Contributed by Brittni Brown is a current graduate student at the University of Idaho who in her free time she enjoys a variety of outdoor activities including hiking, biking, and camping.
Life can be a busy place for many of us. Often times we are balancing a multitude of different activities ranging from a full class schedule, to a busy work environment, to any number of other outside commitments. More frequently than we care to admit, it is some combination of all three.
With all of these commitments pulling you in different directions, sometimes it can feel as though there isn’t enough time to complete everything that needs to be accomplished. Furthermore, maintaining relationships and spending time with family becomes a bit more of a rare occasion. Finding time for yourself in your day to day schedule can seem like a far off fantasy.
If this type of a schedule is reminiscent of yours, here are some tips and tricks that can help you keep your productivity up, complete your tasks, and most importantly enjoy the occasional bit of free time.
Organize Your Schedule and Stick to It
Heading down to the local dollar store and picking up a planner, or utilizing calendar tools on your phone is one of the best things you can do to help make sure all tasks are completed in a timely manner. Place your schedule somewhere where you will see it throughout the day, or set reminders and alerts that can help keep you on task. Doing so can help make sure you don’t get going on a project and miss an important meeting!
Additionally, if you are worried about not having free time, it can be a huge benefit to schedule in blocks of time where you are not working on classwork, work projects, or other addressing other major commitments. Life doesn’t stop when you are going back to school, working, or just super, super busy so don’t be ashamed to plan when you are going to the gym or when you will just relax. Treating these tasks with the same level of importance as work – something you don’t reschedule – will help you stick to doing them.
It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint
No matter what projects, classes, or other tasks you are working on, keep in mind that they likely are not things you can race through and be successful at. The children’s story of the tortoise and the hare is key here. You will do a far better, and more professional job if you give each task the amount of time it deserves. Scheduling can help you do just that.
The majority of successful marathon runners will tell you that it is essential to conserve your energy and not use it all at the beginning of the race, or else you will burn out quickly. The same logic holds true with maintaining productivity with a busy schedule. Try not to overplan, and space larger tasks out so your workload is more or less consistent rather than overloaded at the beginning or end.
Take a Breather
When you are super busy, it can be exceedingly easy to put off things that you enjoy in order to accomplish your tasks. You might find yourself saying things like ‘if I can get through this project then I can enjoy a relaxing break in a couple days.’ Although this is a useful motivator in some situations, it is definitely not a great habit to get into. Putting off relaxation or even short breaks in order to finish a task can actually drag out tasks longer and be a massive drain on your mental health.
In fact, taking breaks is an important part of what mental health experts call self-care. Performing self-care can do wonders for your mental and physical health; many individuals participating in self-care studies were found to get better nights of sleep and felt more positively about the direction of their lives. All of these things circle back to make us both more productive and efficient in our day to day tasks. By taking breaks you actually have a better chance of completing your tasks and feeling good about yourself afterwards.
Ultimately, if you are feeling the pinch of an excessively busy schedule there are a number of different ways to manage. In order to keep your productivity and motivation levels high over an extended period of time it will really help to organize a schedule. Furthermore, being sure to space out major tasks as much as possible and to allow yourself to take breaks will do wonders.
Now, go get things done!