This week, I was challenged by Stephen Waddington and Marcel Klebba to write about my writing habits. It is something I’d never considered before. Where do I find the time and inspiration to write? How do I fit it all in alongside University?
At the moment my life is a million miles an hour, so much going on and it constantly feels like I’m jumping from one thing to the next. Throughout the year, I’ve had people ask me where I find the time to juggle this blog with University work, a social life, a job, interview prep, working out and every little thing we cram into our days. Oh, and did I miss out sleep? What’s that? When you take a look back, managing all of this seems impossible and don’t get me wrong, some days it definitely feels that way (I have a dissertation first draft and an assignment due in next week and yet I’m sat here writing this…it’s relatable right now). If there was a time for this blog post to be relevant it is right now.
But the thing is, it is all possible.
You see, we are all graced with the same hours in a day. The same hours in a day to do what as we please. I think being a student can sometimes force you into a bad habit of not making the most of your time and this is where many of the time management issues arise. I’ve never been one to just sit down and relax, I’ve always got to have a project or something to do. I can’t sit still so I guess that figures. It almost feels weird if I have nothing to do. I’m constantly busy and with the end of University in sight, at the moment I literally don’t stop. Literally.
My biggest tip for this whole idea is time management.
1. This always starts with prioritisation
This is a tricky one but the first step in feeling overwhelmed with things to do is prioritisation. It’s a crucial skill in life so the earlier you master it, the easier life will become! Write everything down you need to get done and work out when you might be able to get it all done. Split it into sections, what needs to be done first, second etc. I always find seeing my ‘to do list’ on paper helps me to realise I don’t quite have as much on as I realised and it actually can get done (most of the time).
Remember to prioritise time for yourself in there too. I’m awful for this one because I would rather spend that little bit extra time getting more done to reduce my stress levels than relax. But you have to listen to yourself and if you need an afternoon watching Netflix then you do that, just make sure you know what your goals are for the next day!
2. Be productive
There’s no point in going to the library for 6 hours if you aren’t going to use those 6 hours productively. You might as well have stayed in bed at home. It’s true. I still find this part hard, when I get stuck on something I find myself distracted and it’s about knowing yourself. I know where I best work and what distracts me.
Sometimes you just need a refocus. Recently, my ‘new thing’ (note the expression) is working out every morning, it sets me up for the day and I always feel so much better starting out my day that way. Like I say though, it is about knowing yourself. I know that I pick my phone up to just have a look on Instagram far too many times in one day. I then get my reminder from Instagram telling me I’ve spent an hour on the platform and it’s only 2pm. Oops. It makes me think of how that hour could have spent doing something more productive.
This year, I’ve tried to be up earlier and make the most of the day for doing University work and the evenings can be spent doing whatever I want. The evenings are where I escape to my own little part of the internet (aka this blog) and think about what I want to share with the world. I know that the evenings are my time to write as this is when I tend to be most reflective and blogging just seems easier then! Well…this the aim most days, just not the week before deadlines. Whatever works right?!
3. Be organised
So far, I’ve taught one of my classmates how to use OneNote and shown another two how to use their Apple calendars. It’s the small things that make all of the difference. I would be lost without my calendar. I like to see where I am and what I am doing in relation to my deadlines and commitments so I can plan the best I can to be able to do everything.
Being organised means that you can stay on top of everything. Stay on top of it whilst making the most of all the time you have. Time and final year do not go in the same sentence but the more organised you are, the less traumatic it will feel. It just means you can go out and do more things if you’re organised with your time. My first semester was spent mostly commuting due to family issues. I thought there are not enough hours in the day now, how on earth did I do first semester. The only thing I can put it down to is productivity. Know your priorities and be disciplined with yourself.
4. Inspiration comes from everywhere
Everyone gets writer’s block. I do frequently. After spending hours looking at a literature review funnily enough my brain doesn’t feel creative enough to magic up a blog post ready for the next week. I hit writers blog myself a few weeks ago whilst having some big thoughts about my future. I thought if I have so many questions, why don’t I blog about them in the form of interviews? Hence, the new blog series. The inspiration came from my experiences as I figured I wouldn’t be the only one with those questions. I learn best from others so I pulled all of that together to form a blog series.
I guess what I mean to say though that is inspiration is all around us. My blog is a way for me to think out loud and learn from others. I want it to be a place where people learn. If ideas come to me I tend to quickly write them down on my laptop or phone ready to refer back to when I need writing inspiration. They can come to me at the weirdest of times but are normally following a conversation, event or lecture that triggered me to think of a potential post. Writing them down means that I don’t forget about them. I think most creatively whilst listening to music. In fact, when I’m active, walking listening to music is when my mind wonders and where some of my ideas come from – find whatever works for you! I find the time to do it because what I write about interests me and I learn so much in doing so.
4. Keep learning about yourself
I’m in no way saying through this post that I am an expert in time management. At times I should really take my own advice, I’m merely sharing what works for me at the moment. Since coming off placement, I approach work in a different way. I study differently. We are constantly changing and so is the world around us. Being aware of yourself is the most important thing. The one thing I say to myself is I can only do as much as I can do and if I don’t get it done at least I tried my best (apart from deadlines, they can’t be moved!). The more you stick to your goals, the easier it becomes.
Now, in aid of being productive, I have a dissertation first draft to finalise so until next time!