One of the biggest problems I have is everyone around me is not on the same page. University for others seems to be this magical place where people relax, do a little work and have fun. I see it like that but realise there is more time than people are saying there isn’t…
For an average student at university this is a rough summary of their day:
10AM — Wake up, 11AM — Make breakfast, 1PM — Go to a lecture, 3PM —Relax (Nap) , 5PM — Go to the library for a rushed stint, 8PM — Predrink, 11PM — Go out and arrive home at 4AM.
Now this is not every student, but from experience I would say its about 70% of students (assumption ;) ) are like this. The other 30% of students, seem to have a spark/some sort of vision/purpose for the future that allows them to use their time in more effective ways. This also plays into their organising and action skills.
The reason I am raising this issue, is because streamlining your work, cleaning up, building your CV and growing your portfolio can be so very easy to kick off. I have been able to do this and its worked perfectly so far!
These tips, these tricks, these guides are designed for that 70% of students who need to flip the switch over to actioning, having fun, organising but still enjoying your day. On the go productivity that is embedded into your daily lives and that can be used as a practice not a 1 time option.
And here they are…
- Clean everything up — spring clean
I can almost bet some money that 90% of your desk/workspace looks a little like this… Another hefty assumption but if I’m right that’s 100% already.
Showing you clutter free experiences is so much more appealing to the productivity of those essays and projects you are/should be working on at university. This is how you can get from this to a clutter free area
This space is where you can access your information and easily get hold of physical documentation and data quickly not a bomb site…
Steve Jobs designed the tables in the Apple Stores in order to be clutter-free to simply allow you to focus on the product. In this case, you are creating the environment to focus solely on your work, that is the GOAL and…. Even Steve did it!
So clearing your space first is very important. There are two TASKS here:
TASK 1: Clear physical documents and information
Step 1 is being BRUTAL: Get rid of the stuff you never use — that you never will use or never want to use. Be so brutal.
With all that paper, find physical folders, label them and fill them with specific content to do with the topic. EG. Folder labelled Cat Insurance info — needs to be all the information and documents on Cat insurance (a very useful student example).
Step 2 is making all the crap digital: You now have started to tame your mountain of crap. The paper, the folders and all that are great but you need to be utilising the Super PCs in your pockets. Get your Smartphone out and start storing the documents in your hands digitally. Get the application Evernote and Scannable and start making notebooks and storing scanned documents that you can come back to later… It’s simple! This two apps are great ones but if you feel comfortable Google Drive, Dropbox, OneNote and more are other options… But make sure to keep these folders organised too!
Once you've started bringing things to the digital platform — read my Evernote blog post on how to master the way you organise online.
How to use Evernote to organise and stack — This is a post that I cover.
2. Okay you’re organised, now take action!
You just spent that time organising all of your work and paper and everything clutter related. Here is the time to manage your action points throughout your day effectively.
As a student, you need to be managing a lot of things, academic work, what night you are out, what person you are doing group work with and what do we have to do…
This is a good way to keep your thoughts pinned down. There is a theory called the OPEN LOOPS theory, not very scientific, but essentaially…
What happens to a computer when too many tabs/programs are running?
Answer: it slows down or cut-out.
This is like your brain… If you have too many things to remember… Your brain will slow-down, panic and stress-out! These are open loops (David Allen I believe), they are uncompleted activities that your brain decides to store there tokeep you on your toes…. Why store them….
Surely if you had it managed, everyone would stress less. This inability to manage your inner circumstances can result in dangerous results but why not stop a small issue now.
So, these open loops, we forget about them once they are “closed” or completed.
Closed loops. So why don’t we all simply remove them from our brains as they come in? What I mean here… is we can write them down as soon as we think about them. In essence, we don’t have to remember them, the piece of paper/online checklist is able to do this for us — this saves good amount of memory and stress.
This is where To Do Lists are born! However people don’t collect what they have in their brains enough. You need to be collecting a range of things. From the shoes you have to buy next month to the assignment due in the next week. Everything.
Wake up at your regular time… 8AM — Write down what tasks have popped up when you woke up! I can guarantee some have! When you go to bed, write down what things are whirling around…
The next Step of this is to PROCESS what they mean… Making sure you know what that mean is important because I see so many people write…
“Write 3,000 word report on Napaolena and the war he was in”
Then start crying… I would, That looks horrible! Write this instead:
“Write 200 words for Napolean Report: Focus on First 5 Years”
That looks so much better and more bite-size. Coming back to the importance of this processing. Things that come into your system are important!
If you get an email about the new Library Opening Times for your University and you don’t use the Library… Why keep it in that inbox — be brutal and clear the crap that comes in a speedy way.
3. Organised and action ready! Now visualise it!
This is the final area I promise and probably the best one.
Google Calendar… That is all I’m saying. Get it and follow these practices with your calendar.
- Write everything in it! I promise you it will pay dividends “meet bob from Maths Class”, “Call Sarah from home”, “EXAM Revision Time” Everything!!!
- Move your lectures onto the G Cal — Your uni will show you how to do this. A lot of the time its just a URL switch.
- Have focused time — Set time on your calendar to focus on that one task/project — eg. This bit of coursework, or this bit of my new business idea to focus on — clunk it into hour/30min spots.
I really hope this whole thing was useful — I do want to continue the conversation on over at Twitter. Please hit me up there!