Now that the summer is winding down and you’re getting back into the swing of classes and your favorite fall activities, it’s time to focus in and kick productivity into gear. If you’re looking to get the most out of what this semester has to offer, you’ll be way better off if you can avoid some of the unnecessary distractions in your daily life.
As you’re getting settled into your class schedule, it will seem like there are a million things to do and there’s never enough time to do all of them. You can help make it all easier to manage by simplifying some of the things you do on a regular basis, like managing finances, checking email and social media, and scheduling your study and research times throughout the week.
If you’re already feeling a bit overwhelmed with the prospect of making it through while doing everything you want to for the next few months, here are some tips that may help you get organized and stay on top of things.
Set Times For Intentional Social Media and Email Usage
While it might seem like short checks on social media aren’t affecting your ability to focus, it’s very likely that they are. Each time you get pulled away from whatever you’re working on, you have to work extra hard to get back on track and get into the flow again.
While the distractions may be a few minutes here and there, they add up to huge amounts of time throughout the day–the average smartphone use in the US is over four hours per day.
Even more so, it’s not just the time spent checking our phones that distracts us. In fact, a recent study shows that even having your phone visible to you reduces your cognitive capacity for other tasks.
The best way to handle this is to set times when you plan on browsing social media and check your email each day. The set times can be as frequent as you find necessary, but I usually do up to one hour at 8 AM, and then another hour at 4 PM.
I find that this particular schedule gives me the opportunity to get back to people quickly if they’re expecting a fast response, while not disrupting my entire day. This will allow you to get into a deeper focus whether you’re studying, working on a project, or even just relaxing a bit—whichever you’re doing, it’ll be more effective without the quick checks.
Consolidate Your Finances and Due Dates In One Place
Between bank accounts, credit card statements, financial aid, and rent payments, things can get pretty hectic just trying to keep it all in check. Instead of trying to track everything separately, you’ll be much better off and much less likely to miss a due date or overdraw your account if you can see everything in one place.
Not only will you be able to see all your due dates and transactions in one place, but you’ll have a simplified view of your entire financial picture. If you’re working on maintaining a budget, being able to see how small purchases add up to affect your net worth will motivate you to make more positive changes in your life as well.
Mint is obviously a great option to do this, because you can syndicate all of your accounts in one place, manage your credit score, keep track of bills, and specific financial goals. This means that you’re less likely to be distracted by emails and notifications from a ton of different banks and financial institutions, instead getting everything you need to know in one place.
Simplify Your Week By Batching Your Days
If you’re managing a full class schedule, things can get pretty crazy while managing project deadlines and test prep. You can minimize distractions throughout your week by batching as many activities as possible each day. If you can make each week as similar as possible, you’ll get into a rhythm of knowing exactly what you need to focus on each day to get everything done.
For example, if your classes tend to fall on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Mondays can consistently be research and study days, Wednesdays can be project work at the library, and Fridays can be saved for more administrative/catch up tasks before the weekend arrives. The more consistent you are, the more you’ll know in advance what needs to get done each day and what can be put off for later in the week for its appropriate day.
In the end, what’s important is that you do the best you can, have fun, and get the most out of your experience at school. To do that, try using these tips to minimize as many distractions as possible so you can focus on what’s really important to you each day.