Collage idea by Nicole Colucci; original images by Karolina Grabowska, Momentmal and Nicole Köhler from Pixabay
Nicole Colucci gives advice on how to get the most out of our days in isolation
At the start of lockdown, I was finding it extremely difficult to find a perfect balance between each of my school subjects, wider reading, daily exercise and free time to plough through my endless reading and watch-lists.
After enquiring how my friends had been getting on, I was not surprised to hear that they were also struggling to manage the workload we are far from used to.
It can be difficult to find the motivation to make the most of each day. Sometimes, timetables and to-do lists are not enough to escape our procrastination. However, lockdown is the perfect opportunity to start experimenting with new methods to improve our productivity and make the most of our time.
Here are some of the things I have found helpful when adjusting between my schoolwork and free time.
• To motivate yourself, work for five minutes only
Most of the time, you will end up going for much longer. Even if this isn’t the case, you have still been productive for five minutes as opposed to none. I tend to use this method for long pieces of writing such as English essays and articles for Exposure (including this one) and I often write for much longer than five minutes to ensure I can note down all my ideas before I forget them.
• Timetable your work each day and not each week
A common error made when constructing timetables is planning tasks a week in advance. Instead of committing to an unachievable amount of work for the week, try setting overall weekly goals instead and only making a to-do list for each day. This way, you’ll be more likely to stick to plan as you will be able to schedule any last minute activities into your timetable. I like to write my to-do lists the night before so that I can include any new work that may have been set late.
• Plan for distractions or unforeseen errands
It is important to schedule time for distractions, like an unexpected phone call, as well as other tasks into your agenda to avoid missing your deadlines. Typically, I schedule one or two hours of distractions into my daily plan so that I will not fall behind on my work if I get diverted by an errand or chore around the house.
• Find your productive hours
Everyone has a certain time in the day when their performance is at its peak – mine is the evening. As a result, I often schedule my free time into the morning where I will bake, practice nail art or go for a walk. Try to figure out your most productive hours and plan your schedule accordingly.
• Group similar tasks together
Instead of multitasking or switching between activities, group tasks of a similar nature together so that they can be completed in the same sitting. Perhaps you could dedicate one day to a particular subject to make the most of your resources. For example, every Monday I dedicate the day to Business Studies where I complete work set by my school, answer exam style questions and respond to feedback from my teachers.
• Share your goals with a friend or family member
This will make your goals more achievable as you will be inclined to share your success with this person. I’ve found discussing the progress of my work with my classmate, Kat in a weekly video call helps to motivate and encourage us both.
• Invest time learning keyboard shortcuts
If you spend a lot of time working on a computer, using simple keyboard shortcuts (for example, ‘ctrl-c’ instead of ‘copy’) has been proven to save the average computer user a staggering 64 hours per year.
It is important to remember that some days you will achieve more than others and you should not feel disheartened by this. Taking regular breaks to relax and restore energy is vital.
I like to relax by reading books and magazines, watching Netflix and having Zoom calls with my friends. All these things help me unwind and give me something to look forward to after a day of hard work.