Recently, one of my friends was stressing out about an assignment that was due the next period. She sat across from me franticly scribbling answers on her paper and looking back and forth between her friends paper and her own. When she finally finished, she set down her pen, looked at me and exclaimed “I just don’t know how you do it, how do you get things done so far in advance?” When I thought about her question, I realized the truth is that I don’t know. Why did I always HAVE to make sure my assignments were done the day they were given? Like anyone else I loved to spend hours on Tik-Tok or watch Netflix, but somehow I always prioritized getting work done.
I don’t handle stress well. If I have a big project due and I only start it the night before, the anxiety sets in and I start to doubt myself. That’s why, for me, creating a plan, whether it’s for school work, writing music or a blog post helps me to feel on top of things.
Although not everyone works the same, I find that there are a few key ways to building a better work ethic and getting everything you need to do done.
There are many different ways to prioritize, so you’re going to have to find a way that works for you. Since I love to write and physically see all the things I need to do, every morning, I write out a “to-do list”. You can do this in a planner (which I HIGHLY recommend investing in) or in any other notebook. The key is to not overwhelm your to-do list. Instead of writing ten different things you need to get done today, write three-five things. Especially when you start making your lists, it is important that you don’t set yourself up for failure. You can even break up your tasks into smaller goals. For example, instead of saying “write English essay”, you can always replace it with something smaller like “write introduction for English essay”, you may find that once you start writing your introduction, you will end up writing the entire thing. I also recommend creating both a weekly and daily to-do list. Plan what you need to get done this week and figure out what you’re going to do each day (be sure that you are not planning to do anything the day before it is due. Instead try doing it a few days in advance, and as you get new assignments throughout the week, plan to do them the day they are assigned).
2. CREATE A SCHEDULE
Just like creating a to-do list, creating a schedule is equally important. A schedule means knowing what you are going to do everyday and setting aside time in that for doing things that are important to you (like homework and studying). When you create your schedule, take into account which days you are busiest and which days you are more free. Try to balance your work, and plan to do most of it on the days where you are not too busy.
3. KNOW YOUR WEAKNESS
A large part of a slacking work ethic is procrastination. I know first hand that it is very easy to procrastinate, especially now with social media, movies, Facetime, etc. However, the key to beating procrastination is to recognize it. Know your weaknesses. Do you tend to procrastinate by scrolling through Instagram? Watching “one more episode”? Sleeping? Figure out how you put off your work, and once you do that, you can figure out exactly how to stop it. The best way to let go of distractions in my opinion, is to physically forbid yourself from engaging in them. For example, if you know your weakness is Instagram, log out of Instagram for an hour or thirty minutes and devote that time to studying. You could even give your phone to a parent and tell them not to give it back until a certain time. This will get you to sit down and get work done, just remember to reward yourself with some time on Instagram after you’ve finished.
4. FIND MOTIVATION
No matter how much you try to improve your work ethic, sometimes it just feels like “what’s the point?” Why should you finish that assignment two days in advance when you could just get it done the day before? The truth is that unless you find your own WHY, you will never really be motivated to get stuff done. My why, is that being organized and productive makes me feel good and more stress-free. It also is a large factor of why I am able to keep generally good grades. Maybe your “why” is because you would rather spend your weekends with friends or that you want to develop good habits that will help you later in life. In addition to creating a “why”, try to find a person who inspires you. Think of someone in your life (a friend, sibling, online creator, etc.) that is always on top of things. Look at how productive they seem. Every time you are struggling with your work ethic, ask yourself, “what would ____ do?”
5. REAP THE BENEFITS
Anything difficult in life is always hard to start, but remind yourself that once everything is done, you will feel accomplished, productive and happy. When you create a good work ethic for yourself, you will begin to notice that your stress levels decrease, you can get more sleep and time to do other things you love, and you will carry it around with you for the rest of your life. Remember that these tips are not only for school, they apply for anything that constitutes living a more productive life. And, next time someone you know is stressing about an upcoming deadline, you can feel good knowing that you’ve finished it, and now can help them.
I hope this inspires you to boost your productivity and work ethic. These skills are great to have for the upcoming school year, especially now that many of us are choosing to learn at home. Keep working hard, you’re doing great, and know that it will all pay off!
Happy Living 🙂