There are those days when I don’t feel like socializing or putting on pants. That’s when I either a) lock myself in my apartment with a Modern Family DVD and thin crust pizza b) put on a skirt, grab a cup of coffee, and suck it up. It’s more often the latter due to the never-ending responsibilities that life hands me (class, work, deadlines, due dates, friendships, internships, family obligations, the list continues on and on and on…), but there have been many moments when I wish I could crawl under my covers for hours at a time and not see the light of day. There have been some moments when I’ve done just that. Because I just. can’t. think. anymore.
I have a brain that works at an impossibly fast rate, bouncing from point A to point B to point F to point Z. It’s a distraction, and often times I have trouble finishing the project I started because I’m thinking about the other 1,000 goals and projects and ideas I have. I have wondered before if I suffer from an attention “disorder”, but I have not been medically diagnosed and I don’t think I’m at the point of needing medication. More than anything, I take it as a personality quirk.
If you know me personally, you also know that I can talk about a million miles a minute. And although I articulate myself well (thanks to years and years of acting classes and tongue twisters), it goes to show how easily my mind bounces around. Which can be very, very problematic. Sometimes I wonder how I ever get anything done.
So I’ve come up with a list for those bouncy, all-over-the-map, mind-racing-a-million-times-a-minute kind of people. I know you’re out there! I know I’m not alone! And if we can establish some good habits, we may actually finish something before its deadline. *Knock on wood*
When you’re crunched for time, when you have a deadline, or when you just want to be goddamn productive, do this:
Put away your phone.
1. *GASP* I know! It’s crazy to think that the technological extension of our bodies will be gone for any point in time (I mean we practically sleep with Siri), and you don’t even have to put it on silent if you’re expecting an important phone call or text, but put. it. aside. Turn up the volume if necessary, but then place it across the room from you and don’t pick it up unless it’s absolutely necessary.
Find your sanctuary.
2. Find out which kind of atmosphere you’re most productive in. For me, it’s a coffee shop or café. Some people cannot work with any noise whatsoever, but I like being surrounded by hustling and bustling people. It actually helps me focus better than being in a quiet library or in my own home. That’s actually where I am right now to write this post, so find your sweet spot, and go to it.
Find out if you work better together, or alone.
3. Do not hang out with distracting people when trying to get something done. For me, this is primarily a problem when I’m studying or doing homework. There are some friends that I can study with and get a lot done. In fact, I prefer to study with people who are in my same classes because it’s really helpful to have other minds to bounce ideas off of, but if you do not have those kinds of individuals to surround yourself with, then opt for being alone. There have been far too many times when I’ve sat down to study and ended up chatting with my buddy across from me for three hours and then had to stay up ’til 3 am finishing a paper. No bueno.
Give yourself a break.
4. Give yourself breaks and time them. How often and for how long is up to you, but for me, I give myself a 5 minute break every 30 minutes if I’m working on an intense project or paper. I cannot concentrate well after about 30 minutes of pure focus anyway, so giving myself a break to either chat, check my phone, or browse the interweb usually helps me get back on track. But that’s only, only if I set a timer for my breaks. Otherwise those 5 minutes turns into 50…
Say goodbye to Facebook stalking.
5. Temporarily deactivate your Facebook. I don’t find this necessary unless I’m facing a particularly difficult finals week… but for some of you, Facebook is the ultimate tool for procrastination. If you are one of those people, just temporarily deactivate your account and don’t reactivate it until you are free from finals or midterms. Just that action alone will probably save you a lot of time.
Caffeinate, caffeinate, caffeinate.
6. Drink coffee (but not too much). This seems obvious coming from a Seattleite, but seriously… Coffee is my life and it helps me stay energized and focused as long as I don’t overdo it. And if by accident I do, then I end up being far more jittery and don’t get anything done. Be careful… but treat yourself to that double shot vanilla latte!
7. And lastly, give yourself goals to achieve and reward yourself when you do. They can be as small as getting yourself a treat after you finish at least half of your term paper, or they can be bigger like buying that extremely cozy sweater you’ve been dying to have if you get an A on your term paper. Either way, set yourself up with a reward system and stick to it. Treat yo’self.
Those are some of my tips and tricks for staying on track and gettin’ shit done. As I enter my junior year of college, this has been something I’ve been thinking about… Along with about a million other things… And I hope it helps you, too! Hey! Kudos to you for finishing this entire blog post without getting distracted. Now get off the internet, and get back to work! But promise you’ll come back and visit me soon. xx.