Many of us would love to be more
productive on a daily or weekly basis, but having a lot to do can leave us
feeling overwhelmed. One easy way to gain a sense of control over your schedule
and productivity level is by utilizing a to-do list. With a to-do list, you can
see everything that you need to do and make a plan to tackle each task. You’ll
feel accomplished as the items are crossed off and start to see how much more
you can get done in a day. Let’s explore a few helpful tips on how using a
to-do list can enhance your productivity:
Making a to-do list shouldn’t be complicated or time-consuming. Jot down everything that you need and want to get done. Once you have it all written out, go back over the list and pick out the top priorities. You can circle those things, highlight them, or re-write your to-do list, placing the most essential tasks at the top. Starting with the most important items will give you a sense of relief as you get them done and cross them off. Prioritizing ensures that you’re being productive because you’re focusing on what you need to get done, rather than just ticking through random tasks.
Make It Manageable
Let’s face it- there are only so many hours in a day to get things done. Even if it feels like your to-do list is a mile long, you aren’t going to get to it all right away. As you’re writing out the to-do’s that you want to complete, be reasonable about what you can realistically accomplish in a day. Make your list manageable to avoid feeling overwhelmed and defeated. Simplify it as much as possible and break it down over several days if there are just too many items to work on. Spreading tasks out over a week will help you stick to the to-do list rather than abandoning it in frustration. Review and revise the list each day, noting your top priorities.
It’s easy to write down basic tasks
and worry about the details later. However, being specific and noting why each
item is important can make it more likely that those tasks will get done.
That’s because a broad item on a to-do list can make it feel unimportant or
confusing. Writing out exactly what you can do to accomplish it and why it
matters gives you clarity and adds value to the task. For example, instead of
just writing “Work on research paper”, you could break that down into a
specific to-do, like “search for information and locate sources and materials”.
Taking that broad task and breaking it down into specific, actionable items
helps you focus. When you focus on a single task at hand, you can complete it
faster and move on to the next thing.
A to-do list can be an excellent tool for increasing your productivity. By creating a list of tasks that you can reasonably complete, you’ll gain a greater sense of accomplishment. That can give you a much-needed boost and motivate you to get more done on a daily and weekly basis.
Motivation in human beings is incredibly important. It is the thing that makes most things in our lives happen. In other words, if we don’t have the will to do something, we won’t do it at all. And motivation is what drives our will, what makes us do things to change something in our lives.
That’s why it’s essential to master motivation on a daily basis, to be able to inspire ourselves even if sometimes nothing goes our way. Motivation is what will move you to create new experiences and grow as a person. So, you need to know how to evoke motivation through a number of daily activities and help yourself.
1. Eat some chocolate
The effects that chocolate has on our brains are no myth. The release of dopamine it causes increases your heart level, which then increases your motivation. And not just that – it also increases serotonin and phenylethylamine that bring you both calm and the much-needed stimulation. So, in just one minute after eating chocolate, you’ll be feeling positive effects.
2. Surround yourself with green
We all know certain colors affect our mood, and in only 10 minutes you’ll get a boost in motivation if you surround yourself with color green. And how can you do that when you need it? Well, easy – go outside! Take a short walk in your garden or go to the nearest park. Just go to a place filled with bushes and trees, and you will feel the motivation rising in you
3. Connect motivation to good feelings
It’s hard to feel motivated if you’re doing something you don’t like. The trick is to connect that annoying activity with something positive, like a favorite song. So, every time you need to do something you’d rather skip, just play your song and soon the feeling you get when you listen to your favorite song will prevail the feeling of annoyance because of the activity, and you’ll start feeling motivated.
4. Change the question
Sometimes when you get stuck, and your mind runs out of ideas, an easy solution could be to just change your focus. And in order to change focus, you need to change the question you have been asking yourself. It is usually a negative question, for example, “What is wrong with this situation?” or “What am I doing wrong?” Of course, you’ll find tons of answers to that, meaning just listing negative things and you won’t get motivated that way. Instead, change it to a positive question, like “What is good/right about this situation?” You will quickly start finding all the good things about it and slowly feeling your motivation is back.
