How to get things done

March 1, 2010 at 3:00 am Leave a comment

In my last post, I talked about my six-week slump. I feel comfortable and caught up (minus a few posts that I have to make for English 402) with my school work now. But finding the motivation to buckle down and get this work done was difficult, to say the least. Throughout the weekend I constantly cursed myself as I sat down to catch up on my assignments, telling myself that had I just pushed myself to get these assignments done on time, I wouldn’t have to sacrifice my weekend. I feel that organization is important so that events like falling behind in class don’t happen. While I would have rather spent the weekend hanging out with my friends, there are a couple of things that I kept in mind to help me square away all of this extra work.

Don’t multitask.

It doesn’t work. The human brain isn’t able to focus on more than one thing at the time. So while you think you’re accomplishing more by multi-tasking, it actually takes longer because your brain is switching back and forth between ideas and tasks. By focusing your attention on one thing at a time, you’ll find that you complete assignments faster.

Do the tasks that you’re least looking forward to first.

If it’s between a five-page paper for the history class that you have little to no interest in, and a one page response to an article that you enjoyed reading, do the five-pager first. Accomplishing tasks that you know will be particularly difficult will give you a sense of accomplishment when everything is said and done, and make the one page response seem like a breeze. Putting off that five-page paper will only make completing it more arduous.

Prioritize and create a to-do list.

If you don’t know what you have to do, you’re more likely to forget. Before I settle in for a night of homework I create a list of what needs I need to finish, and then decide the order in which I’ll complete them (also known as prioritizing). I base the priority of an assignment depending on when the assignment is due, and approximately the time it will take me to finish it. Having everything written in a list form makes it easier for me to visualize what I need to do, and takes stress off of my mind, allowing me to focus on one task at a time. When I complete something, it feels great to either cross, or check it off of my list.

Live by the three D’s: drop, decrease or delegate.

For this I have a personal example. Wednesday is by far my busiest day of the week. After I’m finished with class at 3:15 I immediately get down to business with the Collegian making sure that I have everything I’ll need once I begin laying out the news section later that night. On one particular Wednesday I realized that I was supposed to be in three places at once: the Communication Center, Lambert Street and in an interview. I silently freaked out for a few moments before realizing that I had support around me to help me carry out these tasks. There was nothing that could be dropped, but I was able to decrease the work that I was doing and delegate to others. I called up a fellow editor of the Collegian who is in the class that I needed a picture of and she was more than happy to help by taking a few quick snapshots. I quickly called another friend that I knew had free time and asked her to take a walk over to Lambert Street and take some pictures of the street to go along with an article about recent break-ins in the neighborhood. As I walked over to Holroyd to have an interview with the Dean of Arts and Science I had a clear mind, knowing that I had less on my plate and that everything was taken care of.

Dropping, decreasing and delegating is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s having the ability to recognize when you have too much on your plate. When it came to catching up on school work, it was all about dropping the assignments that I am not receiving a grade for. It’s a difficult thing to own up to, but I came to accept the fact that in the end, I do lose out. One particular example of this is some work that I need to do for my legal writing class. Each week we’re required to write response to some form of legal writing, as well as do exercises that focus on bettering our legal writing by re-writing poorly written sentences. I am not going to completely drop these guidelines, but instead simply read the guidelines and not complete the exercises. The weekly guidelines are for my benefit, but at a time like this, I realize that I just can’t do it all.

I picked up these tips from a Cosmopolitan article (I don’t remember the article title or which month it was published). I cut out their time-saving tips and taped them into my Moleskine as helpful reminders. I’m hoping to start this new week fresh and new and get myself back on the path of organization.

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Entry filed under: tools.

The six week slump How other people stay organized

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“Becoming Organized” in a nutshell.

Anais Nin once said, “Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.”

All I am is someone who is in the process of becoming organized, wanting to share my journey of the states I am going through. I like to think of it as lending a hand to the less organized. Giving personal testimony to what works for me and what doesn’t, helpful hints, tricks and tips, and why becoming organized was so important to me.

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