It feels like ages since I was an undergrad (it has not actually been that long), and I recently found this in ‘my documents’. I wrote it up when I was just finishing my study – it is the accumulation of three years’ worth of “wisdom”. If only I had actually followed it myself…
Never underestimate the benefit of the distraction-free library. Yes it may seem like too much effort to even get there, let alone haul all your study stuff there… but it’s worth it.
If you’re really struggling to use your time well, keep a log. Every time you change task, write it down, with the time. Better yet, post it on your blog or somewhere where you feel held accountable. This really quickly keeps me accountable, unless I really want to write down: 2:01 – checked Facebook; 2:05 – ate a biscuit; 2:07 – googled llamas; 2:10 – ate another biscuit while checking Facebook.
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Before you go to bed, make a list of what you need/want to do next day. Before you leave the house, make a list of what you’ll get done when you return. Before you have dinner, make a list of what you’ll accomplish in the evening. That way you have no reason to ‘do nothing’ and no need to make decisions.
Close tabs. Don’t have a thousand open with different projects. One thing at a time. Research shoulder – and then delete all the shoulder related ones. Force yourself to make decisions – don’t delay them. Do you need to save this link?
Wash your face. The amount of times I feel sticky after coming home from somewhere and put off doing any work simply because I “don’t feel like it” – and then I wash my face, and all of a sudden my motivation returns.
Save copies of everything everywhere. Literally. Emails go missing. So do forms. I think it’s helpful to keep: a digital copy (if it’s very important on 1-2 cloud devices plus your computer) and a scanned paper copy (if you need to access it/give it away often). I don’t trust USBs. They are not a reliable back-up. I’ve had too many corrupt on me. Besides, they can be lost. If it’s in the cloud (google drive, one drive, drop box) you can access it remotely as well. Never save anything on your desktop that you don’t mind losing (I’ve also had my entire hard drive self-destruct for no reason)
Always expect it will be colder/hotter than you suspect, and you will be hungrier than you anticipate. In other words, stock up like a camel and bring your kitchen sink and wardrobe along with you at all times. It’s amazing how temperature changes and you’re almost always out longer than you expected.
Get phone numbers off people as early as possible. Names can be hard to spell and look up on Facebook, if the person even has that. Besides, you never know when you might need to contact someone over an assignment, transport or even for their birthday! It gets confusing when you’re messaging people to find out someone else’s number.
Make use of your transport time, but remember people always win. I was good at optimizing the time I spent on the bus and walking. I would come with an armful of notes to read and work to prep…only to meet a friend and have all my plans go to waste. Yet the reality is, love trumps all. There was no waste. It’s the relationships you make with friends and maintain with family, and the conversations you have about life and God, and the time you take for people – that’s what matters in the end. However much it doesn’t feel like it.