Planning out the stress
Hi everyone, thanks for reading my first blog post! Hopefully, with the vaccine rollout underway, we can start to see the return back to normal university life (if you squint hard enough). But in the mean time, learning completely remotely is still on the cards. I wanted to talk about a few things that I have learned as a result of planning on my own during online learning, and how I’m going to take these techniques forward with me into the future.
The benefit of a plan: Oh, this is a good one, isn’t it? Don’t deny it, we all start every new term with excess motivation that this term we are going to try our absolute best. We tidy our rooms (hiding away messy folders from last term that remain unorganised) and even go as far as to buy new stationary (after all, who can study without a 24 pack of pastel highlighters?). The problem only comes after term begins. Carefully instigated plans get thrown out the window when it turns out that (oh no!) there isn’t enough time to do an hour of yoga every morning. Or when we realise that our self-set timetable means we don’t have time to do anything but sleep or study (nine hours of straight study time a day didn’t look that ambitious on paper??).
But isn’t a plan key for knowing what we have to do? Well, yes, but I’m going to change it to ‘reasonable plan’. A rubbish one is only going to set us up to fail. There’s a saying I really like, and it’s something along the lines of: First, there’s motivation, and when that fails, you have determination, and when that fails, it’s routine that will push you.
It really works, promise. The key thing to take away from it, though, is the ability to devise a reasonable plan at the beginning. I mean, you wouldn’t make yourself run 20k a day every day and hope that with enough determination it would make its way into your routine, because you’d find out pretty soon that it wasn’t feasible.
A trick for successful planning: Last term, I tried something a bit different. I didn’t give myself a timetable as such. Instead, I used a Kanban-type technique, to keep track of what needed doing. I also kept a calendar of tasks linked up to the Kanban, so I could see when things were due. For both of these techniques I used Trello (and one of its add-ons called Planyway). The main reason that it worked was because I had it open on my browser whenever I was doing work on my laptop (so like, a large portion of everyday). I updated it every time something new came up.
So, the reason it was so good was because it wasn’t a rigid structure that couldn’t be moved around (timetables can be more difficult to re-jig later), but it kept all of the relevant and upcoming things right there in front of me so they were always at the forefront of my mind. It was just an efficient way of quickly adding in a new task or deadline before I had time to forget it. By the way, I know I am talking about this in past tense, but it is the technique that I am still using now, and is probably saving my grade.
Another plus about putting all your to-dos into calendar tasks is that you can also factor in things outside work – like ‘go for walk’, or ‘Zoom with family’, which can be set as high priority, to make sure you don’t forget them.
And that really is it. This technique is one I am going to stick with, because I know it works for me, and I no longer spend too much time trying to devise the best timetable – only to discard it when something new pops up that doesn’t fit into it!
I hope this post has been helpful to some of you – I’m going to go and tick ‘complete’ on my task to write a blog post now. Bye!