📑 What To Do When You’ve Got A Lot To Do ðŸ“‘

//This is a pretty long and wordy one folks!\\

It’s just been one of those days where I’ve had too much to do and too little time – in fact it’s been one of those weekends. I’ve barely moved from my desk apart from to do the absolutely necessary chores like washing up and bathroom breaks. The past two days I have worked at my desk, eaten at my desk and worked some more at my desk.

All of this is because I start back at college on Tuesday and it’s now Sunday and I’m still swamped in work that needs handing in on the first day. Now I know what you’re all thinking – it must be because you have poor time management skills or you would have got it done ages ago! I suppose yes it is partly because my time management has not been great the past couple of weeks but the situation is not helped by a few things, namely:

A) I was away for the first six weeks of the Summer holiday (Technically the first two weeks I was away were still term time but it was a school led trip so eh)

B) This left me with two weeks of Summer to do all my work

C) The school website and resources has been down all Summer

D) My teachers emailed me A LOT of work quite late on

Gosh if I don’t stop listing there this post is going to turn into one big moan, but hopefully you get my point. The work I’ve had to try and get through this weekend includes: nine essays and about ten pages of A3 sketchbook work. Fun! Not.

So how have I been managing to get it all done?

First of all – discipline, without it you aren’t going to get anything done or if you do it will probably be 90% procrastination, 10% work. I didn’t want to do the work, in fact I was extremely tempted to just put Gilmore Girls on and forget about it – but in the long run I would only have been hindering myself. Turning up to the first day back without my work will not be a good start to the academic year, it will give the wrong impression to my teachers and classmates and make it seem as though I don’t care. Which I really do! I just have been really tight on time this Summer. So:

1. Write down why you need to complete the tasks, make it brief so you don’t spend too much time thinking about it! Maybe you need to complete them to meet a work deadline, or so you can go out later on in the week, or maybe just so you can feel like you’ve achieved something. It doesn’t matter what the reason is or where you write it, just get it down.

Set up a designated area, whether it be at your desk, on the dining room table or in the garden shed find somewhere peaceful and cosy to get started. If your tasks are things you have to physically complete, such as house chores, make sure you are wearing something comfortable that’s not restrictive. This applies to things such as writing essays where you’re sat down too but it’s especially important if you’re going to be moving around. Clear your area, making sure anything that isn’t completely necessary for the task(s) being undertaken is out of the way. You’re probably going to be here for a while so make sure it is well ventilated and has a good amount of natural lighting where possible. I chose the living room this weekend and sat in the chair by the door as it means anyone walking past to get to any of the downstairs room can see my laptop screen and remind me to get back on task if they see me getting distracted by social media.

2. Choose your working area carefully. If you’re stuck somewhere dim, un-comfy and isolated the chances are you’ll be much less productive than you could be.

Next find some paper and write down exactly what you need to do, if you don’t know exactly look it up or message someone. Make sure you are completely clear on what each task entails and if tasks need breaking down into smaller sections make yourself a spider diagram with branches coming off and forming smaller task groups. Not only will this give you a reference sheet for what you need to do, it will also be a good motivator to continue working later on when you can look back and see how much you’ve already ticked off.

3. Clearly display tasks to complete. Bright colours might help distinguish one task from another but don’t bother spending time on making it look too fancy.  As soon as you’ve completed all your tasks you’re probably going to want to throw it straight in the bin anyway!

Make sure you have the correct equipment, if you need certain folders, lined paper, highlighters or your laptop go and get them now. The last thing you need is to be constantly getting up and down to fetch things – it will interrupt your work flow and you may end up getting pulled away to do something less important on your way. We’ve all gone to fetch something and then stopped to do something on the way and realise an hour later what you actually left to do.

4. Gather your supplies. Put it out so that everything is easy to reach, don’t just dump it in a massive pile on the table – or even worse, on the floor next to you so you have to rummage through millions of pieces of paper to get to the one you need. If necessary separate the supplies so that the papers that are needed for one task are all together; do the same with pens etc.

It’s time to say goodbye to social connections. Turn off everything you don’t need. Don’t turn your phone to silent unless you need it for what you’re doing right now, turn it off. I know, for me at least, turning my phone onto silent mode just makes me even more tempted to check it to see if I’ve got any surprise notifications. Unless you need facebook for work related matters close it or log out of it or if you really don’t trust yourself you can even download an extension for chrome that lets you choose to temporarily block any websites on your laptop. I did it! As soon as I’ve finished my work I can unblock it again, you can even put it on a timer if you prefer.

5. Social Media Blackout. Your friends and followers will still be there when you get back, notifications will only slow you down on your quest to completing your tasks – so be ruthless. If it’s not helpful to your work delete the app for the day, log out, deliberately let your phones battery down. It doesn’t matter what you do just make sure there is no way you can be tempted to have even a ‘quick’ browse because lets face it, it never ends up being quick.

Make sure you have plenty of supplies at the ready, a bottle of water is a good start. Bottles are less likely to spill onto important paperwork/electricals if they get knocked over in a frustrated attempt at finding that one piece of paper you were sure was just on the desk a minute ago, than cups. They are also easier to drink from if you get one with the lids that push down to close and pull up to drink. Snacks might also be useful to have handy but go for something healthy that will boost your brain power rather than a bar of chocolate. You could try filling mason jars with dry fruit, seeds and nuts in advance so that you can peck whilst you work.

6.  Stock up like the shops are all closing down.  Being dehydrated will decrease your productivity by a huge amount so it’s really important that no matter what you’re doing you keep sipping water throughout the day. The same is true with food, it’s really difficult to concentrate on an empty stomach, just make sure you’re eating the right type of foods when you do eat and factor in times for eating regular meals. Don’t skip breakfast, lunch or dinner in an attempt to get more done because it will only end up having the opposite affect in the long run!

Once you’ve done all of the following it’s time to sit down and really start working. Don’t get put off by large tasks because they seem daunting, break them down into smaller, manageable tasks if you need to and if you get stuck either ask someone for help, search the internet or switch to a different task and come back to it with a clearer mind later. With some tasks the best thing to do is just start. I’ve written six, twelve page essays today and the worst part was actually the anticipation of having to do them – you know the feeling, the blank page staring at you. But I found the best way of getting through them was to start by writing down the simple things that I did know like my name and the title, just so there was something on the page. Then try to get started by coming up with a first sentence, use any and all resources available to make sure you are using all the information you can to help make it easier. You never know, once you’ve started writing you might just start yourself getting lost in the flow of things and before you know it you’re nearly done! Once you’ve completed something make sure you remember to tick it off, not only is it satisfying it also helps keep your list clear.

7. Just get stuck in. There really is no time like the present, if you need more motivation than that try visualising yourself in a couple of hours when you’ve completed that task you’ve been dreading all week. It’ll be an extremely satisfying feeling and the quicker you get started the quicker it will be yours.

I better get going because this post took far too much of my time to write and I’ve still got more essays to do!

What are your tips for getting things done?

Leave them in the comments below!

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Sophie x

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