For many, this time of year means the end of summer, swimsuits get packed away, and summer travel plans are pushed to the back of the mind until next year. It also means deadlines and to-do lists that appear to get longer rather than shorter the closer we get to the last months of the year.
For me, the end of the year is my most productive time, even more so than the beginning of the year. Perhaps it stems from years of going to school where deadlines for projects and exams had to be complete in order to receive grades for the semester. Part of it might be because there are less distractions in the cooler months or maybe because I live for being organized. Whatever it is, it works! So, I am giving you a list of tips to help you be productive and tackle that never ending to-do list before the end of the year!
I tried going without a planner once and my life was a mess. That being said, my first tip for being productive is to utilize a planner. There are so many styles and sizes of planners that fit every lifestyle and budget. Once you have a planner, write everything down. There is nothing worse than trying to remember an appointment, task, or due date or forgetting about it altogether. With most planners there are calendars to write appointments in, task sections to write important projects and due-dates, and note sections to write anything that doesn’t fit into the latter two sections.
Once you have important appointments, tasks, and projects written down, you want to prioritize. There are different ways of prioritizing: due dates, ease of project, favorite to least favorite subjects just to name a few. The most important is by due date because you definitely do not want to miss turning in a project or report on time. After that, it is completely up to you! Maybe you want to get the easiest projects done first so you can spend more time on the harder ones. Or maybe there is a project or report you have been dreading, so you want to get that out of the way so you can work on something you actually enjoy. If you don’t have a deadline, set one for yourself. Or even if you do, set a deadline for yourself so you have time to make sure everything is done and done well.
Setting a deadline for yourself will also help you avoid procrastination and get ahead. Procrastination is your worst enemy when it comes to meeting deadlines or due dates. I am by no means perfect and would find myself finishing papers the morning they were due in college. Every once in awhile is fine, but if you continuously barely make the deadline, you will find yourself stressed to the max and you no longer enjoy what your work. One thing you can do to avoid procrastination and to get ahead is to work on the project in advance. Set a personal deadline to get your project or report done days, weeks, or even months in advance.
Now you have your to-do list and important due-dates and appointments written down, you are aware of your deadlines and have prioritized what you need to get done first, and now it’s time to get to work! It’s important to remember you are human, not a robot. It is nearly impossible to work straight through your to-do list without getting distracted or needing a break, so take breaks and reward yourself for the work you have done. To avoid getting distracted by your phone or social media, set a goal for yourself – if you work on your task for 1 hour or you write 2 pages of your paper or report, then you can get on social media for 15-30 minutes or watch 1 episode of your favorite show You can also reward yourself at the end of a big deadline once you have successfully completed your project. Grab your favorite coffee, go out for drinks, get that dinner you’ve been dreaming of for the last couple of weeks, buy that outfit you think would be perfect for the new year. You have worked hard and deserve breaks and rewards.
Last but not least, find joy in what you do. If you don’t enjoy your work whether it be your job or career, your major in school, or a subject you are writing about for your blog, then you will not want to complete the tasks required. You will procrastinate to the last minute causing you even more stress. If it’s your work causing you stress or you no longer enjoy it, change jobs. If you are no longer enjoying your major in school, switch majors. If your school is no longer a good fit, switch schools. If you don’t like the subject you’re writing about on your blog, find something you do enjoy writing about even if it isn’t popular. Self-care and self-love come in so many different shapes and forms. Yes, it can be taking a mental health day from work or class, taking a hot bath with bath bombs and a glass of wine, getting your hair and nails done, or getting a massage. It can also be making bigger changes in your life such as switching jobs or even careers, transferring to a different school, changing your major, leaving a toxic friendship or relationship. If you don’t find joy in what you do or take care of yourself in whatever shape or form that may be, then you will never successfully complete your to-do list.
However long your end of year to-do list is, there are ways you to tackle it and live life one yes at a time!