How to Plan While the World Remains Crazy

Well, here I sit again. To think that it was almost exactly a year ago that I was rushed home on a flight to New York, unaware that I would be stuck at home for six months. Now I am home again, for the foreseeable future, until the University allows us to return to campus and it is safe to say that I am feeling defeated at best. As I am surrounded by the familiar scene of my hometown, one thing I have tried to keep in mind is how much I have learned over the past year: how to maintain perspective, how to make even the simplest things meaningful, and how to have a semi-normal routine when the world feels like it’s on fire. So if you’re like me and feeling stuck and unmotivated, I hope these tips might help pick you up and inspire you to feel able to plan once more, even to a small extent.

Create an organization system

I am someone who needs everything to be written down or logged in some way, otherwise, I will most likely go crazy. I also find that I tend to be more forgetful when I’m at home, so making sure that I have time in my schedule to organize myself is crucial. I have started using a bullet journal and the app Notion for a lot of my planning and organizing, but there are plenty of other methods you can use. Using these productivity worksheets has also helped to give me inspiration on how to structure my day and do it effectively. Even just writing out a to-do list for the day helps me to stay on schedule. I also tend to use Sunday as my rest day, which is when I write out everything I need to do for the week ahead. I find that when my days are planned out for me, I feel a lot less frustrated with myself, and at the world in general. So, whether you’re a Type A planner or someone who is more go-with-the-flow, creating a way to keep yourself on top of everything may help you feel more motivated. 

Make a daily routine you actually like

Every morning I drive to Dunkin Donuts and get an iced coffee to start the day. Is it the most fiscally responsible decision? No. But, the world is a bit insane right now, so if getting myself a coffee makes me feel better, I’m going to do it. While this tip may seem like the most obvious and boring piece of advice, it really has helped me to have a sense of control in spite of everything going on. Maybe your routine is going for a morning walk and listening to a podcast (Morbid is my favorite right now) or making yourself some tea and watching an episode or TV before starting work. Whatever it is, creating a routine that you can look forward to ensures that you have a moment of self-care every day. 

Keep track of the things you want to do while stuck inside

I stand by the fact that lockdown does not have to be a flurry of productivity if you don’t want it to be. But at the same time, being stuck in the same place can give you more time to experiment with different things you may not normally have time for. For example, I like to keep a list of ideas for things that I might be interested in doing for fun, which I can turn to when I’m feeling bored or inspired to do something creative. For me, these ideas include making bracelets, writing letters, upcycling old clothes, and learning how to crochet. I’ve recently also taken to making a list of movies I want to see and putting them into a jar to randomly pick one when I’m in the mood to relax. You can also use this time to plan for a future outside of lockdown - for me, that means researching my dream post-grad trip to Australia - but it can also be as simple as planning a road trip or a fun day out with your friends. Are these things a bit lame? Maybe. But, setting creative goals helps me feel less depressed about being stuck at home. So, whether it is bingeing a new show on Netflix (I recommend Ozark) or trying a different recipe, I recommend trying out something new, no matter how simple it may be.

Hopefully, these tips will prove to be helpful; but if not, don’t stress. It’s ok to feel sad or frustrated, but it is important to remember that you’re not on your own, and that every other university student is feeling the exact same way right now. It is by no means an easy time to be a student, but the most critical thing to remember and prioritize is taking care of yourself.