Super strategies for the self

by Anna-Zoë Herr

We have all been there. We all carry at least a little bit of guilt and shame with us for not being more of a superhero, like the people who are on top of their work, have a balanced life, cook beautiful Instagram-worthy meals every night, and travel to exotic places for no money. While I can’t tell you how to be a superhero, here are a few tips to help you become more productive so you can do what feeds your soul and feel super.

1) Remember why you do what you do.

One reason why we don’t do our work sometimes is because we are stuck in the belief that we do the work for others. That we write that paper for the professor, do that math assignment for our grade, go to college for our parents, and write a resume for our future. Actually though, none but yourself is demanding anything from you. Find reasons to do what you need to do that aren’t related to an outside source. For example, writing that paper will deepen your knowledge, help you become a better writer, teach you how to think more critically, etc., all of which are amazing skills to have for yourself in your own life. Becoming the person you want to be takes work, and all the small little things you don’t want to do typically somehow help you get there. Then all your work is not work anymore, but a step towards something more.

2) Beat Procrastination.

There is probably not a single college student who hasn’t used this word at least once. It is a common theme in the work or school life, and it is mostly related to those tasks we dislike or find challenging. How can we overcome this? Author Roy Peter Clark encourages a different perspective of procrastination when he suggests that we move from the word procrastination and instead think about it as rehearsal time. Let’s say you have a paper to write and it is lingering in the back of your mind and knocking on your mental door. While you procrastinate, it is still there. So, what if you still procrastinate, but use your time thinking about it by thinking about your topic, making a mental outline, reviewing pieces of sentences and related ideas. This takes away the fear of writing, potentially even makes you excited to get started, and you already have something on hand when you sit down on your computer!

3) Adopt a strategy.

Most of us think that we can beat ourselves to work harder through guilt and pressure. We wait for deadlines to become so overwhelming that we simply have to get down to work. Somehow, we trick ourselves into thinking that we will do a better job the next time, that we will be clever enough to start early. We think that we don’t need to manage ourselves, but in reality, we kind of do. So, sit yourself down and recognize the patterns you have that don’t help you out and create a strategy for yourself. Here is what I have learned about myself: I like to work with the Pomodoro timer (I use an app called “Tide” which I love) and I work better in the mornings because I just get slower and more distracted at night. I also noticed that when a lot of projects are happening at the same time, it helps me to work a little bit on all of them over a longer period of time, instead of working solely on one thing and trying to finish it before moving on to the next one. What are strategies you use?

Anna-Zoë Herr is a senior studying art and global perspectives, with a minor in sustainability. This is her last semester and she is spending most of her time either working on her capstone, investigating how creative literature and sustainability connect, or she is talking about it. Writing and reading have been a passion of hers ever since she was very young, and currently her favourite word is serendipity.

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