Throughout most of my life, and especially throughout college, I have always found ways to be unproductive.
I can remember the times in college when I would stay up late, at least till 4 am (not sure what I was doing every night) and get no work done in the library.
I would sit there and stare at my work and say to myself, “I’ll get to it later today.”
Yet I would miss that important assignment, or fail to email my professors about something relevant to class.
Thankfully I have managed to grow a little bit since then, and I am more productive now than I have ever been.
As I grew, I learned a few productivity tricks that I would like to share with you today. They may not be groundbreaking, but I hope they’ll help you in some way.
1. Planning, planning, planning.
The first thing you should do every morning (or the night before) is to plan out your day, even your week in advance. Writing a To-Do List and setting some goals will go a long way towards making you more productive.
First, you can feel better about yourself already because you’ve done something. Even if it is only writing down what you want and need to accomplish.
This leads me to the second point,
2. Choose the easiest tasks first.
After you’ve created your task list and set your goals, choose the tasks which seem easier and complete those first.
Completing easy tasks first means will provide you with the energy and momentum to completing the other, more difficult or time-consuming tasks.
I’ll groggily start my day by creating a To-Do List, working on blog posts, and writing emails.
After all that, I’ll be feeling so energized that I can go ahead and write that boring 15 page paper on Medieval Europe (ugh).
3. Constantly ask yourself if you are using your time wisely.
This is a biggie. It’s very easy to get distracted, especially when you’re using a computer. Trust me, I’m a college student.
Sometimes I’ll check my email, which will lead me to Facebook, then to Twitter, and then I’m reading something from TechCrunch, and then I’m watching online video.
Don’t let this happen to you!
Ask yourself if you would be better served by working on that short story, or writing that blog post.
You can always check your Facebook and Twitter later, and your email is definitely not going anywhere.
4. Take Breaks
This is another biggie.
I go to Duke and then are an abundance of kids who work extremely hard all the time. Some of these kids will study for literally hours on end, or work on an assignment for days.
I can’t do that. And neither can most people.
You need a break because let’s face it; most of the things you have on your To-Do List feel like work. And who wants to do work for 5 hours straight.
So give yourself a break, and do something relaxing or rewarding.
Read, or check your Facebook or your Twitter.
Just remember to keep your breaks relatively short (10-15 mins), because it will be hard to start back up again if they’re too long!
5. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get to every item on your To-Do List.
I sometimes fall into this trap. I’ll look at my To-Do list and I’ll have completed only 5 of the 7 tasks I wanted to accomplish that day. And I’ll be miserable.
But then I remember that I completed 5 tasks today that I needed to complete, and the other 2 weren’t really pressing anyways. I can complete them tomorrow.
But that doesn’t mean you should settle for mediocrity.
You should try to complete every task on your list!
Just understand that it’s okay if you don’t.
And now the TWO tools I use to be productive everyday!
The first is called Evernote. You may have heard of the service or the company. Basically Evernote is a note taking program. That’s it.
“What’s so special about a simple note taking program?” you ask.
Well, I didn’t list it’s most important feature.
With Evernote, you can download the program to all your devices – laptop, desktop, netbook, smartphone or table – and then your notes are automatically synced across all those platforms.
So when I go to campus for the day and leave my laptop at home, I can still access my To-D0 List from my netbook and do work on campus.
The second service I use is DropBox. Since I have so many mobile devices, it would be incredibly annoying to constantly update all my files on each device.
So I use DropBox, which is a cloud-based file storage service.
You simply download DropBox to whatever device you are using, add your documents, and then they’re synced across all your computers! Viola!
So those are Five tips and Two tools that I use to be productive everyday.
Have you been productive today?
What are you waiting for?!