I'm a worrier. No, not a warrior, but a worrier. Stress is probably a part of my personality by now. This school year, I've been trying to work on handling the stress better, and so far, it's been working quite well, but I'm feeling a wave of stress lurking in the distance. Luckily for me, I finished my first round of mid-terms before fall break, but unfortunately for me, the second round has already begun. After this, I'm flying over to the west coast for Thanksgiving break (provided I manage to get myself to the airport, through it, and onto the plane) and after that I'll be back for finals. Prepare for battle!
START YOUR DAY RIGHT // Even if you aren't a morning person, you gotta admit that it's relatively free from distractions, and thus is the optimal time to be productive. Batch all the mundane tasks together and do them at the start of the day, because the easy repetitive stuff will get the ball rolling. If you really can't bear mornings, then just start as early as you can and do your best to keep away from distractions: disable notifications, turn your phone on airplane mode, and place it face down. If you don't enough self-control, download it! Yup, that's right. You can now download Self-Control! How it works is you set up a blacklist of distracting websites, and anything on that list will be blocked while the app is running. Or, you may opt to use the whitelist, which is the opposite of the blacklist: only websites on that list will be available while the app is running. However, personally I think that the second option is a little risky, because once you start the app, you won't be able to change your blacklist/whitelist until time is up. You won't be able to quit the app either (until the time is up), and even if you restart your computer, the app will continue running (I've tried). Of course, it would be best to start your day completely offline and to plan things on paper where there are less distractions. When it's time to leave the house, try to leave for everything five minutes earlier than expected. This way you're less likely to arrive in a frazzled state of mind. If you're one of those people who take forever to get ready to leave the house, make a "leave the house" mixtape and try to leave the house by the time the mixtape finishes playing. Even if you don't start your day exactly how you planned it to go, there are still ways to save it: how to save a sh*tty day, how to restart a bad/annoying/unproductive day.
EFFICIENCY IS KEY // To wake up early, you not only need to sleep early, but you also need to get the right kind of sleep. Learn about sleep cycles and rest when you need to. Don't wear yourself out. There's no point in studying if the information just goes in one ear and out the other. Spare fifteen minutes from every hour to get out of your chair and walk around. Make time to exercise. It can be as simple as walking everywhere or taking five minutes in the morning to stretch and breathe. If you're feeling anxious, pinpoint what's making you nervous, write it down, focus on breathing, get moving, and maintain perspective. Remember that life is more than getting good grades in school. If what you usually do to make your day better doesn't work, try something different and let good deed doing bring you joy squared. For me, all I really need is to get sleep, though sleep is understandably hard to come by, especially for a college student. To maintain energy throughout the day, we need as many sleep hacks as we can get! Especially when you're finding it difficult to focus, toiling through textbooks that are meaningless to you can be a very hard task. Sometimes after I finish reading a whole page of information, I still have to re-read it two or three more times, because absolutely nothing is processing. Spreeder helps increase your reading speed, and in a way boosts your alertness (at least for me). All you have to do is copy and paste the text onto the website, and then it will show you the text one word at a time at a speed you set. On the other hand, sometimes all you need is to slow down; soak up Sundays, keep in touch with friends, hold simple evenings, and BREATHE.
DEFINE YOUR WORKSPACE // Ideally, I would do my homework in a coffee shop every day after school, and maybe even over the weekends, but winter is a'coming and biking to Starbucks isn't very practical. If you have a corner to spare, you could consider making a DIY cafe, but I have a hunch that us college students don't have even that. Although studyspo sometimes makes me uneasy, I must admit that a great surrounding, colorful pens, and pretty stationary really does brighten my day. If you're like me and you love working in coffee shops but can't bring yourself to actually go there, recreate the coffee shop ambiance with Coffitivity. This is an especially great noise generating website for people who sing along to songs and so are unable to work with music, or are heavily distracted by things happening around you. I recommend having a warm cup of coffee as well, just to boost the coffee shop experience. If you'd prefer to have more options, Noisili and Soundrown also provide great customizable background noises. If anything other than white noise distracts you, use the White Noise Player. If all you want is to chill out, Calm down. For a classy experience, *insert like a sir meme* open these three tabs at the same time: one, two, three. Once the mood is set, whichever one you may choose, declutter your workspace. Stay tidy and organized, but also accept a little clutter and mess. Have inspiring photos laying around for moments when you feel completely brain dead. Work with a friend who is also working. Sometimes all you need to do is talk it out. If things really aren't working out, experiment with a change of location or reimagine your workspace and make it suck less.
RECLAIM TIME // We all have the same hours in a day. You may not ever have "enough" time, but everyone has the same amount, so no complaining (no time for it anyway). It's what you do with it that counts. Let no minute go to waste! Create a routine and write your to-do list the night before. Prioritize effectively focusing on three direct and achievable goals per day. Show it to a friend to keep yourself accountable. Set a time limit to some tasks, and don't forget to set a stop time. Don't overwhelm yourself, learn to say no, and don't be afraid to ask for help. If possible, designate no meeting Wednesdays, which will allow you to take a break in the middle of the week, but will also allow you to work without interruptions. Single-task at your desk, but also consider doubling up (i.e. have a quick meeting while walking over to a coffee shop for a mini-break). Schedule tight, because if you give yourself less time, it'll take less time to accomplish, but be reasonable. Listen to educational podcasts while you commute. We spend so much time waiting for things like classes/meetings to start and public transportation to arrive. Reclaim these unexpected bits of time. Carry around a book or magazine to read during these waits. If there's something you can do in two minutes, do it right away and only handle it once. Develop a 30 second habit, and make the most out of your last five and first five minutes of the day. Be decisive; when you're having trouble making decisions, flip a coin. Most importantly, work on something you're passionate about. Lunch time is sacred you-time: time to eat healthy food, journal, read blogs, people watch, nourish your soul, be inspired, be creative, be silly, be happy.
YOU'RE ONLY HUMAN // AND YOU'RE ABSOLUTELY FRIGGEN AWESOME. Keep track of your achievements. You could use the Seinfeld X technique, or you could use my personal favorite method, which I borrowed from Nicole: construct your own Tetris grid, and every time you accomplish something, color in a tetromino. Reward yourself when you do well, and accept yourself when you don't do so well. Here are ten inspirational quotes to make you feel better about not getting anything done today. For the days you really aren't feelin' it, craft an emotional emergency plan to pull out, including things such as but not limited to who to call, what to do, and where to go. If there is one thing you remember from this post, remember to BELIEVE. The time you spend worrying about how screwed you are could be better spent actually reviewing the material. Don't psych yourself out and don't give up.
Actually, you know what? A warrior I shall be, a worrier no more! Time to kick donkey butt!
Good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favor. *cue mockingjay whistle*