If you take on too many things to do on a daily basis, you are bound to be disappointed, demotivated and angry at yourself. You need to be more realistic about how many things you can get done in one day, so the road to success is to cut that list to half. That way, you’ll enable yourself to do all of the things on the list, which will make you feel good about yourself and instantly motivate you to take on the tasks of the following day. It’s easier to be motivated when you have already achieved something and empowered yourself.
6. Move your physical boundary
To be a complete person, you need to awaken your motivation when it comes to testing your physical limits, no matter how small they are. Start with giving yourself a task on a daily basis that includes, for example, crossing a bicycle route that you’ll frequently change and maybe even make longer as the time passes. To avoid any problems like a flat tire (that will affect your mood and, of course, kill the motivation flow) and bad terrain, you should be prepared for all conditions. Buy high-quality tires, carry a bike pump with you and get a good mudguard – there won’t be anything to interrupt you daily motivation route.
7. Get your focus
This modern tech time brought us 24/7 connection with the whole world, making us constantly swarmed with messages, emails and video calls. The internet and all the gadgets we carry in our pockets and keeping next to us while working distract us from what we are trying to do, interrupting our chain of thoughts and preventing our motivation to spread its wings. So, next time you are trying to do something meaningful and are in need of motivation, disconnect from all the sources of unnecessary information and fun and get to work. Focus.
Small tricks that you do in 5-15 minutes can do wonders for your everyday motivation. Of course, they won’t all work with the same intensity for you, and maybe some of them won’t work at all. You just need to find out which ones do you well the most.
Meet the Author
This post was written by Audrey Taylor. Audrey was born in San Francisco and moved to Adelaide at the age of five. Marketer researcher and social media manager on hold, full – time mommy of a cheerful two-year-old. Graduated from Queensford college, worked in a couple of marketing agencies across Australia, eager to learn more about business and share her experiences. Traveled across Europe. Her hobbies include home decorating, fashion, travel, music, old movies.
It has been coming to my attention recently that a good portion of my viewership is bullet journal beginners and I get a lot of questions regarding my notebook recommendations. While I will always recommend a Leuchtturm 1917 or a Rhodia Goalbook, for the first 3 or 4 years of my bullet journaling journey I used an Essentials Gridline A5 Notebook. Here I will be reviewing the Essentials A5 Notebooks for bullet journal beginners! This post may include affiliate links.
While I used the gridline, Essentials A5 notebooks (made by Peter Pauper Press Inc.) also have dot matrix, blank, and lined page types! I will only be discussing the gridline and dot matrix.
I started using this notebook so long ago that I do not even remember my first impression, though I have always been impressed with the notebook. I just happened to be lucky, and the essentials notebooks were the first I happened across when I went out to actually search for a bullet journal. My first journal was different, but I had not bought that notebook for bullet journaling originally.
I would love to hear what your first impressions of the essentials notebook are! Submit them in the comments below, and I might add them to this post!
Pros & Cons of the Essentials Notebooks
Like any other notebook or product, there are pros and cons. This section will focus on my personal pros and cons for the Essentials notebook after years of use.
Hardcover is durable
Elastic band keeps the notebook from getting damaged and bent
Pocket in the back is a great place to store loose notes
Thick, smooth pages make ink look vibrant and write smooth
White pages (this could be a con if you prefer off-white)
Great price for the quality (generally around $9-$12; equivalent notebooks can run as high as $30)
Only one color choice – black
Pages are not numbered (this can be a pain if you like to have an index)
Do I recommend this notebook? YES, 100% yes. I particularly recommend this notebook for beginners because it’s a great quality notebook to learn in without being worried about ruining an expensive notebook. I used this notebook for the first 4ish years of bullet journaling, it’s perfect. The most significant and really only issues I have with the Essentials notebooks is the lack of page numbers and color options. However, if you are into a plain black journal, don’t mind adding your own page numbers (or don’t use them) then there should be no issue! I create all my gifted notebooks using the essentials notebooks, and everyone always raves about them.
