A lot of us spend a lot of valuable time doing a bunch of stuff. We measure productivity and success by quantity (or in my case the number of boxes with a black check through them).We get a lot done, but it’s not important.
I don’t think we were meant to be spread so thin and chase so many things. I’m after a quality life, not a quantity life. I want a life of direction, focus, and passion.
With that being said,
here are three ways to get less (but more important) stuff done.
Before you try any of these three suggestions, make a list of what you do each day. Identify the things in your life that are stealing your time and taking up creative energy that could be better used elsewhere. I bet this list will surprise you and I’m sure it will provide you with direction for where you want to go.
1. Get up early.
Eww. I know. It’s not fun. I used to swear by the fact that I worked best at night and was the farthest from a morning person. This semester I’ve been forced to wake up at 5:30-6 each morning and I’ve changed my mind. It’s not always the most comfortable thing to do, but waking up even just 30 minutes earlier than your used to can change your perspective and keep you motivated. When you feel productive you’ll want to be even more productive. If you want to do something great-somthing that no one else is doing-you have to take action and you have to get a head start.
Start small. Start by getting up 15 minutes earlier than you’re used to and increase it each week. The next week 30 minutes. Then 45, then an hour. Soon you’ll be seeing how early you can get up. Maybe. If so kudos to you.
Be disciplined. Make yourself turn off your phone and read a book before bed. It will help you relax and fall asleep sooner, making it easier to hit the alarm off early the next morning instead of hitting snooze.
Stick to it. You have to be consistent for your body to get used to a new sleep schedule. You need a few sleep in days here and there, but your body will thank you if you make it a habit to stick to the same schedule.
2. Don’t just plan your day, prioritize your week
List the things that must get done, then the activities you want to get done, and finally list what you would consider a “bonus.” Every Sunday, plan out your week. If you’re a college student like me, assignments can often be overwhelming and it’s easy to miss something because you simply forgot. By planning and prioritizing your entire week, you’ll be able to manage your time more wisely. Set out your priorities and your goals for what you want to accomplish at the beginning of the week and you’ll have a gameplan for what you need to do each day to make those happen.
Set aside an hour or so on Sunday afternoon to organize and prioritize your week. Not everything has to be on a schedule, but include important assignments, meetings, appointments, and commitments.
Put it on paper. Some people may prefer an app, but I find it useful to see my week on paper. With details. And check-boxes. Grab a cute agenda or planning book to keep yourself organized.
3. Quit trying to multi-task
No matter how good you think you are at multi-tasking, I can guarantee you are better at single-tasking. Our brains weren’t designed to do a thousand things at once. You will be significantly more productive if you fully focus on what’s in front of you instead of spreading your attention out over a bunch of stuff. It’s a challenge to keep your brain from wandering and stay on task but it’s worth it.
Shut your phone off or put it away. I’ve started implementing this in a few different areas and I’ve found that it’s helped not only with productivity but with my concentration level as well. When you’re driving-put it in your glove box or purse. When you’re sitting in class, put it in your backpack pocket. When you’re writing content or completing an assignment, set it aside and put it on silent.
Clear your mind of anxiety and focus on what is in front of you. Before you start any project, write down anything that you’re worrying about. Get it out of your mind and onto paper so you can focus on the task in front of you.
Set a timer. Once the timer is up, move on to your next task, assignment, or project. This way you can plan how much time you will need and be wise about how you use that time.
bottom line: identify what’s stealing your time, get rid of it, and make room for what really matters. everything that is uncomfortable in life is making you more like the person you want to be. embrace discomfort and discipline. decide you can live without mediocre.