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Changes I’ve Made to be More Productive This Semester

This semester is looking to be the busiest in my college career. I have two internships, four classes, and a job where I work slightly less than part-time. Since March, when everything went indoors and online, I’ve changed a few things to make better use of my time. I suggest giving these a try if you’re having trouble staying focused lately.

1. I rearranged my space

I’m lucky enough to have a good-sized room. I don’t need to share with siblings or roommates, so I had plenty to work with. If you share a space, you can reorganize and rearrange to break old routines and establish new ones. My desk was originally facing a wall, and I noticed I was always letting my desk get cluttered and working in other areas of my house. I needed a better view and more natural lighting, so I moved my desk to face out my window and moved my bed to the other side of the room. Not only does the new arrangement make it more pleasant to get work done at my desk, but it also feels almost like a new and better room. It makes it easier to separate where I sleep and where I work. 

2. I cleaned out my room. 

I also spent the less busy days before class cleaning out every area of my room. I filled a box with books to donate to my library. I went through my closet several times and filled up a few boxes for Goodwill. I cleaned out my desk drawers, recycling old papers I had saved (like study abroad brochures from freshman orientation), and using my Notes app to scan the ones I keep on the off chance I’ll need them. I cleared all the space on top of my desk and decorated it with a jar of fake flowers and a cute old candle jar that I turned into a pencil holder. I replaced my old broken blinds with colorful curtains. I did all this slowly and over a few weeks, but it’s so much more pleasant to spend time in my room working on school and my internship now. 

3. I bought a new agenda.

I’m obsessed with stationery, journals, and planners. As soon as my old planner ran out of days, I went searching for a new one that would make me excited to write and plan in it. I found a planner from this lifestyle brand, and it’s an easy-to-use tool. It has a “My Day” side and a “To-Do” side for each weekday that I use to keep track of all my virtual meetings and due dates. I also use Google Calendar to keep track of appointments and meetings, but it is not as useful for assignment due dates. Google Tasks seems to be the best bet for those. Since Tasks don’t show up on your iPhone calendar app, they need to be tracked on the Google Tasks app separately. 

Whether you prefer writing down your important dates and to-do lists on paper or saving them on a virtual planner, make it a habit to check your planner daily so you don’t miss important dates or overbook yourself.

4. I practiced saying no. 

Turning down responsibilities has always been hard for me. I want to get involved in everything and figure out how I’ll manage it all later. With so many commitments and involvements already this semester, I had to consciously decide not to apply for things I was interested in, including an e-board position for Her Campus. 

I have also had the same job at my family’s business throughout my time in college. It has made it hard to find internships related to my major. This semester, I finally prioritized it. I’ve had to reduce my working hours drastically to commit the required 24 hours to the internship. It’s been difficult to do that knowing how much I owe to that job and my parents, but it’s important to me and my career and it’s already paying off.

Maria Duque is a senior at Florida International University majoring in Public Relations, Advertising and Applied Communications with a minor in Marketing. She is also a student in the Honors College at FIU. She is interning at rbb Communications as a digital intern, and is the Director of Accounts at BOLD FIU, a student-run strategic communications agency. She loves culture and literature, helping people and making change, so she is determined to find a career that will allow her to integrate these interests. Her favorite project is running a bookstagram account where she reviews and recommends books (linked below).
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