How To: Turn Over a New Leaf for a Productive Semester

By Parul Agarwal

Let’s admit it — going virtual last spring was tough. Without having to leave your bed for class, walk downstairs to the dining hall for a meal, or clean your suite up to keep your blockmates happy, it’s possible that you slipped up a little bit on your daily routine. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. If you’re nervous about picking things back up for the fall, check out these tips for how to turn over a new leaf and be productive again this semester!

The KonMari Method

As the great author, organizing consultant, and television personality Marie Kondo says: “discard everything that does not spark joy.” This isn’t to say you should throw out your p-sets. However, getting organized does involve removing clutter from our lives. If you’ve got items that don’t mean much to you, but stress you out by contributing to the clutter in your room, consider tossing them out. Organizing your space can help you organize your thoughts!

Find Pset Buddies

Imagine yourself facing a choice between staying on your phone all night or starting the homework that’s due on Friday. If you’re anything like us, you’d probably pick the first option if you were planning to do that homework alone. This is where trusty pset buddies come in! A pset buddy helps keep you accountable and get you unstuck when you’ve hit a rut in your work. Find a few people that you work well with in each class, check in or Zoom with each other as you do the assignment, and watch your doing-homework-during-homework-time to watching-TikToks-during-homework-time ratio skyrocket.

Take a Break From Your Screen

Looking at your weekly screen time report may be a terrifying experience, but it really can be helpful to know how much time you’re spending in front of a laptop or phone — especially if the screen time is straining your eyes or your ability to focus. If you’ve been spending too much time with your electronics, give yourself a break to recharge. Do a screen detox by reading a physical book, taking a walk outside, or doing your math homework on paper if possible. Your mind and body will thank you!

Set Your Goals

It’s easier to be productive if you know what you’re trying to accomplish. Instead of setting out to be productive in general, create a weekly or daily list of tasks you are trying to complete. At the end of the week or day, reevaluate your list and how successful you were in meeting your goals. Maybe you got everything done, or maybe you need to cut back a little bit for next time. Either way, the best part about setting goals is that you can reward yourself when they are complete.

Hopefully, some of these tips have inspired you enough to get back to work. It’s a new semester and we are so excited about this new, productive version of quarantine you. Remember, half the challenge is getting started, and if you’re reading this right now, you’re already there. Good luck and happy first week of classes!

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