With every new year comes new goals and hopes to achieve these goals. Unfortunately, many of us create goals that never get completed. Why is this? One reason you might not achieve your goals is that the way you wrote it is too vague, not realistic, or has no deadline. This post is all about how to write effective goals that you can achieve. This post may contain affiliate links.
Learn how to write Long-Term Goals HERE or Learn more about SMART Goals HERE.
Define Your Goal
The first thing you need to do when writing effective goals is to define the goal. What do you want to achieve? This is the easy part—getting your idea written down. However, there is more to a goal than just writing it down. Your goals need to be specific, measurable, time-sensitive, achievable, and realistic.
Make Your Goals Specific
An effective goal is a specific goal. If you do not clearly define your goal using measurable terms, you will be less inclined to complete it. Your goal needs to be so specific that it might involve smaller more specific goals to achieve the overarching goal. Read more specifically about these smaller step ladder goals here.
Make it Measurable
An effective goal needs to be measurable. This means that you need to define how you will measure your goal. Are you measuring your goal by smaller tasks or deadlines within your large goal, are you measure with time or an amount? No matter how you choose to measure your goal, measure it.
Set A Realistic Deadline
If your goal does not have a due date, you will feel no pressure to complete it. How can a goal be effective if you are not motivated to complete it by a specific time? Make sure this deadline is realistic and that you have used the specifics and measurements define above to create your deadline. Having a realistic deadline can make a goal that might otherwise not be effective.
Is Your Goal Achievable and Realistic?
How likely is it that you can reach your goal by the dates you have set for yourself? To determine achievability, you must be honest with yourself. It’s common that our expectations are unrealistic, thus, making them unachievable. We get excited and don’t think about how our goal will fit into daily life. It’s often the issue that we set a date that is too soon so that we feel overwhelmed. It’s also common that we set dates that are too far away and we put off achieving our goal, leaving it to the last minute.
Effective goals written in this format are commonly known as SMART goals. They are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-sensitive. Follow this format, and you are sure to have an effective goal!
Now that you know how to write an effective goal, sit down with a pen and paper, and create your goal!
I have been there…heck, I am still there! College is hard! The constant, never-ending piles of homework and assigned readings. It’s nearly impossible not to get behind! Plus, you’re always feeling sleep deprived and exhausted from pulling those all-nighters. College is hard, but it can be made super easy by following these Tips to Surviving College!
Get Enough Sleep
Believe it or not, all-nighters aren’t all that helpful. When you’re sleep deprived your brain functioning decreases significantly and your metabolism slows! This is especially important during finals, everyone is feeling the need to stay up all night studying. But If you begin studying enough in advance (keep reading to learn more about this), you will be able to get enough sleep to be fully functioning come test-day! Nothing is worse on test day than being sleep-deprived.
“Sleep is essential for optimal learning and memory function.” -Harvard.edu
I know, I know, you’re poor, I was there. I understand you must eat on a teeny-tiny budget. Just make sure you’re eating! Don’t skip any of those key meals. Be sure to get a good breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Prepare a meal that you can eat on the go the night before if you know the next day is going to be busy. You can also save money on meals with meal planning and coupons.
“Healthy eating has been linked to higher grades, better memory, more alertness, faster information processing…” Livestrong.com
Avoiding meals or eating primarily junk foods can significantly hurt your learning and your mood. So make sure you are eating and eating well!
Avoid Binge Drinking
The typical “college experience” includes partying, sure, go for it (YOLO, right?). NO. Drinking not only drains your bank accounts but it leads to poor decisions that can and will affect your schooling! I’m not saying you can’t go out and have some drinks with your friends every now and then. But, if you are doing it all the time your school work will suffer, your health will suffer, and you’re spending a lot of money on alcohol that you could be spending on REAL FOOD.
