So, why did you read this article about how to make most of your time? I highly doubt it’s because you are already organised, and just wanted to check if you were going about it the correct way.
If you are reading this post in some attempt to organise your life, whether it’s to get better grades, earn a promotion, or simply to show off to your friends that you’re using your time productively, and they aren’t.
You may be wondering, why even bother? That’s what I used to ask myself constantly before I even tried.
Well, I’ll give you a list:
- Enhances your reputation.
- Helps your self-esteem.
- Allows you to be more reliable.
- Makes your workspaces more efficient.
- Saves you energy.
- And perhaps most importantly:
- Reduces stress.
Now, I know what you’re probably thinking:
“I can’t even organise a shelf without getting stressed”
That may be true, but remember, that’s in the short term. Leaving that shelf in the state of a nuclear wasteland will only lead to more stress as time goes on.
Just imagine not having to rush, not having to hurry to get things done, or made, or written, or sorted out in the last minute, because you’ve already done, made, written, and sorted out everything in advance, days before. Now you get to watch in contempt as everyone else struggles to do all of these, the night before they’re due, while you eat popcorn.
That’s the joy of organising, and that’s what you’re here to learn.
How To Make Most Of Your Time:
1. Clean up your desk.
(Then your room, then your life). This is probably one of my most important steps.
Before deciding to pull myself together, my desk looked like it had fell victim to multiple, vicious airstrikes.
Pens everywhere, chocolate wrappers ubiquitous, cables were strewn liberally around. The leaning tower of crumpled paper seemed to be challenging Pisa in terms of height. Then I realised enough was enough.
As Dr Jordan Peterson said:
“Your room is an externalization of your mind”
So, if you wish to make yourself a more organised person, your space should reflect that.
I began the most simple way I could. By removing everything from the desk, and only putting back what I used.
This was difficult, as most people have things they think they may use. This generally means the pack of highlighters you once bought, but only use one of. By no means do I recommend disposing of whatever unused stationary or items into a trashcan, but perhaps giving them to a friend or co-worker.
Once you are sure of what you do use, make sure it has a place. Avoid at all costs placing it on top of your desk, where you write or have a computer. This is paramount. This area is to be clear of all items, all the time. The last thing you want is to move your elbow while doing whatever you are doing, and then have to pick up a 10,000 pack of staples from your office or bedroom floor.
If you can’t find a place to put any leftover items, you evidently haven’t removed enough of them, I’m afraid to say.
From there on, proceed to the rest of your room. If your room is tidy, even the smallest imperfection will look out of place, and you will correct it instantly. You’ll be surprised how much more work you can get done when your space reminds you of what you’re doing.
Essentially, whatever you control ownership of, whether it’s your house, your room, or office cubicle, whenever others see it, they’ll make the mental connection between you, and perfection, and organisation.
Otherwise, if your image to other people reflects chaos and unreliability, there will be little chance of you getting the promotion you want, the reputation you need, or the respect you deserve.
This one really helped me out. You’re not actually going to get things done if you have no idea of what you want to be done.
You need a strong precise list of what you need to achieve, and the steps required to get it done. For instance, saying “Do project” isn’t good enough. You’d need to outline which project, and how exactly to get it done, ticking off boxes as you go.
Ticking boxes has a strange effect on the mind. Some form of unexplainable satisfaction arises from scratching a tick or an x through an empty box. Even greater is the pride that arises through seeing a full page of achieved boxes.
So, at the beginning of each day or the night before, make a list of at least 5 boxes to have done by the same time tomorrow.
These can be as small as drinking 7 glasses of water, or as big as toppling a government, as long as it’s enough to motivate you to do something.
I’d go out of my way to do these lists on tangible paper, as these are much pleasant and rewarding than whatever listing app you have on your iBrick.
I would heavily advocate the use of different coloured pens for each list, as it is not only more aesthetically pleasing but it also makes it a lot easier to prioritise on what to do.
So, the ideal “To-Do List” is not just one list, but multiple.
Your front page should be the day’s main tasks, in order of superiority.
The next page should be a breakdown of the main tasks, into smaller tasks, and if necessary, another breakdown of those.
