For some reason, time seems to slip away from everyone. So often being unproductive seems to play a large part in hindering what could be time well spent. One of the worst feelings is getting to the end of the day and feeling like you didn’t complete anything worthwhile or having a full to-do list right before bed time. After spending the better part of 2016 trying to figure out ways to hack the system and live as if I have more than 24 hours in a day I thought I would share some of my most helpful tips with all of you.
Keep a Planner
For some people keeping a planner means having a beautiful Erin Condren where they keep up with not only all their obligations, but all their memories. For a long time, I had a similar system that I absolutely loved (and highly recommend if you have the time). I ultimately ended up converting to a digital planner for the purposes of saving time and money but I still keep my old planners around because of all the wonderful memories they hold. This past year I streamlined my planning process and now keep all of my appointments in
This past year I streamlined my planning process and now keep all of my appointments in color-coded calendars on my iPhone. For homework, sorority to-do’s (such as remembering to record study hours or pay dues), and work related tasks I use an app called myHomework. myHomework allows me to create a class schedule (I also added in my sorority, my internship, and my part time job so I could keep to-do lists for those things in the same place) and reminds you when you have tasks coming up that need to be completed. It also lets you prioritize certain tasks or assignments and categorize them by type.
While the initial setup can take up to 30 minutes and it takes a few days to get in the habit of using a digital planner, once you have automized the system to your specifications having a digital planner takes far less time (and money) than paper planners. Plus, if you turn on notifications (either with sound or on your device’s dashboard) you have little reminders throughout the day for everything you need to get done.
Write Things Down
Back in September, I did one of the best things I possibly could have done for analyzing my productivity, I started writing everything down. Originally it started as a way to keep track of my practice time to ensure I was spending enough time working towards my major but it quickly became a place to keep track of all of my productivity as well. Starting from when I wake up to when I go to sleep I write down absolutely everything I do in a day. When I eat, when I run errands, when I do homework, when I watch tv, when I blog, etc. It only takes a few minutes at the start and end of each task to write everything down and at the end of the day or week I can look back at what I accomplished and look for areas where I could have been more efficient.
Over the course of this past semester, my notebook (which I now carry with me everywhere I go) became a place for me to hold other important information as well. Lists for work, notes from classes that I would also need and want after graduation, short paragraphs summarizing important things that happened so I can look back on them later, and much more. I also started copying study guides by hand into my notebook so they were all in the same place (and to get the added bonus of committing things to memory by handwriting) so I could study anytime or anywhere.
Find a Hobby that Makes you Feel Accomplished
Having something you are passionate about that also makes you feel like you completed in an important task can really set the tone for compounding your success. Blogging is a big one I advocate for because it gives you a creative outlet to express yourself while also having the potential to turn a hobby into a job.
While blogging most certainly isn’t for everyone there are tons of other hobbies out there that can give you the same sense of satisfaction. I personally love things like practicing music that isn’t required for school, knitting, painting, and reading because they are all things that don’t have to take up a lot of your time if you don’t have much time to devote to them, but can also turn into great weekend afternoon activities when you have a lot of time to kill. Plus when you have a finished product to produce at the end of a period of time that seemed just like fun relaxation you have an extra thing to feel proud about at the end of the day.
Implement the 2-Minute Rule
One of the hardest things to do when you feel like you are running out of time is to keep up with the little tasks that all seem to compound when left undone. One of my favorite ways to keep things from piling up is by using the 2-Minute Rule. The concept is super simple, if it takes less than 2 Minutes to complete do it right away instead of adding it to your to-do list. One of the most rewarding ways to see this in action is by using it to keep your house or apartment clean. Some of the tasks that I most often neglect (and need to make it onto my “2 Minute Tasks” list) are: loading the dishwasher after I eat, throwing away the empty coke can on the coffee table, taking out the trash, making the bed, wiping the crumbs off the counter while cooking. There are hundreds of things that can be improved by implementing the 2-Minute rule (not just cleaning) so get creative and see what you come up with, and then share in the comments how it has helped you.