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8 Ways to Stay Involved in College Life but Not Go Completely Crazy

8 Ways to Stay Involved in College Life but Not Go Completely Crazy

I’m a college student. Maybe you’re a college student, too. Life is crazy busy. Like, extremely busy. Maybe you’re in the same boat as me. You are involved in classes, yes, but then there’s everything else: your job(s), internship, extra-curricular clubs, and various groups. Maybe you’re a member of a sorority or fraternity, as well. You and me, we’re involved in a lot—let’s just keep it at that.

Somehow, some way, we are expected to have our lives under control. Homework is due. Exams are practically every other day, not to mention the many group projects, club meetings, and study sessions.

When do we have time to get it all done, let alone breathe?

There are only twenty four hours in a day, which sometimes, feels like not enough. If you’re anything like me, you’ve tried to organize your life, you really have. You began this school year with a positive outlook on the semester, telling yourself that you’d sleep eight hours a night, get straight A’s, and have enough time for both your social life AND studying. But somehow, in the span of just a few weeks, that ideal image has begun to quickly fade out of sight. Now, reality has set in.

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If you’re on the verge of losing all the sanity you have left… if you’re on the crossroads between Crazy Town and Panic Road, you’ve come to the right place.

Here are 8 Ways to Stay Involved in College Life but Not Go Completely Crazy.

1. Check lists are your new BFF.

Check lists are your life preservers. Buy a notebook specifically for this purpose—it’s that important. Check lists have helped me in huge ways, and have literally saved my sanity multiple times.  First, write down everything you have to do that week. Everything, even the group meetings and the homework assignments… even the mall trip you hope to squeeze into your schedule somewhere. Then, break it up into days. Daily checklists break down the overwhelming To-Do lists into smaller, more manageable pieces. Write reasonable goals for yourself every morning, goals that will actually be completed by the end of the day.

Writing even the most mundane tasks down, like taking a shower, gives you a motivational boost of energy when you are able to check it off. There’s something empowering and encouraging about checking off an item on your To-Do list. It makes you feel productive, because you are! You’re getting things done in a more organized, less crazy way.

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2. Become Time-Oriented

Time is precious. There are only so many hours in a day to get everything done, so wasting it is a huge mistake. Becoming Time-Oriented is very easy to adapt, but it takes will power. Set time goals for yourself. Have to study for an exam? Give yourself one hour. Then take a break and do something else, something on your check list. Start writing a paper outline or respond back to a group project email.

Breaking up your time into smaller chunks helps create a more relaxed brain space. Focusing on one thing for too long is not productive. By giving your brain a break from one task, you are able to be more productive and complete more tasks faster.

However, becoming time-oriented does not mean that you become legalistic about scheduling. Allow for a little flexibility, in case something comes up or you accidentally sleep in a little too late. Be persistent in becoming time-oriented, but keep an open mind. If you under schedule yourself for a specific task, you will feel stressed, so make sure to keep your time limits reasonable.

3. The 10 Minute Cycle

This is one of my secret tricks. Piggybacking off of #2, the 10 Minute Cycle helps release the overwhelming stress you may feel between tasks. Walking to class? Put your phone away and listen to a few songs, instead. Taking a break from exam studying? Stand up and do 50 jumping jacks or 50 sit-ups (or both!). Group meeting done early? Check your email or call a friend. The 10 Minute Cycle allows you to do something different every day. Whether it’s checking Facebook, walking around campus, or listening to some pump up music, give your mind a re-boost of energy between tasks or meetings. The trick is: Keep your activity at 10 minutes or less. It’s just enough time to jumpstart your focus, but short enough to keep you on track.

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4. Write. It. Down.

Let’s face it. No matter how good you think your memory is, sometimes it fails you. You thought you’d remember your dad’s birthday, but you forgot. You thought you’d remember that the exam is next Tuesday, but you didn’t realize it until Monday night. Things happen. Write it down.

Buy a planner or put it in your phone. However you’d like to make record of it, do it. Stick to it. Always check it. Update it. By writing it down and keeping up with your plans, you won’t get everything confused. Write down the times next to your meeting dates. Write down the number of the classroom your sorority is having their weekly meeting. Whatever it is, write it down. Thinking you’re going crazy and actually going crazy aren’t that different. When you write your thoughts down, it’s a valid and visual reminder of what you have to do. Chances are you won’t go crazy when you don’t have to worry about forgetting something!