People will see your monumental stack of paperwork, covered in completed tasks, and ask how you got it done. If you wished to be honest, or modest, you could simply let them know it was just two or three jobs elaborated upon.
Or you could just make aggressive eye contact, and say “determination”, to assert dominance.
However, if virtual lists are for you, I would recommend using Google Calendar to organise what you’re doing.
Scheduling your life makes it much easier to know what you’re meant to be doing, and eliminates the time lost or wasted deciding what you’re going to do next.
I would endorse putting the more mentally challenging tasks of the day as close as possible to the beginning. This is because you have much more capacity for mentally strenuous labour in the morning. Towards midday, place simpler work, and at the end, your easiest, as by then, all you really want is to be done.
Try to model your plans around your day, and never vice versa, as that will most likely lead to complications, and more stress than necessary.
3. Wake up.
We’re all faced with one problem, never having enough hours in a day.
The most straightforward way to combat this is to make more time. Of course, you could just stay up later, but that leads to sleep deprivation, and remember, when it’s late, you inherently become less motivated to actually be productive.
Relating to what I said previously if it’s early in the day, you’re more likely to get things done.
I used to wake up at 7 AM (Weekdays), so I changed it to 6 AM, you’d be surprised how much extra time only one hour is when it comes to getting ready. In that hour, you can easily fit breakfast and a shower. With the extra time generated, feel free to do whatever you need. I usually pack my bag properly, as opposed to throwing a pen in my pocket and grabbing my coat as I flew out of the door, on a busy Monday Morning.
Keep in mind, you could even wake up a whole two hours early, and get all necessary work complete, with whatever side projects, to impress your boss, professor, or colleagues.
But inherently, to maintain a healthy eight hours of sleep, you would need to go to bed at 10 PM should you be wishing to wake up at 6 AM, without going on your phone beforehand. This is the difficult part. Downloading a blue-light filter does help, but still doesn’t beat just not using your phone before bed.
This is because using your phone before bed stimulates your brain, and keeps it awake, which isn’t ideal if you’re planning on waking up early.
It is to be noted, however difficult this may sound, once you get into the habit of waking up early, it is no longer a chore.
The more time you have to do things, the less stress you will have.
4. Go outside
Fresh air has its benefits, it gives you more serotonin (a happy chemical), it cleans the lungs, and it improves blood pressure.
The first thing you should do in the morning is to open your window. The cold morning air will certainly wake you up, as well as give you some health advantage.
Secondly, sunlight is directly associated with good mental health, so, in the morning, I would recommend having breakfast as the sun rises, or just after it, outside.
If you are waking up earlier, I’d advocate taking a 20-minute walk or run, as that will increase your heart rate, improve your mood, and amp up your motivation to get more jobs done.
The extra vitamin D is yet another reason to get up earlier and enjoy the outdoors.
One Japanese study measured the ability of “forest bathing,” or a short, leisurely spin around a forest, to improve immunity. Researchers found that forest bathing decreased stress hormones and increased intracellular anti-cancer proteins. Plus, exercise, even walking out in the cold, may help keep illness at bay because it flushes bacteria out of your airways and lungs, according to MedlinePlus, a website from the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
When considering where to go outdoors, a walk in the park can improve your memory better than an urban safari. One University of Michigan study tested how scenery effected the brain’s cognitive function of two groups of people. Researchers found those who walked around an arboretum showed an improved ability to recall by almost 20 per cent, while those who walked around the city didn’t really improve. “Interacting with nature can have similar effects as meditating,” said one of the researchers.
5. Weekly challenge.
There is no way to succeed in life if you do not step out of your comfort zone.
The way to combat this, I found, is by accepting a challenge each week.
One week, perhaps, you may wish to learn the basics of a language, for instance, I chose Russian.
Another week, you could take up a new sport.
Another, you could talk to a random stranger each day.
Taking a cold shower every day is yet one more.
Rank up the extremes until you can do something you can brag about. Go skydiving, learn how to shoot, even maybe eat tofu (perhaps not that, that’s too extreme).
You get the idea. Do something each week that you, one week ago wouldn’t even dare to think of.