Going Into a New Term with a Productive Mindset | Productivity Tips

Now I am very much they type of person who loves new stationary, especially when it comes to starting a new term. However, being away from all my usual bits and pieces (I’m studying from home rather than at my flat this term) meant I had to find new ways of finding productivity rather than being wasteful and buying everything new.

I might add that yes I am that person who finds motivation through the likes of a new notebook, don’t judge me okay?

So because I know a lot of people are in this predicament and it’s just been generally difficult to find productivity when stuck in lockdown at the start of a new year, I thought it would be useful to share some of my tips. I am by no means an expert but if it can help one person then why not, right?

Taking in Information

Retaining information when you’re not in the mood can be difficult at the best of times but for me, when I am reading a lot of books every week, I tend to forget very quickly what any of them are about. So this year I bought a small notebook to write little synopses and any questions out as soon as I finish it. This way I am writing my thoughts as they occur rather than dwelling on them.

Now don’t think this is purely useful just for me, moulding this for your own tasks/reading etc. can be important in giving you more headspace and a better long term memory.

Another good tip is to step away, just like with sleeping, if you can’t do it then don’t force it. Take a break; go have a dance, a walk or a snack. Most likely you’ll come back in a better mindset.

Create a Routine

You are probably sick and tired of hearing this but genuinely creating yourself a routine will help everything else come into place. Whether that is a routine for your day or a routine in the long term for tasks that need to be done. I set out to work 9-5 each day so I can have the weekend off (this sometimes changes depending on how I am feeling or how much work I have) but I also create a routine for my reading. I know what books need to be read when so I usually set out a plan for when I should read them by or if I need to start exceptionally early.

Routine effectively alleviates unwanted stress while getting your week off to the best possible start. It may sound repetitive but I promise it helps.

Online Planning

You may have heard a lot of people using an app called Notion lately and I promise it is worth it. I’ve only recently downloaded it after my laptop was decreasing in storage very quickly. So I use Notion to write notes for uni, journal online, write out plans for my website and Instagram and do write ups on my books. I’m hoping it will turn around my way of studying and since everything is well organised and in one place it is really easy to use.

Clearly you can use it for all aspects of life, it also gives you templates so you can personalise your pages to how you will best use them. The combination of my little black notebook and my Notion has decreased the amount of paper I use and my storage. I highly recommend checking it out whether you are self employed, a student or are in need of more headspace.

Setting yourself Manageable Tasks

Now I know we all think we are superhuman and at the start of the day we love to think we can get everything under the sun done. However, we all know that this isn’t always the case so creating a to do list with manageable aims and outcomes will help you achieve even more than you think because you’ll actually have the time and headspace to do it.

Rather than setting yourself a goal of reading a whole book in a day for example why not set yourself little goals of reading so much before lunch and so much before dinner. Or you can divide the total pages into 7 days and read the set amount over that time. That way you aren’t over exerting yourself or having high expectations of yourself and your brain.

Likewise if you don’t want to split your tasks into parts give yourself a maximum amount of things to do in a day, three for example.

Now productivity doesn’t always come natural to everyone, it definitely ebbs and flows for me, so I think the key thing to remember is to not be too harsh on yourself. I am my own worst critic and I am definitely a perfectionist so it’s hard sometimes to know when to step back or to recognise that I can’t do it all.

However, I also know that the work I have to do won’t go away on its own. So hopefully these suggestions will be useful, they’ve definitely helped me in the past few weeks.

If you have any productivity suggestions leave them below! I’d love to hear them and I am sure there are some lovely readers who would be grateful for some extra tips!

Much love,

Sophie x

How I am Trying to Get Out of My Mid Term Slump

Yup, it’s that time of year again. I always find once I’ve finished my first set of assessments and have to go onto the next load I get handed this big lump of demotivation and tiredness. I’m not sure if it’s a combination of the weather, impeding lockdown, online learning and general stress or a select one of these factors but I never feel ecstatic that it’s nearly Christmas or that I have a short time left in my first term.

In all honestly right now I feel stuck. I know I should be starting the mountain of work I have due but I know that it’s a huge task and therefore I put it off for as long as possible (clearly I am a model student). Reading that back it just feels like I am extremely overwhelmed (that’s probably correct).

