Student Advice: Simplifying Tasks

Successful students seem to be wizards, as they can reach unbelievable results in a short period of time. How do they do that? One of the main reasons for this ability is that they simplify many of their tasks.

Simplifying is the first thing to start with when you want to increase your productivity. It helps you to save a huge amount of mental energy and much time which you can use to do something more important.

Simplifying Things

Before moving to simplification itself, let’s find out what “tasks” can be simplified at all:

  • Simplifying Responsibilities: most people are overloaded with their quantity. Home, studying, family, social activities, hobbies: anyone can get mad if there are much of those things. Let some responsibilities go, get rid of unimportant ones or unite them with each other;
  • Simplifying Goals: shorten them to the list of three points. This is how you can focus better, stop being nervous, and direct your energy to something really important for you. Create a list of 2-3 the most critical goals for you at that time, then choose 2-3 actual ones for this very moment and start acting;
  • Simplifying Actions: any task consists of actions. But mostly, people can’t even think about the possibility to shorten their quantity significantly.
  • Simplifying Words: when communicating with other people, make sure they understand you. Don’t make your sentences complicated, avoid using tricky words. Your own mind will be clear because of that approach, too.
  • Simplifying Choices: you meet choices hundreds of times daily. Concentrating on every decision takes much of your mental energy. To avoid that happening, simplify your choice: eat similar breakfasts, choose clothes for each day in advance, create a sleep schedule and keep up with it carefully.

Where to start simplifying your life? Here are some strategies that can help you with it.

  • 1. Create Short Lists

    Whatever the point is (except your shopping list), create lists consisting of several points:

    • Three goals for a week;
    • Three goals for a day;
    • Three values to keep;
    • Three behavioral strategies for conversation.

    This helps you to understand the precise direction of your actions and not to feel stunned with a quantity of the required actions. Stress and depression often appear when a person feels pressure. And that pressure appears because of many huge task-lists. It is enough to take a single look at them to make even the Cheshire Cat sad.

  • 2. Clean Your Browser

    People use browsers, not computers. Browsers are workplaces (and places for procrastination as well) that has to be kept clean.

    Try not to use more than three windows at a time. Place all other ones to bookmarks or use “Save to Google” extension.

    If you know that you’re going to spend much time on one website, switch to a full-screen mode of a browser (F11 key for Chrome). Clean cache, history, and cookies from time to time, so the browser could work faster.

    And keep an eye on new extensions called to simplify your job on the internet.

  • 3. Get Rid of Things, Especially Big Ones

    Each thing does not only occupy a certain space but takes some of your energy as well. It can give you that energy, but this is a rare thing to happen.

    A modern human can have not many things owned: technologies help here much. For instance, a single laptop is enough for you to study, to do your job, to communicate with people, and to develop yourself as a person.

    Pay special attention to big-size things. Don’t store too much junk in your living place. Remember about that feeling of lightness that appeared when you completed that big cleaning last time. That seems to be a paradox, but the less junk is around you, the more organized you are.

  • 4. Use 80/20 Principle

    80/20 Pareto Principle

    There are many books and articles touching upon the Pareto principle, but only some people really use this instrument practically. 80/20 thinking supposes that you always keep an eye on your actions, wishes, goals, finances, things and environment in order to choose 20% of them which are really important and valuable:

    80% of your connections bring you zero use.

    80% of actions don’t lead you to your goals.

    80% of goals are never reached because of mistakes made when setting them, or because of their being not that important.

    80% of your thoughts are not productive.

    Of course, 80% and 20% are average numbers, the correlation may be 65/35 or 99/1, but the point is the same. The dominating quantity of your efforts, thoughts and actions don’t bring any use. And only rare ones lead to excellent results.

    Learn how to think in the 80/20 style. Notice what is hidden. Try seeing what the others fail to see. Analyze your actions and thoughts to find those 20% of productive ones.

  • 5. Think

    Thinking Student

    To learn simplifying things, you need to spend some time alone and go in for thinking. That is a necessary action for those who want to change their lives. When acting automatically and not thinking what, why and how you do, you get trapped by routine.

  • 6. Get Rid of Some Responsibilities

    This was partially discussed already, but this strategy is so important that it is worth to repeat and expand it.

    Think about tasks you continue completing while they do not bring you any value. They take much of your time and energy. Don’t blame yourself if you can’t do something or help someone. Refuse politely, then go in for something important for you.

    You’ll feel much better after that.

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