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Monday, December 7, 2015

Productivity Tips

Y'all, I think I might have had one of the most productive weekends ever this past weekend.


*cheers self on*
I pretty much locked myself in the library from Friday afternoon until Sunday night, and although I gave up going to some fun holiday parties, I'm ok with that -  I don't feel incredibly stressed right now even though I have not one, not two, but three finals on Friday.

As such, I know many of you are heading into your "hell week" so to speak, so I wanted to share what worked for me in terms of productivity.

1. I did not turn my phone off
I hate feeling disconnected and my phone is often buzzing with messages from classmates with questions on assignments, my fellow council members, or just friends or family. I put my phone behind my computer and turned on the iMessage app on my laptop. This way, I could answer messages as needed, but I was not on social media aimlessly.

2. I basically moved into a spot in the library
I study best in the library. My room is too comfortable and has too many distractions for me between TV, friends on my hall, and being surrounded by all my stuff. I staked my claim at a table on the first floor (the floor that I most prefer because it isn't completely silent), and brought everything I could possibly need for a weekend full of studying.

3. I came prepared
Like I mentioned in my last point, I brought everything I could ever dream of needing, such as: extra pens/pencils, blank flash cards, extra notebook paper and computer paper, snacks (I made little snack bags for myself that I could grab out of my fridge. They each have a clementine, 1/4 cup cashews, and a stick of string cheese), tea bags, lip balm, an extra sweatshirt, headphones, sticky notes, my Fitbit charger (told ya I was prepared), and even my nail polish top coat (chipped nails drive me absolutely insane when I'm already stressed out. I get a little OCD about my nails when I'm in a stressful time of year).

4. I let myself take a break if I wanted to
I've seen a myriad of "study tips" posts that have various methods like study for 90 minutes, take a 15 minute break or study for 55 minutes, take a 5 minute break. This is too structured for me. I don't like the idea of having to adhere to a specific study schedule because it stresses me out if I miss an interval because a friend came up to talk about something or if I needed to go to the bathroom. If I felt like my brain needed a break, I'd let myself have it, and I felt a lot calmer knowing that I could bow out for a few minutes if I needed to.

5. I turned on a playlist with songs I knew
This may be a weird personal thing, but I cannot study to songs I do not know. I have to know the songs fairly well or else I'll spend the entire time actually listening to music instead of studying. The "Have a Great Day!" playlist on Spotify is one of my favorites - it's really long (8.5 hours!) and all the songs are positive and classic.

6. I made an extensive list of everything I wanted to accomplish that day
It didn't matter if the task was "print off readings" or "write 6 pages for EDUC 201." Anything that I wanted to get done got written down. This was helpful not only for remembering everything that I needed to do, but also for giving me a sense of satisfaction when I got to cross something off. Also, I would take "productive" study breaks by doing smaller tasks like returning a phone call or folding a load of laundry.

7. I cleaned up - a lot
Going off of my previous point, I also picked my room up. I feel a lot less anxious if I come home to a clean room, and so I made sure to put all my clothes away, make my bed, do all of my dishes, and organize my desk.

8. I made sure to run - and run hard.
It's no secret that running has never been (tbh probably never will be) my forte. However, I find it significantly easier to focus if I get some energy out. In addition to that, I feel less anxious if I work out. I guess what Elle Woods said about endorphins must be true! ;)

When I'm stressed out, I really let my OCD tendencies take over. If I want to clean something, I let myself go for it. If I need to go run, I go. I am also trying not to overload on caffeine this year - last semester, I drank over 128 ounces of coffee in a four-hour period, and I normally drink about 20 ounces a day. Needless to say, this made me feel horrible and actually made me a lot more anxious than I needed to be.

How are you handling finals? If you have any productivity tips, please leave them below! If you have finals or a big work project coming up, best of luck!

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xx, Victoria