I also know that I am not the only one feeling this way and that actually it’s probably pretty normal.

Now instead of moaning (which I am also very good at) I thought I’d round up the ways in which I can improve my situation and try and find my mojo again. I know there are certain things I can do to make me feel more motivated which hopefully I can help you with as well.

Whether that is for work, studying or just getting you in the mood to do something productive, here is a list of things you can do to help.

Remove Yourself From Your Space

I know you might be thinking that this is a bizarre thing to suggest seeing I am trying to motivate you to do something productive rather than run away from it. However, one of the best things you can do if you feel stuck in your work is to go a quick walk or have 15mins to make yourself some tea and talk to a friend. I would recommend not going on your phone during this period so you can switch your brain off.

I find a lot of the time that removing myself from the negative space I’ve created around my work makes me feel better when I come back to it. You might also find that this makes you look at your task in a different way as well.

Find Motivation in Other Peoples Content.

As a creative person who enjoys watching the likes of YouTube I often feel myself being surprised at how motivated I get through other people working or ‘vlogging’. Watching other people be productive spurs me onto do my work and makes me realise it’s not half as bad as you think.

Content Creators I recommend you check out are;

I feel like this specific segment goes hand in hand with suggesting that having a break is always a good idea. With online learning making you stare at a screen for the majority of the day, picking up a book for 15mins can also be beneficial for resetting your brain. I’ve been finding more often than not my eyes have begun to hurt because of the length of time I am required to sit in front of a screen. So, if you can find ways to reset your brain that don’t involve a screen I highly recommend you try it. Even if its a quick doodle on a random piece of paper!

Have a Dance Party

As much as I would love to input a photo of myself having a dance party in my room by myself, I don’t think I would ever live that down. So, instead I recommend you get up from your desk/workspace and put on your favourite playlist for 10mins and just dance. When you’re stuck at your desk for a long period of time getting up and moving can make the world of a difference. Plus jamming out to your favourite music supplies you with some great endorphins to boost your mood (if you can get your flatmates etc. to join in then that is even better).

This is also beneficial for when your work space isn’t clean and is obstructing your quality of work. Set a timer for 20 mins, put your headphones in and clean for that solid amount of time. This way you are having a break, singing until your heart is content and being productive. 3 things which can all hugely improve your state of mind when you get back to work.

Stay Away From Your Bed

I know a lot of students will be working from their bedrooms which provides a great view of your extremely comfy bed (me being one of them). However, as soon as you go near it you’ll be laced with the need to sleep or to get more comfortable. Two things which will not make you feel productive. Your bed should be a zone for sleeping so marking it off as a no go zone during the day is the best way to go. This should help both your quality of sleep and your level of productiveness.

I’m also aware that I am no saint when it comes to this. I do have days where I will get into bed and not want to leave it. However, from one seasoned professional to another, just don’t do it. I have learnt that studying from bed has more negative affects than it does positive and if you simply can’t stay away, do your work in another room. You can thank me later.

Listen to Your Body and Plan Your Day.

Setting yourself reasonable tasks to do (3 is a good place to start) will start your day out in a good way and will clear your head of the work you have to do. When I say 3 tasks make sure you break them down into ones which are achievable. For example, rather than writing a whole essay in a day break it down into paragraphs over a week.

On the other hand it is a good idea to listen to what your body needs. If you are lacking sleep work out ways in which you can improve this or if you really feel like there is no way to improve the mood you are in just don’t do the work. Schedule it in for some other time during the week and take a day off. Sometimes you just need to rejuvenate and take some time to yourself.

Respect yourself and what your body needs. Sometimes it is actually more beneficial to just understand that the work you’ll get done just isn’t worth it and will actually end up providing you with more work rather than shortening it. Instead I recommend you do something for yourself; do something creative, cook dinner or bake. This way you are still achieving something while not wallowing in your guilt (trust me I have been there).

Nobody is perfect and I can assure you the person you think is an A* student or works all day in the office and into the night isn’t. We are not made to be like machines. Taking care of yourself is also important. Being productive comes hand in hand with looking after yourself.

