Managing Time and Getting Things Done
This year is the first time I have ever had to study at home. I’ve always done the majority of my work at school or on campus in an effort to keep my home as a space to relax. But, with the pandemic, I have had to adapt and learn to not only work and relax in the same places, but to ensure that my schedule fits with the schedules of my family.
This is by no means a unique situation though. Everyone’s been thrown into working from home since the pandemic hit, and even starting University means adapting to new learning environments and schedules. So I thought I’d talk through how I’ve adapted and some of the things I’ve done to help me keep up with my work (and ensure that I take time to relax too).
The biggest habit that is helping me this term is setting “working hours” and having someone around the house keeping me accountable. At the beginning of this term, I decided that I would study between 9am and 6pm everyday (with room for flexibility should something turn up) and told my family that this was the case. Setting these times has helped me because I know that during those times I should be working and then I can relax and do anything else I want when I’m done. Having other people know when I plan to work is also helpful because it means that they are keeping me accountable (if I’m not working when I said I will, they ask why, so I need to have a good reason).
During my working hours, I put my tablet and my phone in a different part of the room so that I can’t absentmindedly check them. This has cut out a large part of my procrastination because I used to spend a lot of time checking my phone without even realising it.
I also make sure to take breaks when I need it and to split up my work so I don’t get bored doing any one thing for too long (my favourite break is when I go downstairs to cuddle with my cat at 11am!) If I’m not feeling motivated to start my work after having a break, I will use the pomodoro technique or spend a minute moving about to try to get some more energy.
I have also created a set space where I do my work and nothing else – this is really helpful for getting in the right frame of mind! It doesn’t have to be a different room, a desk in your bedroom or the dining room table can work just as well – but make sure that there are certain differences between when you work and when you don’t (eg: sit in different seats to work and eat).
It’s also important to remember that managing your time and reducing procrastination is different for everyone. For example, I know that if I start watching a new TV show or reading a new book, I will end up spending too much time on those activities so I have made the decision to not watch/read anything new on my own during term time.
If you want to work out what specific actions will really help you in the fight against procrastination, I would recommend tracking yourself over the next week and noting down when you procrastinate, what you did to procrastinate and what prompted the action in the first place. This is a great way to notice repeating issues such as always checking your phone for 10 minutes every time you get a notification. You can then start building habits that tackle the most common reasons for procrastination (like turning your phone on silent).
If you’re interested in more tips to improve time management and productivity, there are lots of resources on the internet (just try not to fall down the rabbit hole of procrastinating by trying to learn how not to procrastinate…). Some YouTubers who I find have particularly useful videos around this topic are: Thomas Frank, Matt D’Avella and Ali Abdaal. But there are loads more so it’s definitely worth exploring if you’re interested and have the time!