Every school year starts with a clean slate. No matter how last year went, this is your chance to start fresh and make the most of your time and potential. If you feel like you tend to have a time getting (and staying) on task, here are some tips to help you boost your productivity and get through your massive to-do list.
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1. Invest in a planner you’ll actually use
A good planner is key to getting — and staying — organized. Buying a planner that doesn’t fit your needs is just as bad as not having one at all. It’s worse, actually, because now you’re not going to be productive and you wasted money. Don’t just pick the planner with the cutest cover; flip through the pages, see what features they have, and pick the one that works the way your brain works. If you’re willing to really splurge, look at planners like the Day Designer, that help you hyper-organize.
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2. Buy the right supplies.
The planner isn’t the only supply you need in your organization arsenal. Stock up on everything you need to make it through late-night study sessions and big projects. We’re talking post-its, paperclips, the whole nine yards.
3. Keep your workspace tidy.
Sure, a clean workspace might look and feel more organized, but there’s more to it than that. A messy desk is an excuse to procrastinate. You’ll still clean it up — you’ll just tidy when you have a paper due at 9 a.m. or a big final in a few hours. Don’t give yourself the excuse to procrastinate. Keep it neat at all times and your brain will have one less excuse when it’s desperate for reasons to delay getting to work.
4. Write down your goals.
Don’t just think about your goals. Physically write them down. According to a study conducted by researchers at Dominican University, writing your goals down greatly increases the likelihood that you’ll achieve them. For added motivation, put your written-down goals somewhere you’ll see them at the beginning of every day — like taped to your bathroom mirror. This little reminder will help keep you on track all year.
5. Audit your time.
Take a few days or even a week at the beginning of the school year and audit your time. It means exactly what it sounds like: Keep track of exactly how you spend your time. Note when you’re in class, when you’re doing homework, and when you’re being less productive — like scrolling through Instagram and falling into a Google wormhole. Look for chunks of time that you’re wasting and be conscious of those habits to avoid them in the future.
6. Experiment with productivity methods.
If your productivity needs a jump start, try out a productivity method, like the Pomodoro Technique, which helps you break up your time and tasks into manageable chunks.
7. Take structured breaks.
It’s important to stay on task, but it’s also important to give yourself a break from time to time. Plan breaks into your day so you don’t burn out and get totally derailed.
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