Productive >>>>>> Busy

The spring can be an overwhelming time for students. Juggling academics, activities,
college admissions tests, and social obligations quickly escalates from a hundred yard dash to a hike around the dark side of Saturn.

Being busy doesn’t necessarily mean being productive. If you find yourself frequently out of time and energy, try reorganizing your projects. You may be surprised at your own efficiency.

One way to regain a sense of control is to allot times for tasks. You know your schedule best. Figure out how much time you have to dedicate to homework, test prep, and all your other activities, and then schedule when you are going to do what. This can be in the form of a calendar entry, phone reminders, or a to-do list, but make sure you are realistic when setting down your plans. If you have only two hours, don’t schedule researching a history project, studying 50 Spanish verbs, and reviewing three ACT sections—this will only lead to failure and more frustration. Know your priorities and plan accordingly.

Scheduling long blocks of time for work can seem like the best method, but breaks are important, too. During your studying time, set a timer for 20 or 30 minutes. After you’ve put in a distraction-free half hour or so, take five to check your phone, get a snack, or put your head down. Knowing that a planned break is coming up can help you stay on task during your focused time.

Where you study can influence the quality of your work—the better your environment, the better your work. Find someplace away from noises and distractions. This means the kitchen table may not be your best bet if your parents are chatting and cooking lasagna and garlic bread while your brother is making chainsaw noises on the Xbox.

Finally, if you find yourself internally distracted by everyday realities, like things you want to google, supplies you need to order, or email you need to go through, have a notepad ready. Write out the things on your mind and come back to them when you have more time. This way you can dismiss these thoughts knowing that you can come back to them later.

This time of year can be daunting, but organizing, scheduling, and planning can help you to make sure that your busiest times are also your most productive times.