So, this goes with healthy eating and the financial topics I talk about below. Partying all the time does you no good if you are at school to get a degree (and if you don’t wish to gain a ton of weight, yeah, alcohol can cause weight gain). If you’re partying all the time, sleep deprived, and inevitably stressed from being poor and far behind on your work, obviously, your body isn’t going to be in very good shape. And if your body isn’t doing well, neither are you. Take care of yourself.
Try to avoid binge drinking, it’s not good for your college survival.
Having a social life is important, if you’re isolating then you are bound to burn out faster. Resilience. Resilience refers to a person’s ability to bounce back from traumatic or difficult situations. One way to help build your resilience is to have friends. I’m not saying you must go out and find a ton of friends (you can if you’d like). But really all you need is a couple close friends, people to count on and who count on you. Having a place to belong is super important!
Be careful, if you’re only socializing and you never study, your grades will suffer.
Build your resilience to difficult situations, make a friend. #Friendship
I cannot stress enough the importance of time management! Without time management, you are more likely to forget about assignments and be generally stressed out and behind! Having good time management can help you to not only feel better but to raise your grades as well! Track your time for a week and see where you are spending your time!
“Time=Life; therefore, waste your time and waste your life, or master your time and master your life.” Alan Lakein
Get a Planner
Using a planner is a great way to practice time management! Use a planner to track your assignments, events, set aside study time, track your meals and water intake, track your habits, and be prepared for upcoming tests and projects! You can also track group assignment meetings, club meetings, and anything else you are involved in! I highly suggest creating a Bullet Journal, check out these printable planning pagesandhomework trackers to help you out!
As soon as your textbook lists become available, email your professor to make sure those are the required texts, then get them! Coming to the first few weeks of classes unprepared will set you back! No one likes playing catch up, you’ll never feel like you are ahead of the game.
Once you’ve bought them track them! Keep a spreadsheet detailing the book’s information so that, come to the end of the semester, you will know which ones are rentals and when they are due. Plus, if a book doesn’t show up, you will have all the information you need handy to get a free replacement!
I absolutely love this website and I recommend it to everyone I know who is searching for textbooks. This website automatically compares pricing on textbooks all over the internet to help you save money. This website saved me hundreds! (Not Sponsored)
Once you’ve typed your ISBN number or a keyword or phrase into the search bar, you get to choose how you want the book (Rental, New, Used, etc.). Then it’ll lay out all the sites you can buy the book from and the price! How easy is that??
Do Your Homework
Once you’ve got your time management all settled, you have your books and your assignments all figured out, you have no excuse for not doing your homework. Doing your assignments is literally the easiest way to ensure a passing grade. You can’t fail if you do everything that is asked of you! Chances are, you will do pretty well!
Simple as that!
You don’t have time to read every single reading assignment in detail, I get it. So instead, learn how to skim. This can take practice, but I am sure you’re already a pro.
Always refer to the discussion questions and key learning points presented at either the end or the beginning of the chapter. These will give you an idea of what you are about to read and also give you information to focus your attention on. If your professor gives you a set of discussion questions or an assignment, thoroughly read the instructions and questions before delving into the chapter. Again, this sets you up to read the information with a goal.
Pay close attention to the beginning and ending of every paragraph, as well as anything underlined, bolded, italicized or in a bubble on the page.
And Lastly, TAKE NOTES! Taking notes while you are reading is a sure-fire way to improve your learning. Simply writing down the section titles and subtitles, along with a few key points, definitions, or some of your thoughts will increase your attention to your reading. This, in turn, helps you to memorize the information for the test later!
Do Your Work at the College Library
Sometimes the most distracting place to do homework is at home… Whether you live in the dorms, an apartment, or with your parents, you are more likely to watch Netflix or spend countless hours on your phone when you are at home. Doing your homework in the library lessens the chance you will be distracted and you will get a lot more done in a shorter period of time.
If you don’t have access to a library try designating a spot in your house for work only. In this spot, you cannot watch TV, sleep, or lounge. Having an area that is only for school will help you to sit down with the mindset that you are working, and help to lessen distractions.