5. Change your scenery.

If you are stuck in your dorm or the library studying for yet another exam or meeting for another group project, I feel bad for you. Sometimes, the scenery is what makes us feel overwhelmed. Change it up! Head to Starbucks or a little café. Go into the student lounge or to a random window seat in an academic building. Changing up the scenery will change your productivity level, too, which will, in turn, keep you sane and focused. Your dorm and the library are great, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes, a little change is good for you!

6. Clean your space.

Mental stress is really the underlying factor beneath the hectic schedule. The mind is running a thousand miles per hour and you don’t know how to make it slow down. Clean your space. Organize your desk, make your bed, put away your laundry. By making your personal space clean and organized, you’ll free your mind, as well. Plus, when you go to study or have friends over, you’ll be able to focus on that instead of being distracted by everything around you. A clean space is a happy head space.

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7. Quotes on quotes on quotes.

As random as this is, quotes are lifesavers. When you have a bad day or are simply on the verge of a break down, quotes taped to the wall, written in notebooks, stuck to the mirror, hanging from the ceiling—wherever they are, they’re helpful. Write down your top 10 favorite quotes and post them everywhere. Read them whenever you can. Live by them. They’re there to save you from Crazy Town.

8. Relax.

Sometimes, we’re just so busy that we forget to relax. I feel like I’m always running around, going to the next meeting or studying for the next exam, that I forget to enjoy the day or give myself a break. At the end of every day, set aside time to simply relax. Watch an episode of The Walking Dead or Netflix an old episode of Breaking Bad. Read a magazine or scroll through Pinterest. Whatever is the best way you will feel relaxed, do it. You deserve it. It’s been a long day. Treat yourself to a little relaxation, because not losing your sanity is worthy of celebration.

Those are 8 ways to help you stay busy without going crazy. I hope they are helpful to you! Have any other tips you’d like to share, comments, or suggestions? I’d love to hear them! Comment below or Tweet me!

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Last Updated on November 3, 2020

How to Use the Prioritization Matrix When Every Task is #1

How to Use the Prioritization Matrix When Every Task is #1

It takes being productive to get things done correctly and on time. So how do you know which tasks are essential and which can wait? The answer is in the Prioritization Matrix, also known as the Eisenhower Matrix.

The matrix took its name after Dwight David Eisenhower.

Eisenhower was a general in the US army and the 34th President of the United States from 1953 to 1961. As a five-star general and a Supreme Commander in the US Army, he drafted the strategy for an Allied invasion of Europe.[1]

Eisenhower had to make tough decisions every time about which tasks to prioritize out of many he needed to focus on daily. So, he came up with the famous Eisenhower Matrix, or the Prioritization Matrix.

What Is the Prioritization Matrix?

The Prioritization Matrix is a tool for rating your tasks based on urgency. It helps you know the critical activities and those tasks that you should bypass and can be useful in project management, small businesses, or personal tasks.

Eisenhower famously said of the matrix:

“Most tasks that are urgent are not important, and most tasks that are important are not urgent.”

This quote became the maxim for Eisenhower in managing his time.

There are four quadrants in the Prioritization Matrix, which help in comparing choices of what to do first and last, allowing you to prioritize projects and create strategic plan[2].

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Eisenhower Matrix Template

    The quadrants are:

    • Do
    • Schedule
    • Delegate
    • Eliminate

    Do

    Do is the first quadrant in the Prioritization Matrix, and it incorporates important activities. That is, those tasks you need to carry out urgently — crises, deadlines, and issues that need your urgent attention and are highly relevant to your life mission.

    Hw do you know which task falls into this quadrant?

    Start by analyzing your priorities, and then establish if it falls within the ‘do it now’ criteria. If the task is achievable within a day, or within 24 to 48 hours, it’s urgent.

    Another approach you can adopt in prioritizing tasks in this category is to adopt the “eat the frog” principle by Mark Twain. This principle recommends that you do the most urgent activities as soon as you wake up.

    Here’s a practical example.

    Let’s say you need to draft a content strategy and submit a report to your manager. It’s Saturday, and the deadline for submission is Monday. Can we say the activity is urgent? Definitely!

    Schedule

    The second quadrant of the prioritization matrix is Schedule. The Prioritization Matrix classifies tasks in this category as important but not that urgent.

    They are long-term objectives and tasks with no immediate deadline. Those tasks could include meditation, journaling, studying, family time, and exercising.

    You can plan out activities in this quadrant for some other period. For instance, you should exercise for good health, but you can allocate time to do it.

