in my head and I know what I need to do. I don’t let myself get distracted by other tasks on Monday’s because otherwise I lose the flow of dissertation work.

Prioritise – This and the above go hand in hand. First, you need to figure out what your priorities are, then work around them and plan your time accordingly. My main priority is my dissertation right now, then it is my other module, then applying for internships/writing cover letters, then this blog and finally work. After that comes my social life. Looking back at this it is kind of sad to read it as I’m prioritising everything above my social life but with my final few weeks at uni coming straight for me I need to sacrifice something. It can’t be university work, it can’t be job applications, it can’t be this blog as it is helping me work towards the future and it can’t be my job or I won’t have any money. I have also managed to organise my time so I generally get everything done during the week and have the weekends free to spend with friends and loved ones.

Create a routine that works for you – I feel like these all work well together, and when you’ve mastered one point you can figure out the rest. Creating a routine is great – it keeps you focussed, you get things done when you need them to be completed and it almost becomes a habit. But you need to create a routine that works for you. For me, I like to be in uni 9-5 Monday to Friday (unless I’m at work) as I tend to complete everything I need to in that time and then I get to see my boyfriend at the weekends as he works away during the week. It means I don’t feel bad for doing uni work over him as he isn’t here but then I also don’t feel guilty for spending time with him as I’ve completed all the uni work I need to do. But what works for me may not work for you, so figure out what works best for you and create that routine as you’ll realise it’s a lot easier than you thought.

Get a planner – I don’t think I can stress enough how much of a planner I am, I practically always have one when I go out and if I don’t I will write everything down on my phone then hand write it when I’m home. I love the Moleskine weekly planners as they have a horizontal weekly diary on the left page and a lined page on the right hand side. I then write all my classes, and work shifts on the diary and on the lined page write to do lists for each module, my blog and my general life. I also love dotted notebooks to created my own weekly layouts. Since using my Moleskine planner I’ve gone off dotted notebooks but I still think they’re a great way to plan your week and they have the added flexibility of creating a weekly spread when you want.

Focus on one task at a time – One thing I’ve learnt not to do is overwork myself. To avoid this I’ve found focussing on one task at a time is the best thing to do in order to accomplish work and not feel overwhelmed. It’s hard when you have so many things going on but if you dedicate enough time throughout the week to focus on what needs to be done then you will get it all done, rather than worrying about what you should be doing. If you plan your time according to your priorities you will be able to focus on a task at a time and get it all done. Like I said in the first point, I spend Monday’s focussing on my dissertation. If I even look at my other module I lose focus and struggle to get back on track. Emails are another hard one. I try and keep my email notifications off during the times I’m doing work as they are a massive distraction for me. Instead I give myself time to look over them everyday when I have finished the work I need to do.

Productivity tips 

progress vs perfection – I am a perfectionist. And all I ever want is things to be perfect the first time around, but being a writer this is never the case. The first draft is always the shit version where you get all your ideas down and editing is where the hard work really begins. I’ve learnt to accept progress as an accomplishment as opposed to getting something perfect the first time around. I’m writing a screenplay for my dissertation but I know it won’t be a major feature film once the first draft is done. I do know however that once the first draft is done that I will have a solid starting point to progress into a major feature film one day. Editing is key to making rubbish perfect, and once you acknowledge and accept that then you can make it perfect.

Plug in and get stuff done – I am guilty of getting distracted very easily if people talk to me whilst doing work. I think it’s because I don’t want to be seen as rude and ignore them. To combat this, putting in headphones and blocking out the world is a fail safe method for me to get work done. Some people struggle to listen to their favourite songs whilst doing work so I suggest finding a playlist that helps you concentrate and plug in.

Saying no more often – Again, much like the above tip, I struggle to say no to people – I feel rude and am worried that people will talk about me behind my back if I say no to them. But I’ve learnt that, at this point in my life, saying no to picking up shifts or going out is crucial for me. I know that if I say yes all the time then I will end up regretting it later on so I’m taking on saying no more often in order to combat this stress. I’ve also learnt that even if I do say no to my friends when they’re going out they aren’t going to hate me, and if they did moan about it then I know that they aren’t really my friends as those who are will understand why you’re saying no and respect it.

Drink water – I drink too much coffee. Or rather I used to drink too much coffee and not enough water. This meant I was getting headaches and couldn’t focus properly and, as a result, I wouldn’t get as much work done as I wanted to. I have been consciously trying to drink at least 2.5 litres of water a day in order to stay hydrated and alert. And obviously water has so many other benefits for your body: it helps reduce joint pain, it boosts skin health, the digestive system depends on it, it helps with weight loss, just to name a few. I have been trying to drink water as soon as I wake up, regularly throughout the day and right before I go to bed. Since doing so I have felt a lot better in myself and my housemates and friends are always telling me that my skin looks great (it’s all down to water)

Go outside more –  I mentioned this one in my Self-Care blog post. I now walk to and from uni and that time to myself energises me. The more air you see, the more time you’ll want to spend outside and the more inspired you will feel, meaning the more productive you will be. I love walking to and from uni, I get to appreciate where I live and spend time on my own which is really good for mental wellbeing.

Include self care in your planner – your day doesn’t start at university and end when you leave. I like to make sure I set time aside to do the little things that make me happy, like paint my nails, do a face mask, tidy my room and water my plants as those are some of the things that always disrupt my workflow if they haven’t been done. Getting these little extra self-care aspects (whatever they are for you) written down and then completed means you won’t be worrying about them constantly which then means you can focus fully on work.


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