These are some suggestions for college students with the craziest schedules. Treat these like a buffet table: take what looks good and ignore the rest.
The Morning Ritual
A fantastic habit to get into is to do the same thing everyday for the first hour or so after you wake up.
Most people in college wake up, roll out of bed after hitting the snooze button a few times, do the essentials, and then go about their day.
The problem with this is that whatever emotional, mental and physical state you were in the night before, you will be in when you get up the next morning. You lack control over your state when you go to class in the morning.
If you implement a morning ritual, however, you have total control over your state when you get started in the morning.
Here is an example of what I do EVERY single morning.
1. Wake up, play some chillout music for 15 minutes while I lay in my bed envisioning what I want to do both big picture and small picture.
2. Drink a half a liter of water
3. Go to the bathroom
4. Drink a protein shake while browsing the news
5. Go to the gym and lift for 20 minutes
6. Return to my room and eat a delicious meal
7. Get dressed, brush my teeth, etc.
8. 5 minutes of sitting on my bed relaxing
9. 15 minutes of reading
This “ritual” takes me about an hour and a half (yours does not have to be so long or so detailed). Notice how I have things that automatically get me into a calm emotional state, a strong physical state and a focused and present mental state.
In short, I am at my peak every single morning, prepared to dominate the world.
By being at my peak, I can be productive immediately.
Create your own ritual (or copy mine, hehe). Any good ritual should have something…
– that energizes you
– that you really enjoy doing
– that reminds you of WHAT you are doing and WHY you are doing it
Some things to consider doing are affirmations, meditation, running, trampoline jumping, surfing, a morning blowjob, visualization, playing your favorite music, writing poetry, reading something inspiring and going to the gym.
Take control over how you feel when you go about your day. This small investment will give you an enormous return.
Figure out your highest leverage thing, and make that the first thing you do every day
Alright, so you’ve done your ritual. You are feeling like Superman. What now?
Take advantage of how awesome you feel and go do something that will give you the best long term results: your highest leverage activity.
For example, say you are a premed student. You need to do well on the MCAT in order to get into medical school. Therefore, preparing for your MCAT is probably your highest leverage activity, since doing well on that one thing will give you an enormous return in the future.
So, immediately after finishing your morning ritual, spend some time studying for your MCAT. Even if it is only a small amount of time before class, spend your time on this. Not only are you putting your best possible effort into the most important thing, you are getting into the “get shit done” state that will make the rest of your day really productive.
You are building positive momentum.
If you instead spend 10 minutes watching SportsCenter, you are getting into a “sit on your ass and waste time” state. This is negative momentum.
In physics, the first law of motion states that “an object in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force while an object at rest will stay at rest unless acted upon by an outside force.” The same applies to you.
Be in motion from the get-go. Spend some time on the most important thing in your life before working on anything else.
The Best Way to Block Out Your Time
As I talk about in the Study Skills Every College Student Needs article, it is best to work for a chunk of time, then to take some time where you totally disengage from work.
If you have hours of work ahead of you, you need to take this principle to the max. I learned how from Eben Pagan.
The 50/60/30 rule works like this.
Do 50 minutes of focused work
Take a 10 minute break
Do 60 minutes more of focused work
Take a 30 minute break
There is a 2:30 hour chunk right there. Stack them if you need more time.
This is far and away the most efficient way to block out your time. It maximizes the Ultradian Cycle to give you maximum focus for the longest period of time. The breaks are just long enough to rejuvenate you so that when you do work, you can work at peak efficiency.
Remember, when you take a break, try and do something that is either emotional or physical.
Manipulate your working environment
I used to do work wherever. Sometimes I would work in the library, sometimes at a coffee shop, sometimes on my bed, etc. This is fine if you do not have a super demanding workload.
However, if you workload is really demanding, you need to consciously work in an environment that has no distractions AND inspires you to create masterpieces.
If I sent you to work in a windowless room with soundproofed white walls, you would not work all that well. While there are indeed no distractions, the environment is, well, uninspiring.
If I sent you to the middle of the rainforest to write a poem, you might be really inspired to produce a masterpiece, but would be pretty distracted by the constant rain and killer bugs flying around.
You can either find places around campus that provide this for you, or you can create them yourself.
In fact, you can take this really far. One guy I interviewed for this book works 8 hours a day in his room. Around his desk he has plants, a funky light setup (He claims it inspires his soul), a fish tank and candles. His desk is one of those raised ones that allows him to stand while he works (A lot of people like to stand while they work). Moreover, he’s got some funky New Age music playing (Again, his soul) and, to top it off, he uses some kind of spray to make his room smell like the woods.
I am obviously not telling you to have the exact setup that this guy has, only to notice how he went about creating an environment that inspires him. What inspires you? Pictures? Music? Aromas? Chewing gum?
Think about it.
Plan out your work
*Gasp* “You want me to regiment my life!!!”
For most college students, this will not be necessary; however, if you have an intense workload, you need to do this.
If you have an idea of what you will be doing during your blocks of work time, it is much easier to focus because you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Moreover, the annoying voice in your head won’t be running through your to-do list since you will have already done all of that beforehand.
What do I mean by “plan out your work?”
As an example, let’s say today I need to write a 5 page paper for Psychology, read 40 pages for Sociology, and get a room for the next Squirrel Club meeting. Here’s what a “plan” will be.
I will need three 50/60/30’s. During my first 50/60/30, I will outline my paper and write exactly 3 pages. During my second 50/60/30, I will read 40 pages for Sociology. For my last 50/60/30, I will finish my paper in the first 50 minute chunk. In the 60 minute chunk, I will make the calls to get a room and then look over my paper.
It doesn’t need to be much more complex than that.
Clean the grill
This is another concept I first learned from Eben. When the restaurant closes, chefs do not just leave. First, they clean off their grill so that when they come in the next morning, they can get right to cooking. If they leave the grill dirty, then they would have to waste some time the next morning cleaning it before they can get to work.
Cleaning up yesterday’s mess kills whatever momentum you have going.
You need to do something similar to this when you are getting work done. When you are finishing a block of work, take a couple of seconds to clean everything up. For instance, if you are typing up a paper, close Microsoft Word. If you are on the web, close the web browser. If you are working at a desk, clear the desk. That way when you go to use it again, you can get right to work.
This might sound trivial, but it can make a difference. Don’t get too hung up on it unless your workload is really heavy.
Become an early riser.
If you are really, really busy, then you need to become an early riser. Humans are biologically programmed to be the most active during the day, so if you want to be most productive, you need to get out of bed early in the morning.
This is a habit required only for those with crazy workloads. If even after applying all the other habits you still find yourself overwhelmed (Unlikely for 95% of you), then you need to do this.
Of course, if you want to become an early riser anyway, by all means go ahead.
This is pretty easy to do. For 30 days straight, get up at the exact same time every morning. Do not deviate by more than 30 minutes. If you under sleep one night, you will be more tired the next night, which will make it easier to get to bed early.
After a week or so, you will be able to get up without an alarm. After a month, it will feel weird when you do not get up at that time.
Again, this is not required unless you truly are overloaded with work.