Library in Perugia
Look! I'm being a successful student in my library in Perugia. 30 minute self-timer always starts after a selfie.

New Year, New Habits

The start of a new year, new semester, or new project always comes with new resolutions, goals, and, of course, motivation like no other. This year, this upcoming semester — and well, for the future in general — I want to adopt new habits that will help me be more successful in staying organized, motivated, and productive.

After trial and error, and some Pinterest-based research, I discovered a few approaches that might help me realize this goal of mine. Here are four habits I want to adopt to help me be more successful:

  1. Make my goals concrete.
    One way to do this is to visualize my goals by committing them to paper, whether that means writing them down or making dream/vision boards by collaging from magazines or printed pictures. Hanging physical representations of my goals around the room or other places where I can see them often will be a constant reminder. I discovered the value of this technique during my research, and it has been surprisingly effective for me. Last semester, I made a dream board about deepening my yoga practice and focusing more on school work. Seeing my goals every day kept me more motivated to work toward accomplishing them.

    Isabela's dream board

    Part of a dream board I made. Lots of focus on travels, food, and yoga!

  2. Create to-do lists … plural.
    Multiple, categorized to-do lists are another good practice. This habit is an upgrade of a classic. The key is to make kind of layered overall list of long-term goals, short-term goals, daily goals, and “today” goals. Here are a few examples. A long-term goal might be to organize your room. It is something that will be done eventually, but maybe is too big to be completed in one shot, and isn’t a priority…yet. A short-term goal might be to finish a book or paper for a class. It’s of higher priority than a long-term goal, but still might take a few times to complete. A daily goal is something you wish to do every day, maybe study 15 minutes every day for a class, or taking a daily jog. The last one is the “today” to-do list. This one is date specific, and self-explanatory. So, for the “today” goals, naturally the things that need to be completed that day are added. When list items are checked off, those on other lists can be added, in order of priority. I’ve been using this new technique for the past few weeks, and it’s definitely helped me be more focused and organized.

    Isabela's To-Do lists

    Some of my To-Do lists…

  3. Set a timer.
    The habit of setting a timer every time I study has helped me be much more productive than ever. I started setting a timer for 30 minutes, and making sure to study — phone and social media off limits — until the timer rang. This allowed me to get focused, without distraction, since I created my own, not-intimidating study rule. I found that often, when the timer buzzed, I was so focused that I studied for another 10 to15 minutes before I gave myself a little (timed) 5-minute break.
  4. Make a routine.
    This habit is so important, and it’s one I really need to get better at. Creating a routine or schedule by giving each task/goal an allotted time — and sticking to it — is definitely helpful for time management and overall success in achieving goals. It’s kind of a combination of the other three habits: visualization (setting goals and writing an actual schedule), to-do (organizing and prioritizing goals/tasks), and timing (using time management to complete tasks).

I hope this post was helpful in motivating you, too, Reader. Feel free to leave comments about how you keep motivated, organized, and productive!