Start Studying Early
You don’t need an all-nighter to be prepared for a test if you’ve already been studying! Doing a little bit of reading or note card review every day starting at least a week in advance could be enough to prepare you for the test!
Study while you are waiting in line at the grocery store or while in the waiting room at the doctors. Doing this instead of browsing Facebook will increase your chances of passing!
Being prepared for a test feels way better than cramming the night before, promise!
Get a Study Buddy…. Or Two!
Studying with other people is so great for learning because teaching is a really great way to reinforce memorization. Plus, if you are stuck, maybe your buddy can help!
Not only are study buddies great study resources, but they keep you accountable. Accountability is huge. If you have no way of holding yourself accountable for doing your work, why would you do it? Now maybe your parents or the teachers keep you accountable. Nevertheless, it’s nice to have someone there to work out the difficult problems with. Plus, maybe you’ll make a friend while you’re at it!
Take Advantage of College Writing Centers and Tutors
Your school provides resources such as a writing center and tutoring services for a reason, USE THEM! There is nothing to be ashamed of, everyone needs a little help sometimes.
If you are struggling with one of your classes, get a tutor. A tutor is someone who has been in the class or knows the subject particularly well. Why wouldn’t you want the help of an expert?
Writing centers are also amazing resources. Every student at one point has to write a paper or two, it’s inevitable so you might as well accept your fate now. No matter how skilled you are at writing papers it is always smart to have someone (or multiple someones) read your paper for errors, structure, flow, etc. The people in the writing center happen to be particularly knowledgeable in writing. They can catch those pesky mistakes you keep reading over, and the ones you don’t know your making. Make an appointment and have them read it! What can it hurt?
“Asking for help doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it means you’re smart enough to recognize when you’re struggling.” Elizabeth Ghekiere
As I mentioned before, writing things down helps you to learn and memorize information. Even if you have access to the notes online, taking your own notes is a form of studying. So, by taking notes you are becoming better prepared for the test.
Taking notes in class is huge because many professors add questions to the test that are based on lectures instead of just the reading, assignments, or their provided notes. Forcing yourself to take notes also forces you to pay attention and you are less likely to wonder, “Did we actually learn this” when it comes to test-day! There were so many times in my undergrad, where I would hear other students complaining that the teacher didn’t teach the information that was on the test. However, I would look at my notes and see clearly that it was a topic of discussion. Paying attention and taking notes helps!
If you are stuck or confused ask questions! Raise your hand in class, approach the professor after class or during office hours, ask the writing center, ask a tutor, ask a classmate. If you don’t know something, ASK, don’t leave yourself hanging.
So often I find myself confused or wondering something but am afraid to raise my hand and be embarrassed. This is normal. However, after forcing myself to ask questions I found that I felt more confident in both myself and my work! Not only did I feel better, but I was able to build really helpful relationships with professors and peers. These connections are incredibly useful in the future when you have more questions, or in the job-world when you need a recommendation!
“Don’t be afraid to ask a question, it might lead to a mutually prosperous relationship.” Elizabeth Ghekiere
Start Paying on Your Loans
I know, I know, you’ve been trying to avoid your loans, not pay on them early! But trust me, you will be saving your own butt if you start NOW! Even if you just try to keep up with the interest, you’ll thank yourself after you graduate! I started paying on my loans my freshman year and was able to pay off two loans completely before I graduated, leaving another two with only a couple hundred left. Crazy right!? I didn’t even make monthly payments. Imagine the damage you could do with monthly payments! Whenever you have extra money, throw it at your loans, you won’t regret it.
Avoid Credit Card Offers
Those pesky credit card offers will be the death of you. They sound intriguing now, and they try to tell you it’s the only way to accrue credit. But they are lying. I haven’t used a single credit card and I have great credit!
Credit cards are tempting because you’re poor in college, but unless you are able to pay them off RIGHT AWAY, you will only build yourself into a deep debt-hole. The deeper the hole, the harder it will be to get out of, and the longer it will take to get financially free.
Take All Those Free Pens
You just never know when you or a friend will need a pen, might as well take one…or three!
