Oh to give thanks. Thankful for the last minute essay revisions that kept you up at 2:00 a.m. Thankful for social media making you feel like the only human being still working on your Common App. Thankful for your mother and her “gentle” and “subtle” reminders to complete your college applications. Thankful for a UC deadline that will have you working through Thanksgiving. Thankful for the stress that is college. Will I really get into a school?
Wait. None of that sounds fun. Or thankful. Deadlines, college apps, school work, outside commitments, family and everything else under the sun. How do you manage it all? How do you get momentum building so you not only crush your to-do lists, but also prioritize AND get to your larger goals? Check out the tips below so you can actually enjoy Thanksgiving this year and let your only worry be that you get a slice of your favorite pie.
Find the one thing.
I read The ONE Thing and it blew my mind. It freed me from the million to do lists and tasks and helped me approach work, deadlines and life in a streamlined way that just makes pure sense.
Ask yourself, “What’s the one thing I can do right now to help my larger goals?” And then focus. It’s about narrowing your focus, prioritizing the tasks that will get you to your larger goals and bigger deadlines and gaining momentum. It’s also about giving yourself time to reflect, unwind and relax in between tasks so you approach everything with a clearer head space.
As I write this blog post, I have closed all other tabs, my phone is turned down and my time already allotted. One of the biggest downfalls we can have is thinking we’re multitasking able human beings. Newsflash, we aren’t. You begin writing a college essay, then switch over to your Gov homework, then your phone chimes and you respond to a text. The TV is on and even though you’ll work during commercial breaks, you end up gazing up more often than you think.
Multitasking is purely a stream of interruptions stopping you from completing one task to its fullest and to its purest. We live in a world of distraction. It is more important than ever before to minimize the noise and set yourself up to complete tasks in an efficient way. Have you ever left a day of school or work and felt exhausted, but still like you got nothing done? You can bet multitasking and disruption teamed up to take you down. And they won.
Give yourself windows to reduce the extras and focus on one task. Put your phone on airplane mode. Turn off the TV. Tell your family you are working for one hour and do not interrupt. And then do it. Turn off notifications. Honestly Instagram updates and likes will be there. Do you REALLY need to be notified anytime someone likes a photo or sends a message? It’s rarely dire, earth shattering news.
Prioritizing your work is just as important as getting rid of multitasking. We often leave the ickiest of tasks to do last. That’s because they’re icky. It’s the thing you’re not strong in. The task you push back because the brain power is just too much. But what ends up happening is you’ve now left the hardest, ickiest of tasks not only to the last minute, but now with added pressure. And what does that added pressure do? Cloud your ability to think clearly and complete tasks successfully.
I used to tackle individual emails every time I came into work. Then I’d inevitably be pulled in a meeting and come back to emails when I was done. This went on all day long. I’d go home feeling defeated, like I wasn’t able to make a bigger impact on my school community, but how could I with all the emails?
I thought about my larger goals and wrote them on a sticky note. I also looked at upcoming large events and had a priority list for those. That sticky note had three words, student interaction, communication and programming. If a task didn’t directly correlate with one of my larger goals, I would push it back. If a task didn’t go towards my priority list for an upcoming event, I could push it back. The busy work didn’t feel so draining. It was something I did at the end of the day once my larger priorities and goals were met. And that was HUGE for me. Even if I couldn’t get to one email until the next day, I was able to walk away from my desk knowing my impact was greater. That’s the golden ticket. My work mattered.
Your work can matter too. So what’s your one thing?