I don’t know about you, but I LOVE trying new things to make my life easier.
I also HATE having tons to do on my (so few) off days.
So I got to thinking: maybe there’s a way to make the tasks go by a little faster. This week, I’ve been busy trying to craft rough drafts for a scholarship application. That’s why I was excited to try three different methods. With school around the corner, I thought these might help you too!
The Pomodoro Method
The Pomodoro Method works by having you complete one task at a time in intervals, with small breaks, and then a larger break, in between. For me this consisted of twenty-five minutes of work on one essay, followed by a five minute break. I repeated this work interval about four times and then I gave myself a longer, fifteen minute break, before starting my twenty-five/five cycle again.
Honestly… it didn’t work super well for me. I felt like the breaks were disrupting my “work flow.” I also kept getting distracted on my breaks, and it was extremely hard to go back to work. By the time I reached the point where I could take a fifteen minute break, I let loose and procrastinated for about two hours. Just being real with you.
Despite my experience with this, I don’t think it’s a bad strategy. I just think that this might work better for shorter tasks that realistically can be completed within an hour or so simply because the intervals can become tiring. I found myself just wanting to continue working past the twenty-five minute mark out of desperation to hurry up and finish, because I knew I had a lot to write ahead. If this isn’t the case for you, this might be worth a try.
In the future, I might do a modified version where I CAN do the intervals if I choose, but if I feel like working past the twenty-five minute mark I won’t stop myself. That way, if I get to the longer break and feel the need to extend it, it’ll counterbalance how much work I’d been doing.
Eating the Frog
Okay, I just need to make it clear that I DID NOT actually eat a frog. That’s not what this implies. Instead, “eating the frog” refers to doing the hardest task on your to-do list first.
For me, this was simple. The hard part about these scholarship essays is that they weren’t the only tasks on my to-do list. I go to work, I have chores, I write for this website (haha!), and a lot more. I have days where I’m tempted to do next to nothing because the SIGHT of my to-do list makes me want to scream (not all of the tasks, just how MANY of them there are, mixed in with a few I absolutely detest… I’m looking at the laundry pile I still have to fold and put away…). So I thought maybe this would help me prioritize and at least tackle the scariest sooner.
Of course, the hardest task was my essays. Though I don’t mind doing them, it can be challenging and daunting to start. On some days, this method worked great. I worked on my essay as I had planned to and felt a sense of gratification and like the anxiety around the task melted away. On other days… I actually felt LESS productive than if I had chosen something easier first. This was because I so badly didn’t want to work on my essays I would put them off, and because I was supposed to do them first, that meant putting everything else off.
In the future, I think there’s a less intense way to go about this. Maybe instead of eating the whole frog, I could just eat the legs. (Sorry about that mental image). But perhaps gaining some momentum on that one task that makes the pit of your stomach fill with anxiety, just thinking about it will make it seem more palatable later. This is almost like combining this method with Pomodoro, but whatever works for you!
The GTG (Getting Things Done) Strategy
This one intrigued me. Instead of giving a specific time limit or order to completing tasks, this strategy deals with what you’re completing in and of itself. It revolves around tying up loose ends on your to-do list and finishing larger projects before moving on to something else.
I’ll admit, I did a VERSION of this. I completed tasks on a day by day basis. I set out how much I wanted to complete everyday, and then I didn’t stop and start anything else until I reached my endpoints.
And… I LOVED IT! I felt like it let me hit my stride on everything I started and I felt especially accomplished saying I didn’t have to even think about certain tasks for the rest of the day.
Though I think this would work well for anyone, I caution you to be wary of overworking or underworking yourself. You DO NOT have to conquer the world in a day. But also… make sure that you aren’t chunking up the work into segments so small that you end up getting next-to-nothing done. Try your best to set reasonable goals. Analyze not just your day, but your week, month, and any deadlines in between or after.
I learned a lot this week about my work style. I also learned to give myself grace if I didn’t get EVERYTHING done. There are multiple ways to be successful. Overall, I think I was especially productive because I simply enjoyed mixing things up. Maybe if you have a lot to do and you’re stuck in a rut, trying one of these methods will be just what it takes to learn something new about yourself, or just to bring some excitement into your to-do list.
Check out more productivity articles by GirlSpring contributors!