This is my brain dump of what works for me. I wanted to share these tips with you, and hopefully you find it helpful!
Here’s my disclaimer: By no means do I have my life put together and always do these things. I’m learning just like you and would benefit from listening to my own advice sometimes. 🙂 The purpose of productivity for me is to make time to enjoy life and not waist precious moments being stressed out. Remember, “Do not be anxious about anything.” (Phil. 4:6)
With that said, here are my ten tips to a more productive lifestyle:
1. Put away the phone
Spend less time concerning yourself with the virtual world and more time being present in the real one. It’s becoming concerning how much time we waste on our phones when we should be actually getting things done. Consider allotting specific times when you can look at social media, post a picture, or respond to texts or emails. Maybe delete the social media app for a time.
2. Read more
Instead of mindlessly scrolling through social media before I go to bed at night, I’ve started reading a few pages of a book. Not only do I sleep better because my mind isn’t constantly running through things, I’ve noticed that I retain information better, and I listen and focus better in class. Instead of stunting my brain with my phone, I’m constantly feeding it new knowledge and vocabulary by reading. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a huge reader and it takes a very interesting book to get me through it, but I’m learning to enjoy it and the benefits that come with it.
3. Use two planners – one daily and one weekly
Every Sunday I usually get everything organized for the upcoming week. This includes planning out Monday through Friday, hour by hour, all at once. Of course, things come up and you need to be flexible, but I find that blocking out my week keeps me mentally on check and on top of things. Here’s how I plan out the week: I have 5am-9pm as my day and I first fill in my morning routine which usually looks like Bible, exercise, breakfast, and dress for the day. Then I fill in my classes, my golf practice, my work, any appointments or plans on my monthly calendar, and what time I plan on getting to bed. At this point, I’ll go to my weekly calendar and plan out all the assignments I need to get done that week and what days I’ll do them. Then I’ll assign subjects to the remaining time in my daily planner. Every morning I’ll look at my planned out day, I’ll cross out things as I complete them, and every night I’ll look at the following day to see what I have going on. This seems like a lot, and it might be a hassle on Sunday night to spend time doing this, but it actually frees you up during the week because you’re less stressed out and more able to focus on the task in front of you.
4. Sticky notes and more sticky notes
I think I have a thing for sticky notes. It’s quite tempting when I see a stack of post it notes in new colors at the store and have to resist buying them. Honestly though, sticky notes are pretty amazing. I have a stack on my desk and some in my backpack. Whenever a task comes to my head or something I feel I need to remember, down it goes on that colored little paper and I slap it down in one of my planners. Don’t expect me to remember anything if it’s not in my handy dandy planner, people.
5. Wake up early
Resist the snooze button and get your butt out of bed, my friends! It’s always worth it. I think I memorized this quote back in like 6th grade when I finally got around to using an alarm clock, “Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” -Benjamin Franklin. What’s early? Well that’s up to you, but for me, a good productive day starts at 5am, and it’s been like that since 7th grade. I slack off here and there, but I try to get up around that time or else I don’t get in that much needed quiet time with the Lord first thing in the morning. It’s just me and God time, and I don’t like the whole house being up to disturb that. 🙂 Here are my tips on actually getting up on time: 1) get the right alarm. I recommend an actual alarm clock (not your phone) or an app such as Alarmy if you do use your phone. Alarmy really works because I set it so I have to solve math problems before it turns off. It’s super annoying, but again, it works. 2) Get to bed on time. When you go to bed 8 hours before you need to wake up, you won’t be making excuses that you didn’t get enough sleep and press snooze. Plus, you will feel more rested and motivated to get out of bed if you go to bed at a set time. 3) Just do it. Don’t think about it. Don’t focus on your feelings and just turn on the light, get out of bed, and grab a cup of coffee.
6. Eat a healthy breakfast
I love talking about this one because breakfast is my very favorite meal! And the most important one too I’ve heard. I find that eating a healthy breakfast in the morning starts my day on an energetic and positive note. I’m not distracted about my empty stomach in class, and I’m not reaching for a quick snack to get me by until lunch which is usually not the healthiest option. I’ll often make a protein shake with fruit and spinach, or I’ll have a fried egg with toast, cheese, and avocado.
7. Lay out your outfit the night before
If I forget to do this, it’s honestly embarrassing how much time I spend the next morning staring at my closet fussing over what I should wear. End of story. Okay, moving on.
8. Listen to classical music when you’re studying
I stay focused better when I’m listening to classical piano on my Pandora station. It’s like queueing my brain to shut out outside distractions and be like, “okay, it’s actually time to study now.”
9. Take breaks
When your brain’s fried on a subject, don’t keep waisting time sluggishly moving through that subject. Move on to another or get up and refresh yourself for a bit. If I start getting really sleeping, I’ll plop down on the carpet and take a 20 minute nap. It would actually be interesting to count how many times I do that during the school year. It would be a very very high number I think.
Finally, you know the drill…
10. Don’t procrastinate and don’t multi-task!
That’s all I have for you folks! Now turn off your phone/computer and do something productive!