We are wallowing in what I call "The November Lull," a pre-hibernation period that includes: snack napping (snacking followed by napping), energy conserving, working hard at doing nothing and a general aura of laziness.
This November's hiatus proves to be nothing new. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the poetic personification of November has continuously been refereed to as grey, gloomy and foggy.
The Lull has proven to be a very ineffective condition. The semester foreshadows a tail-spinning end, and I'm going to be left unprepared for the crash landing. November is the beginning of the end. 2014 is just around the corner. This is no honorable way to end the year — not with a bang, but a whimper.
Inspirational words are understandably not cutting it anymore, so here are what the 'experts' are saying about increasing productivity through a common method: to-do lists.
According to LinkedIn.com, only 11 percent of professionals were able to accomplish everything on their do-to list on an average workday. Since to-do lists are not functioning in the way we need them, consider altering them.
Start with writing them down on a simple thing. "What gets written down gets done," is a common expression for a reason. Write your list on something ordinary, such as a note card, post-it note or a page in your notebook. Reinforce the average lifespan of your to-do list — one day.
Follow the 1-3-5 rule. Assume that on any given day, you can accomplish one big mission, three medium tasks and five small things. Although having nine things to do in a day might sound daunting, my attempt with this strategy was actually incredibly helpful. Everything I wanted to do in a day could be compressed into nine lines, including the personal things like people, naps and me time.
A further step for visual people like me could be accomplished by making my No. 1 the largest, followed by smaller and smaller font sizes complete with little check boxes next to all of them.
Every to-do list action should also include a verb. "Make appointment," "write paper" and "go on a run." A frequent problem with to-do lists is sometimes writing down everything we need to do feels like we have already accomplished it. By writing your to-do list down with two things in mind — future and action — this problem can be ceased.
Another cognition hiccup is known as the Ziegarnik Effect. Bluma Zeigarnik, a psychologist and psychiatrist, recognized people are more attached to unfinished actions, and the mind will suffer from denying it completion. This effect can cause our mental and physical health to suffer too. To alleviate your mind from this draining symptom, simply finish all your tasks.
Mental energy is something to keep in mind when you head out to cross off your list's contents. Mental energy is cycled throughout the day, and when we are making lots of decisions, we are left with decision fatigue.
In attempt to cut corners around this problem, try laying out your clothes the night before. It will defuse the groggy tension of early morning decision-making, which we all suck at. Big projects should be done on days when you don't have to make lots of other decisions.
Brian Dosal wrote on a productivity blog about something he realized while traveling. Being on an airplane equals hours of forced productivity. While on an airplane you cannot receive texts, emails or get up and distract yourself. Now he dedicates one day a week to pre-planning his 'flight' and turning off all media devices. He forces x-amount of productivity on himself.
My final advice is coffee and the library. Coffee is an acceptable, useful drug, my friends – get addicted. And the library is a wonderful place of community and productivity. When you see others being productive, it's inspiring. Let's be honest – being at home just yields snack-napping.
Julie Mrozinski is a junior in English. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.