Saturday Suggestion: Get up, get going

Seven tips for getting mOTIVATED

My mind wanders as I sit at the kitchen table, alternating between reading ancient Latin American history and scrolling Twitter to ogle all the pictures of the big horse races going on around the country.

One moment I’m glancing through the feats of Hernando Cortes, and the next I’m posting selfies with Songbird to Instagram, hopefully sending good juju her way before her run in today’s Grade 1 Cotillion Stakes at Parx Racing in Pennsylvania. For my readers who don’t know what a graded stake is, I highly encourage you to follow me on Instagram @annises_anecdotes, where I’ll explain it in one of my upcoming posts this week!

Back to today’s blog. While it might sound like scanning Twitter and reading history is a highly unproductive combination, I actually beg to differ. Not only did it help break up the monotony of a topic I only find moderately interesting, but changing the subject actually improved my focus.

Prior to my sitting, reading and scrolling, I woke up, baked pumpkin maple oatmeal for breakfast, washed three loads of dishes, worked out, created a checklist to guide my studying for the weekend, washed up and dove into homework. While a couple of those tasks were actually used as procrastination methods to prolong the time before I charged headlong into battle with my homework, they woke me up and kept me motivated.

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Larry and I taking a study break

As a self-proclaimed morning person who never feels like I have an accomplished day unless I check at least 10 tasks off my list, I’d like to share a few of my tips for waking up earlier and making the most of your day: 

Disclaimer: My mom is much faster than I am at getting out of bed, and her productivity eclipses my own. I’ve learned many of these tips from her… Thanks mom!

1. Create a purpose

As many of my readers already know, I have horses. The horses are fed at 6 a.m., and if I don’t get my butt out of bed and deliver their bucket of feed at that time, my mare Misty will be waiting at the gate, cussing me out with her adamant neighing. When you have a distinct reason for waking up, it tends to come more naturally. This was one of those mornings when my mom beat me to the punch and already had the horses fed by the time I got out of bed. But lucky for me, I’m also highly motivated by food, and I found a recipe last night for a type of oatmeal I wanted to make (Saratoga turned me into an oatmeal and coffee addict due to their fast and efficient fueling effects). So I leapt out of bed and had it almost completely finished by the time mom got in from the paddock. Whether its pets, food or morning yoga, set that purpose before you set your alarm.

2. Don’t hit snooze

This is a hard one that I’m guilty of. But I’m telling you, mornings are way less painful if you get up at the first ring rather than hitting snooze over and over.

3. Purposeful procrastination 

I don’t know what it is about fall, but it just makes me want to bake stuff. Right now I’m on a quest to find a healthy brownie recipe that I can non-guiltily indulge on in large quantities. I also like to use baking as a way to put off other things. My productivity increases in many other areas when I don’t feel like doing homework. Test to study for? I’ll do the dishes. Essay to write? I’ll clean my room. Portfolio to plan and type? I’ll bake something and then work out. Sure, it’s still procrastinating, but it’s productive procrastinating. I find that when my brain is overactive and I have a difficult time settling down to focus on studying, I can accomplish other tasks to organize my thoughts and put my brain in a place that’s conducive to learning.

4. Don’t get sucked into social media

I preach this a lot in my blogs, and maybe if I write it enough I’ll begin following my own advice, but once you get started scrolling, liking, retweeting and snapping, it tends to me a downward spiral. Here’s a good way to break the cycle. Before a big assignment, important test, something big you have to accomplish, just delete those apps. Out of sight, they’re out of mind. Once I’ve spent a few days without them and I re-download, my addiction has gone away because I quit “craving” the mindless brainwashing effects that social media tends to produce.

5. Start with busy work

*Tiny rant alert!* Professors wouldn’t like me inferring that some of the work they assign isn’t important. But the truth of the matter is that there is such thing as busy work. We mindlessly finish the busy work in five minutes before moving on to more important assignments that require time and quality work. However, the busy work can be a good starting point. It’s really difficult to jump right into reading 30 pages of history and completing two study guides for upcoming exams. But if you begin with an inconsequential task, it reminds your brain that it’s time to settle down and get to work.

6. Set a goal

When I have something to look forward to, like going out with a friend, riding my horses or doing yoga and drinking tea before I go to bed, I generally work faster. You can set daily goals or time-lapse goals. One goal I set before the start of this school year was to read one book for leisure every month. I’ve started falling behind because I haven’t set aside the time. So reading has become my goal, and before I can do that I have to finish the items with pressing deadlines.

7. Break it up!

Finally, please don’t tell yourself you’re going to sit down and study for seven hours straight. Not only is that miserable and begs for distraction, it’s also a waste of beautiful life. Read for 30 minutes and then check in on the world of horse racing. Or bake some brownies and then get back to work. You’ll be happier, I promise!

¡Buena suerte!

~Annise

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