What better person to write about productivity than our very own productivity Queen, our admin superstar, Jaye Gugenberger. Jaye is a well-oiled machine that does a lot of the behind the scenes work here at BRHYHTMIC, to make sure, at least on the outside we look like we know what we are doing…
Productivity and Procrastination – and when to decipher which of the two is consuming your day. It’s hard to come to terms with the fact that just because you are busy, does not mean you are being productive. We should not have to be working around the clock in order to get our tasks done. If you use my following tips, you will hopefully start to use your time more deliberately and effectively by eliminating wasted hours.
My first tip to ensuring that your time is being used to your best benefit is to plan. So simple right? Well yes, it is. To have your week or day laid out in front of you can eliminate being strayed off the path of productivity to the path of procrastination. It enables you to have a guide to come back to when those daily distractions tempt their way into your work.
So how do I plan? Well, I lay out all the tasks that I have to do for that day or week and then order them in ways of urgency and importance. Those that are both urgent and important are the ones that I will complete first and put all my focus onto. These are usually assignments or exam study. Those tasks that are urgent but are not so important are usually the ones I do at one time. For example: if there’s washing to do and my room needs tidying, I will put the washing on and clean up while the machine runs its course. I’ll then come back and hang the washing up whilst running over the study I did previously in my head.
Planning enables you to use the time you have delegated to work down to the last second, so that when you finally get a chance to relax and reward yourself are not stressed or focussed on the work still left to do.
An app that may become your saving grace is one for your computer called iProcrastinate. I used this all throughout my schooling. Basically, you can add a task, it’s due date, any notes, your progress level and then its level of priority. The app will then categorise the tasks for you and you can even choose to put them into different sub-categories like school, chores, extra-curricular, etc.
Next tip: when you are in the middle of highly important assignment or practice; eliminate all distractions! This includes turning off your phone, being alone and in a comfortable environment. We are all different and someone’s place of concentration may be completely opposite to your own. I enjoy having a large desk where I can access everything in a space that has a lot of natural light. I do not work well with artificial lights during the day. You may, however, find you’re more efficient sitting in bed with your laptop open and music playing softly in the background. Over time you will figure out what works for you.
If you don’t trust yourself while studying, there are a plethora of apps that block the internet, social media, emails and texts. Self-Control was one I used regularly during high school.
One of the most important lessons I have learned over my academic career is that; the anticipation and worry of something looming is close to ALWAYS worse than the actual task itself. As humans our mind can often be the strongest manipulator of reality. A worry that was initially small can turn into an apocalyptic situation that seems unsolvable- all through the act of over-thinking and over-analysing.
If you are stressed about an assignment you were just given, don’t put it off. Don’t let it become something that will remain in the back of your mind torturing you. As soon as you feel doubt and stress come on; get that assignment up instantly. Alleviate the opportunity for you to create an overpowering issue. Just read your task sheet, break it down and plan it out. Nothing is ever as bad or as scary as it seems.
This is essentially what procrastination stems from. The worry and dread of completing something we would prefer not to be doing resulting in us completing other things which are distracting and unnecessary. Again, being busy is not being productive. So, don’t put something off if it makes you stressed; fight it head on and you will be surprised how much better completing something feels than doing something irrelevant does. Don’t think; just DO.
Finally, when you plan out your day, it is imperative to make time for rest, rewards and snacks! I found working hard in 2-hour blocks without stopping then rewarding myself with a half hour to an hour break was most productive. It enabled me to spend my working hours being diligent and focussed without breaking a thought process. It also gave me something to look forward to that usually came around super-fast.
Spending hours on end will drain your brain and will most likely bring down the quality of your work. So, give yourself breaks, eat to replenish your energy then get back to it. Mixing in things that you love with things that you would rather not be doing, makes the whole process more enjoyable. It is natural to want a reward or a treat when it’s deserved, so go easy on yourself, and give credit where credits due.