how to stay on top of things

Happy one year anniversary! This blog's very first post was published on the last day of 2014. And now, today is the first day of 2016. Time sure does fly by. 2015 was a hectic year, but I must say that it was a pretty productive one. Staying on top of things is something that I strive for earnestly on a daily basis, because it's important not only to be on track with what I must do, but also to have separate time which I can dedicate to what I want to do. So, I've whipped together a couple of tips that can help you guys feel more productive, do more, and achieve your New Year's resolutions.

O N E   /   W A K E   U P   E A R L I E R

I assure you, waking up earlier will make your days feel so much longer. And yes, I mean that changing your sleep schedule is something that you should highly consider. I'm still getting used to it, but I've realized how much better I've become in so many aspects merely because I've been sleeping earlier and waking up earlier. I accomplish more, because studying at midnight when you're groggy and unfocused is honestly pointless. Studying at 7 in the morning before class gives you the urge that you're on a time constraint (because you actually are—that 9 AM lecture cannot be skipped). Thus, you work more efficiently.

I've mentioned it before, but don't skip breakfast! More time in the morning means more time to fit in the most important meal of the day. Even if it's just a granola bar or a banana, make sure to munch on something to get the wheels turning in every system of your body.

T W O   /   T A K E   N O T E S

This is more geared towards academics: I like to take handwritten notes during lectures and while I'm studying by myself (yes, color-coded). It's been scientifically proven that writing something down physically with your own hands helps with retaining information much more effectively than typing or just listening and reading. This doesn't mean that you should copy down every word from the textbook or from your professor's mouth (not quite sure if the latter is even possible). Look for bolds and italics, look for graphs and charts, and don't forget to look for practice problems in your math or science classes. Once you have everything down, reread and go over what you've written.

Of course, this is my preference; I just wanted to share what I personally found successful. You do you!

T H R E E   /   S E L F - C O N T R O L

I don't know about y'all, but I get distracted so. So. Easily. This app for Macs, SelfControl, has saved my life. You input the websites that you want blocked on your computer and you choose a time limit. Voilà—no more Instagram or Youtube until the very hour of your history exam! PC definitely has something similar. There's no way around it whatsoever. On my phone, I simply log out of and delete all of the apps that distract me. The time that we waste scrolling mindlessly through Facebook and favoriting every tweet on Twitter is too valuable. Let's stop envying others online and let's start living our own lives in the real world.

F O U R   /   P L A N   A H E A D

Use Google Calendars. Make to-do lists. Have everything laid out in front of your two eyes. Lists are my favorite things in the world. Under my Notes app on my iPhone, I have a main daily to-do list, a homework list, a "Movies to Watch" list, a "Books to Read" list, a "Songs to Download" list, a "Restaurants to Try" list, and so much more. I know this all seems a bit OCD, but in my opinion, it really keeps you in check. Knowing when your next midterm is taking place is vital. Having a reminder that you need to send that one email comes in handy. When you finish a task, cross it off on your list. It feels great.

F I V E   /   P R I O R I T I Z E

Realize what's the most important and the least important. If you've got a job application due on Friday, finish it before going on your Wednesday night movie date (don't procrastinate). Remember to dedicate time to yourself—take breaks, but don't go overboard. Our bodies can only go so far; it's been said that concentration usually wanes at around the 45-minute mark. In the midst of hardcore studying, drop your pen and play a game of 1010! to let your brain breathe. Just one round though, because you need to get back to work. Go exercise over the weekends or watch a movie in your relaxing bed. Reward your body for pulling through a tough week, and make sure to replenish enough energy for the next one.

Be motivated! Be strong! Let's make 2016 the best year yet.
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