Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Ways of Working

So I thought that today I would share some of the ways in which I work and organise myself. This is not to say that these are the best ways to work- they’re just the ways that work for me.

Firstly I have to have a ‘To Do’ list. At the beginning of everyday I tend to write myself out a list of the major things I want to get done in the day. This can range from ‘do the washing’, to ‘write 500 words on chapter one’ etc... I find that setting myself small goals for the day and ticking them off as I go makes me feel far more accomplished and productive by the end of the day. If I reach a stage on one of things I want to write, and just get a block I will move on to one of the more mundane tasks on my list and accomplish that before going back to my university work.

With regards to getting written work done, I find that one of the best things I can do is set myself ‘word count’ targets for everyday. This gives me something to aim for and a place to stop at the end of the day. Without this goal of a certain amount to do, I find that I can keep on writing but don’t ever really feel like I have finished or achieved anything.

I also set out certain days of the week to do certain things. Due to the way in which my course is structured I am currently writing a 9000 word dissertation and doing a year long ‘special subject’ course. For this semester I have to produce a 6000 word essay and a 3000 word source analysis for this ‘special subject’ unit. I order so that I can work equally and steadily on both aspects of the course I have divided my week up between the two. So on Monday and Tuesday I do only dissertation work and try not to touch the special subject. On Wednesday I do seminar prep for my class on Thursday and a little bit of the written work for my special. On Thursday I actually go to class, which because I live over two hours away from the university, takes me all day to get there and back. Finally on Friday I concentrate exclusively on the essays for the special. This is not to say that if I feel particularly inspired on one piece of work, or have a deadline coming up that I have to meet I won’t concentrate on that and ignore the plan! But having an idea set out in my head of what I am meant to be doing so that I know I can get both sides of the course done is beneficial to my peace of mind as well as my progress on my work load!

The other really important way in which I motivate myself to do work is to give myself breaks throughout the day. I have a relatively short attention span so find it difficult to work solidly for long periods of time. In order to combat this I tend to take an extended lunch break, or watch something on iplayer, or read one of the blogs I follow just so that I am not working straight through. I also make sure I have regular cups of tea, or I just get up and do one of the smaller household tasks on my to do list. I also tend to reward myself with these breaks once I have got a particular task done. This way I enjoy my days more, whilst also getting the important things that I have to do done.

Although all of this sounds very regimented it makes me feel freer in the sense that I am not longer worrying about getting everything done- because I’m working to a plan which I know will allow me to complete all my work.

So here is what I would like to know- call me curious, call me nosey I would like to know how other students organise their time! How do you make sure that you get all your work done with a minimum of stress? What patterns or techniques do you use to accomplish this? Please share your stories in the comments.

Thank you!

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