1. Slow and steady wins the race
When setting goals, one would be well-advised to dial back his or her initial schedule/deadlines by 50% or more. It’s much wiser to set humble goals that can be incremented further down the line than to set overly-ambitious goals that you cannot accomplish.
My fatal mistake this year was taking on too much at once. For example, when I tried to learn Japanese, I dedicated an hour of my daily schedule to my lingual studies. However, that time slot was usually muscled out by higher-priority tasks and was rarely spent on what I intended. Looking back, I realize that I would have learned a lot more Japanese if I had allotted 15 minutes per day instead of an hour.
2. Relaxation is complimentary to productivity
When I started taking Saturdays off, I began to accomplish much more than I had when I worked 7 days per week. A certain amount of time off from a large and continuous objective can be beneficial to mental health and productivity, which can lead to greater long-term success. Look at this project by Microsoft that found that a 4-day workweek led to a 40% boost in productivity. “Relaxation” doesn’t have to mean laying around doing nothing, either. I’ve found that spending unscheduled time with friends and family is the best way to distract me from my work and to refresh my motivation.
3. If you have the thought, do it now
Self-explanatory. I’d rather put in a little bit of effort now than have a problem later. This rule applies to writing, too. Don’t sit on your ideas for too long, or they’ll become stale. Don’t write in shorthand, or you’ll develop a bad habit and have to decode your nonsensical ramblings later down the road.
4. Exercise boosts academic performance
When I apportioned a percentage of my studying time to sleeping and exercising, I saw a slight improvement in my grades, even though I was studying less. The value of health – both physical and mental – to scholastic and extracurricular progress shouldn’t be underestimated. The key here is finding the right balance of work and other. You don’t need to workout like a movie star – if you’ve seen me, you know that I’m not exactly a Hulk. Everything in moderation.
5. Get out of your comfort zone
Slight, temporary discomfort often pales under the scope of its payout. The fear and awkwardness you experience when stepping out of your comfort zone are almost always well-worth the self-pride and knowledge you obtain afterward. A personal example is attending Xavier’s formal. I knew I wouldn’t enjoy going: who wants to be packed into a loud, dark room with a bunch of sweaty freshmen? And, for the record, I didn’t enjoy it. However, I’m happier having gone than I would be if I had stayed home. And that’s all everybody wants, to be happier, in our continual struggle towards our shared, often-unspoken objective of contentment.