Hey friends! As I am deep in the throes of school chaos, I wanted to share some things have learned that are helping me to stay on top of my work as much as possible. Hopefully these help you too!
- Form habits
Habit forming is such an important factor in productivity. By forming habits, you are essentially reducing your to-do list by turning tasks to be checked off into assumed checkpoints in the rhythm of your day. For example, if my goal is to wake up at 6:30 and spend time with the Lord each morning, I may write that on my to-do list for a period of time, but as it becomes part of my daily rhythm it no longer requires thought and I am able to focus my productive energy on non-habitual tasks.
- Minimize decisions
This tip flows out of habit forming. Decision fatigue is real, y’all. I have never felt the effects of being exhausted from decision making quite like I have in the past year. Between school, relationships, work, and planning for the future I am in a stage of life that is riddled with major decisions. Deciding what to eat for breakfast or what I’m going to wear in the morning can feel so overwhelming when my brain is already taxed with so many other decisions, and what should take just a second or two to determine ends up taking much longer. Simple things like laying my clothes out the night before with my Bible and journal so it is all ready to go for me, and deciding what I will eat for breakfast ahead of time helps to reduce the time I spend thinking about those things when I wake up. Sometimes I may even set out non-perishable ingredients for my breakfast or pre-prepare my coffee! These little things make a big difference in de-cluttering my brain so I can focus on the big tasks.
- Break big tasks into easily achievable steps
This is so important. Sometimes I write the big task on my to-do list and when I come to it later I feel instantly anxious and stressed about how I will accomplish it. By pre-dividing big tasks into smaller steps, I give myself a game plan to divide-and-conquer the big thing in a manageable way. This also helps me to combat my procrastinating tendencies!
- Make realistic to-do lists
Part of breaking big tasks into smaller steps means knowing how many of those steps you should assign yourself each day. I am notorious for writing myself an overly ambitious to-do list and feeling discouraged when I only am able to check off half the list at the end of the day. Productivity is such a mind game, part of playing the game is setting yourself up to succeed! Set yourself up for success by only giving yourself a list that you KNOW you can achieve. Let yourself have that victory! It will provide you with the motivation to get even more accomplished on the next day.
- Plan for rest!
Write these things in your planner: Go to the park. Read. Take a walk. Nap. Drink a cup of tea.
Really. Just do it. Any of those things or whatever else might be your version of rest. I have started “assigning” myself the task of getting ready for bed. Not just brushing my teeth and crashing, but actually taking off my makeup and moisturizing my face, applying essential oils, lighting a scented candle and reading for a bit to relax before I fall asleep, etc. If I don’t tell myself to do these things, I won’t do them, but forcing myself to slow down in these ways majorly amps up my productivity later because I feel so much more refreshed for having had that time of relaxation! Telling yourself to take a break is not a crime.
- Here’s a free bonus tip: Don’t forget your “tada” list!
This has been a GAME CHANGER for me! Some days my to-do list just doesn’t happen. Life happens and things don’t always go the way I planned. On these days it is so easy to feel depressed, but I have to remember that just because I didn’t accomplish everything on my to-do list doesn’t mean I didn’t accomplish anything. In fact, if I make a list of all the things I DID accomplish, it often is longer than my original to-do list! Making tada lists helps me to see that my days aren’t wasted even when they don’t go the way I originally planned and that is such a valuable thing.