Everyone has a different working “style” - some people can work for twenty minutes at a time, some can work for hours without stopping, some can listen to music, some can’t - you get the idea.
I’m one of those people who likes to be organized, know exactly what I need to do, and have clear goals in mind. I like to have a time frame for everything I have to get done. I like lists, organization, and direction.
There are good and bad aspects of this part of my personality.
Let’s start with the bad stuff. With all of my strategic planning, getting off track can be magnified. Having such a clear vision of the future can leave me feeling like I failed when things don’t go as planned.
I’m not a “go with the flow” person. I guess that can serve me well, but it can also be a burden. I know there are a lot of people who are much better at going with the flow than I am, and it can definitely serve them well - I’m willing to bet they have less anxiety, and they’re a little more flexible about whether or not things are going their way.
There are good things, too.
Usually, things go fairly well, and I get things done and am productive. I enjoy the feeling of being productive and getting things DONE. My organization makes me feel more confident in the future and relieves my overwhelm because I have a plan.
Despite the challenges, I like to look at this aspect of my personality as a good thing because I’m also an optimist (no matter what those online quizzes tell me).
I love school.
Most kids don’t seem to be particularly fond of it, so I consider myself to be pretty lucky in that regard.
But it’s not all luck.
It’s partially my personality. Although I’m not absolutely in love with every class I take, there are definitely things that I genuinely enjoy learning, and I wouldn’t say that I dislike any of my classes, some of them are just hard (like science…).
The thing that I’m not particularly fond of? Homework. I don’t mind doing school in school, but taking it home can sometimes be a bit much.
I get a pretty decent amount of homework, and I take an extra class, Medical Problem Solving, with a program called Global Online Academy, so that adds a few hours of extra work every week. I also have extracurriculars like weight lifting and volleyball, which reduces the time that I have to do homework.
But lately, I’ve actually been okay with the amount of homework we’ve had. It’s not that the stuff we’re doing in class is getting any funner (because lemme tell you: it’s not). It’s the way that I’ve been handling the homework that has made the biggest difference.
With all of the stuff I have going on, it’s not easy to balance everything. That’s why giving myself more structure has helped me to be more productive lately.
Here are some of the tips that I've used to become more productive:
#1 - Make To-Do Lists Every Night.
I’ve figured something out about myself: if I don’t write it down, I won’t do it. That’s not always the case, but writing things down is POWERFUL.
I’ve recently started making a to-do list for the next day every night when I get in bed. Making it at night is great for a few reasons:
1) It helps relieve my anxiety about the next day. It helps me have a clear focus when I wake up the next morning; I know exactly what I need to do, and I don’t have to worry about forgetting my priorities the following day.
2) I have more time to make the list at night. If I wait until the morning, it’ll get pushed off because it’s not top priority, or I’ll rush it.
3) It gets me in bed on time. I like to be in bed by 9:30 every night - it doesn’t happen every single night. Having something that I know I need to do when I get in bed makes me more motivated to get in bed on time.
#2 - Reflect on your day.
My nighttime routine has become a beloved part of my day. It helps me wind down and get ready to go to sleep. One of the things I do every night is look at what I did - and didn’t - accomplish that day.
I look back on my goals and to-do’s of the day. I write down what I did accomplish; then, I write down what I didn’t accomplish, and I also like to write why I didn’t accomplish it so that I know what I need to do to make sure I do better in the future.
Having a journal that you keep beside your bed can help remind you to do this every night.
#3 - Set a Time Frame.
Estimate how much time you’re going to need to accomplish each task. This can help you plan any breaks you’re going to take, set aside the right amount of time, and keep yourself on-task. Set a timer for the amount of time you estimated, and if it’s taking well over that amount of time, ask yourself why and see if there’s anything you can do to speed up the process and work more efficiently.
#4 - Know Why.
Why do you want to do it? What is your motivation? Keep these things in mind when making your to-do list.
It’s important that you feel strongly about accomplishing whatever it is you need to do. Otherwise, you’re not going to have the motivation to do it in the first place. Be picky about what you put on your to-do list.
#5 - Get Enough Sleep.
Sleeping is sooo important. The difference between a sleep-deprived me and a well-rested me can be the difference between ultra productivity and a day of moping around getting nothing done.
I have a few posts on that topic that might be helpful - how to get to sleep (for anxious people) and how to make a nighttime routine.
#6 - Exercise.
Whether it's a short morning run or a mid-afternoon weight lifting session, I have found that exercise gives me better energy, focus, and productivity.
Even going on a quick walk around the block could help boost your productivity.
For all of my fellow busy folks, these tips are going to help you be more productive, manage your time better, and stay motivated. Whether it’s school work or something else that you need to do, time management skills and organization can go a long way and can make you a better, more efficient worker.
Know your strengths and weaknesses: can you listen to music while working? How often do you need to take breaks? Do you need some accountability? Get to know your strengths and weaknesses and implement these habits to help yourself get more DONE!
If you liked this post, make sure to check out my post on how to balance school, sports, & life.