I am going to try and be kinder to myself when it comes to my workload. Feeling guilty over it will not do you any good and you’ll soon find having a more positive outlook to even the negative days will make your work a lot better.

I hope these tips are useful and if you have any extra recommendations leave them below!

Much love,

Sophie x

p.s. I came out with a new launch of prints at the weekend so if you fancy checking them out you can find them here.

Weekly Thoughts: Online Learning, Covid and Finding Balance

I’m back with another weekly thoughts post so I can update you on what has been going on in my life and why I’ve been a bit distant on this platform. Even if covid is still ruling our lives (ruining it would also be highly applicable at this point), more than I wish to admit, I don’t think I’ve ever been so stressed.

You might have noticed I’ve had to scale my posts right back to once a week. A decision I didn’t want to have to make but unfortunately I genuinely don’t have the time to sit and write something, take photos, come up with interesting ideas and most importantly, come up with quality content twice to three times a week. I want you to enjoy what I write and make sure it is worth your time to engage with. This at the moment is a lot more manageable once a week. Hopefully you understand and love the one blog post I do put out.

This annoying decision comes from the increasingly stressful lifestyle I’ve encountered after moving back to Edinburgh. I say lifestyle, it is entirely filled by one thing and that is online learning. What I’d like to call it at this very moment is, ‘the bane of my existence’. Don’t get me wrong, there are pros and cons to doing it at home, namely the chance to do it safely, which will always exceed the negatives. However, I can’t ignore the constant feeling that I am going to fail, the week of near panic attacks I had even when out and about supposedly relaxing and the impending dread of assignments which I have no idea how they’ll get done on top of the already huge amount I have to do.

So, if you haven’t already gathered the first few weeks of third year have been an absolute joy. I HAVE NEVER FELT BETTER.

You might be asking or just simply wondering if it’s just because I can’t deal with third year in general. Trust me I have thought the exact same thing. However, when your whole year feels the same and lecturers have openly admitted to giving you more work because you should have ‘more’ time, it’s hard not to get a tiny, tiny bit angry at the whole thing.

At this point I really wish there was more time in the day.

Balance on the other hand is something I’ve been trying really hard to implement because of this. I’ve never been good at looking after myself and I have a very long way to go but I’m hoping that soon (if my uni decide to be better in terms of workload) I can find a balance where I can get enough sleep in a night, don’t have to stress 24/7 and can actually take a day off. At least this way I can then sort my blog posts out, my print business can be less stressful and more enjoyable and I can generally feel better about myself.

Out of curiosity, how do you find online learning/working from home? Do you have any recommendations for finding balance? Let me know down below!

To top all of this off, this week (or the past month) has really got me frustrated at the medias perception of students and covid. Before you jump on me and start shouting at me in the comments, YES students really have not been doing a good job, mainly first years in halls. However, there are 18-23 year olds (including those both younger and older who are studying) who are trying really hard to abide by the rules. As someone who has friends and family who are high risk (who aren’t all in the older generation bracket might I add) I find it infuriating that people want to blame me for not sticking to the rules or being the cause of a second lockdown.

In fact I know A LOT of people who are older than I am, who have been a lot worse than my friends and I, when sticking to the rules.

If anything the whole thing makes me feel a bit disheartened. So please, if you are young, old or middle aged, please just do the right thing. I am sick to death of seeing my generation getting blamed, looked at or victimised in the press. But more importantly I am sick of being stuck in lockdown with the possibility of my friends and family being hit with covid.

If we all are a little bit less selfish and actually stick to the rules this can be all over with that bit quicker. Even if you somehow think you are invincible, or are ‘in a small area where it won’t touch you’ or generally couldn’t care less, take a second to think about the people who do care and who aren’t invincible. Do it for them.

I know this hasn’t been a completely upbeat post but I don’t want to paint a picture that everything is 100% great the whole time. I think if I did that you would expect the same for yourself and I don’t want that. Expectations aren’t good for anyone.

Whether you are having a good or a bad week, both are entirely valid, so don’t feel guilty for having either. If you’ve done something truly amazing let me know! Or if you, like me, have been bothered by a load of things recently or aren’t feeling great mention it in the comments. Life is crazy (especially at the moment) and that is fine!

Sending you all the hugs,

Much love,

Sophie x