I hope these tips and tricks which helped me survive my undergrad are helpful for you! Enjoy what you’re reading? Sign up for a ton of FREE stuff HERE.
We live in a fast-paced society surrounded by incredibly busy people. And when you are an incredibly busy person, it is hard to keep everything straight. A lot of the time this internal chaos is the result of poor time management. This article provides 5 tools for improving time management.This article utilizes Amazon Affiliate Links
The first step in time management improvement is to get enough sleep. When you are running on less than the recommended 7 hours of sleep your brain isn’t functioning at its highest capacity. Because of this, you become more easily overwhelmed, exhausted, and lazy feeling. Learn more about designing your bedroom to get a good nights sleep here.
When you are able to get 7 hours of consecutive sleep you will feel amazing! You will be more capable of handling the crazy chaos each day brings.
#2 Daily To-Do List
There are a million ways to improve your time management and one of the most common methods is a daily to-do list. While I prefer a planner with everything all laid out in one portable spot, a to-do list is super simple and easy for anyone to use.
A to-do list doesn’t have to be anything fancy or costly. All you really need is a pen and some paper.
When it comes to utilizing a to-do list, I recommend referring to it each morning. Before you get anything done, read over your to-do list and revise it if you need to. Now you know what your goals are for the day and you can get started!
My favorite time management tool is my planner! There are, again, a million types of planners. You can use a bullet journal, premade planner, notebook, or an app on your phone or computer.
The bullet journal is one of the most customizable planner options. A notebook is very similar though. If you choose to go the notebook route, then good for you! Each person is different and the important thing is that you find something that works for you and your needs.
The third option is a pre-made planner. There are a million brands and styles out there to choose from. Check out these planners by At-A-Glance, there are some great options!
I like myhomeworkapp.com because it is explicitly for homework and delivers customized notifications to my phone to remind me to get my projects done on time. Myhomework is also amazing because it works on both my phone and my laptop, providing me with access to my homework no matter where I am. Lastly, the myhomework phone app is amazing because it comes with a widget that displays my homework right there.
Google Calendar for Android is nice because it links right up to my google account making it accessible both on my laptop and on my phone. I used this app more before I discovered bullet journaling but still tend to keep it around for the reminders feature.
OneNote, like the other two apps, is mobile and laptop friendly. Here I can make quick notes or to-do lists from my phone when I do not have access to my bullet journal. I can then see these lists on my laptop.
With all your lists, to-do’s, and appointments in one place, you are now better prepared to take on everything the day wants to throw at you.
This next time management tool was already touched on a little bit, but I’ve decided to talk about it separately because of how useful it really is. Calendars provide a nice monthly overview and can include a variety of things and come in a variety of shapes.
Like I mentioned, I use my bullet journal calendar and Google Calendar for Android. However, my most-used calendar is a whiteboard. I’ve had my whiteboard calendar for so long, I don’t have a single clue where I got it. However, I was able to find a similar one, you can check that out here.
My whiteboard calendar is a life saver. I love it because it doesn’t waste paper, mounts right up on the wall with Command Strips, and can be easily accessed by everyone in my household. I usually put appointments, work schedule, and events up on this calendar, so it is less about detail and more an overview.
#5 Have an Organized Space
The final time management tool is having an organized space. If you are living in clutter, then you will feel cluttered. Having a space that is designated for your work and has all the supplies you require within reach is essential. If you would like to learn more about how to declutter your workspace head on over my 6 Ways to Declutter Your Desk Space post.
Meet Elizabeth! Elizabeth is the creator and writer here at Elizabeth Journals. In addition to creating for ElizabethJournals, she is a full-time graduate student studying clinical mental health counseling. She started Jihi Elephant to share her experiences, spread organizational tips, and promote positive living. Elizabeth is an avid bullet journalist, dabbling artist, and houseplant fanatic.
You can also read more about the origins of Jihi Elephant and its creator here.
ElizabethJournals is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.
Learn more about ElizabethJournal's response to Covid19: elizabethjournals.com/covid19-update/ Dismiss