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    Schedule these activities in such a way that they don’t transfer to the “Do” or “Urgent” quadrant. Ensure you have sufficient time to carry them out.

    Delegate

    The third quadrant of the prioritization matrix is Delegate.

    These tasks are not important to you but are quite urgent for others. This is where teamwork comes into play.

    You can technically perform tasks in this category, but it makes sense to delegate them. Delegating tasks will ensure you have more time to pursue activities in your first two quadrants.

    You should also monitor the tasks you have delegated. It will only amount to a sheer waste of time if you don’t have a tracking system for delegated tasks.

    Eliminate

    The last quadrant highlights your productivity killers. They are tasks that are not important to your goals and not urgent. The only way to boost your productivity is to eliminate them.

    Some examples are constantly checking your phone, watching movies, or playing video games.

    They could also be bad habits that you need to identify and delete from your daily and weekly schedule.

    Successful people have learned how to prioritize and stick to what’s important. They have learned to find a better person for a task or eliminate less significant tasks.

    Let’s consider two inspiring personalities that have designed their prioritization system.

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    Warren Buffet developed a two-list prioritization model to determine which task deserves his best attention. The bottom line is bypassing things that are important and useful but not top of the priorities.

    Mark Ford, a business advisor, marketer, self-made millionaire, and author devised his strategy:

    “Start work on the most crucial priority, take a break, work on the second most important task, take a break, then sort out the less important activities and any tasks he received from other individuals by afternoon.” [3]

    How to Use The Prioritization Matrix

    Using the Prioritization Matrix can be tricky if you’re new at it, but by following a few simple steps, you can learn to utilize it in the best way possible.

    1. List and Rank Your Priorities

    Highlight all the tasks you need to carry out in a day. Then, classify them with weighted criteria based on urgency and importance.

    Identify any activity that requires prompt action. I’m referring to a task that if you don’t complete that day, it could produce a grave consequence. For instance, if you don’t submit your content strategy, other content writers cannot work. It means you need to check for high-priority dependencies.

    2. Define the Value

    The next step is to examine the importance and assess which of them impacts your business or organization the most. As a rule of thumb, you can check which tasks possess higher priority over others. For instance, you need to attend to client’s requirements before you take care of any internal work.

    You can also estimate value by examining how the task impacts the people and customers in the organization. In a nutshell, the more impact a task has on people or the organization, the higher the priority.

    3. Take out the Most Challenging Task

    Procrastination is not a symptom of laziness, but avoidance is. The truth is that you will typically avoid tasks you don’t want to do. The former CEO of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, once said he would take out the most dreaded task first thing when he got to the office.

    Brian Tracy called these tasks the frogs you need to eat. That will remove the nagging dread, which mounts pressure on you when you postpone necessary tasks[4]. This is where the Prioritization Matrix can help; eat the “Do” frogs immediately.

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    If you need help overcoming procrastination, check out this article.

    4. Know What’s Important to You

    As long as you are in this cosmos, you will always encounter different choices that may be contradictory to your goals. For instance, a fantastic promotion that requires excessive travel will isolate you from important relationships. If you are not priority-conscious, you may accept it, even though your family is your priority.

    Therefore, it makes sense to identify what is important to you and to prepare yourself not to compromise those important things for immediate pleasure or gain.

    Yogi Berra captioned it this way:

    “If you do not know your destination, you might end up somewhere else.”

    5. Establish Regular “No Work” Time

    YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki established a rule not to check her emails between 6 pm and 9 pm. According to a CNN Business report, she was the first woman to request maternity leave when Google just got started. She prioritizes dinner time with her family despite being the CEO of YouTube[5].

    Is it possible to cut out time for our relationships and interests outside of work?

    Of course, and that’s why you need to set out your “no work” time. This approach will enable you to renew your energy levels for the next task. Also, you will be in the best position to introspect as you are not in your usual work zone.

    6. Know When to Stop

    You can achieve everything on your list sometimes. After you have prioritized your workload and assessed your estimates, remove the remaining tasks from your priority list and focus on your most urgent and important tasks.

    Conclusion

    It’s not enough to be successful at work. Ensure you make out time for your family and an important relationship in your life.

    Getting started and finding time may be tricky, but with some practice using the Prioritization Matrix, you’ll find that you are more productive and better able to divide your time between the things that are important to you.

    More Tips on Prioritizing

    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

    Reference

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