My university experience has been packed full of events, part-time jobs, societies, competitions, the gym, projects and let’s not forget academics. In the busyness of my university life, I have had to create systems and habits that enabled me to thrive under my schedule. Here are some of the things that have helped me the most:
An Organised Calendar
It all starts with an organised calendar. I have different calendar categories depending on the type of activity it is. This has given me a very visual representation of my time and allowed me to not forget things and be more accountable. I have also learnt that not every moment needs to be planned, just ones I need to remember and time that is essential for me to achieve my goals.
Google calendar is my favourite platform because it gives me the most flexibility and I honestly think it looks the prettiest! I have also gotten into the habit of checking my calendar frequently so I do not need to set as many reminders. One tip I have is to schedule to-dos into your calendar, that way you have everything you need to do on one platform. Most calendar platforms allow you to put more information about the appointment. You can use that space to put more details about what needs to be done with regards to the task.
First things First
Throughout most of my university experience, I have been guilty of my time commitments not matching my priorities, that is, I have sometimes not spent enough time on my academics which is one of my biggest priorities to do something else like going to the gym, which is important to me but not as important as my academics. Due to this, I have started thinking with a ‘First things First’ mentality where I apportion time for my most important things such as my academic and work and all my other passions must fit around those. Of course, there is a great deal of flexibility I have to adopt but what this has created is a better culture of think about my priorities. I still fail at this quite a lot but believe I have gotten better.
Learning what makes you Productive
It’s great having a calendar but it doesn’t work if I don’t do work at the time I have set out to. I sometimes struggle with the motivation and concentration required to do what is needed but I have found some tools that help me. The first thing is my study environment, I thrive in study environments with a lot of natural light but I have recently struggled to find them in the library due to refurbishments and my access to the post-graduate study space being revoked. I have experienced the negative effect that something seemingly ‘small’ has on my productivity so its important to find your needs and address them for more productive study/work sessions.
To enable me to focus better whilst studying I use an app called Forest, I grow a forest as long as I am not using my phone. This app has really helped me kill a bad habit of picking up my phone and scrolling mindlessly, it has also given me accountability as to how long I actually study for in my allocated study time. My Forest accompanied by a classical music playlist has really improved my focus even when I am not around natural light.
I have found out that I work better under pressure. I have tried countlessly to start things earlier but find that I still drag it out to the last minutes. Even though this is seen as a negative trait I produce my best work under pressure. A method that has helped focus the way I do when close to a deadline is a ‘faux deadline’; for example, I can have coursework due to on Friday but plan to meet with my classmate on Monday to show each other our completed work. This means I am accountable for finishing on or before Monday and can, therefore, harness the same energy without it being right before the deadline. The benefit of this is that there is more time to refine the work I have done.
Organisation and productivity is an ongoing battle for me so I hope this has been helpful!