The Quiet Before the Storm + My Tips for Productivity

Hello, hello! I hope everyone is having a fantastic Saturday.

The quiet before the storm. It’s happening. It’s that time in the semester a little less than a month before finals where suddenly…there is a lull. The dangerous lull that is the make or break time determines if you’re going to end up writing a twelve page research paper over Chaucer the night before it’s due, or be responsible work on little pieces of it at a time.

A painful time. The lull is so real.

The temptation of sleeping my mornings and evenings away, eating handfuls of Raisinette’s at a time is overwhelming. bad. 

Two weekends ago was the Southern Literary Festival at UAFS, and while it was incredibly fun, it was incredibly exhausting. Running social media means you have to be there when breakfast starts, to the last readings of the day. Including getting ready in the mornings to trying to squeeze in seeing ze boyfriend at the end of the day, I was averaging about 5 hours of sleep a night after a day on my tootsies.

Say what you want, but for Miss 9 Hours of Sleep is the Perfect Amount over here (me) this was hell. Fun hell. But hell.

All in all, the festival went smoothly. I got to attend bomb workshops with some crazy amazing writers, and I had a pretty hefty book haul, full of the winning pieces from the festival, as well as some of the featured writers. I plan on doing a post dedicated to that exclusively, because it truly deserves that kind of recognition.

The last two weeks have been rather chill since then. I’ve got to focus on my writing a little more, as well as physical health. All in all, I’ve been feeling pretty good, getting psyched up for summer, telling myself how easy breezy life will be, and how much time I’ll have to stretch my writing muscles, as well as my arm and leg muscles, with extra time for longer yoga sessions and more pole classes.

That being said, I still have a solid month standing between this life and that life. I was brought to this rude awakening when I was casually flipping through my planner when I realized I have three final projects due in the next 3 weeks, the first being a Capstone presentation on the 18th. Three days from today. Gulp.

What I’m getting at, is I don’t have time to not be productive. So, in case any of ya’ll are anticipating a stressful and/or busy upcoming weeks, here are some of my favorite tips for conquering the storm.

  1. Write EVERYTHING down. In a planner, on a sticky note, anywhere. The idea behind this is that once you’re physically writing it down, it actually makes it easier to remember. Ideally you would write it somewhere you check or see often, which is why I prefer to copy my entire life down into my planner. In my experience nothing is too small to write down, because let’s be honest, we usually forget the small stuff first.
  2. Lists are key. If I know I have a busy week, weekend, or even day, ahead of me I like to take a moment to make a list. Depending on what the list is for, I will take my planner out as a guide, and list all the things I need to get done. Usually I put things in order of priority, like assignments that are due soonest, or things to get done while I’m in Fort Smith. If it’s a list of cleaning I need to get done, or errands I need to run, I usually list them in least fun to more fun- because duh that’s the most grown up way to handle it. Lists make it easy for me to condense what I have left to do, without getting distracted or discouraged by upcoming responsibilities that don’t yet need my attention. Nothing is too small to add to the list, especially if it’s as simple as, “Take vitamins” or “Feed kitty.” Any chance you have to mark things off the list, take them. It may seem silly, but checking things off a list is rewarding as heck, and makes you feel hella accomplished. My dear and super organized friend, Tulsa, introduced me to an app called MinimaList, which is simply a digital to-do list app. You add things to your list, reorder them as you need, and cross things off with your finger when you’re done. If you’re techy, or just lose things like lists before you can get the things done, this might be perfect for you.
  3. Get up early. As a non-early bird, this is heck of a lot easier said than done, don’t get me wrong. Even if it’s 15 minutes early, just do it. I don’t really understand it, but it’s invigorating to get up earlier than you need to. For me it feels like I’m that much more ahead of my day. As far as I’m concerned, I stay 15 minutes ahead for the rest of my day.
  4. Take time for yourself. Ya’ll knew this was coming. I had to put a self love plug in this post somehow. I’m not sorry. I’m serious guys, taking time to treat yourself, let yourself relax, encourage yourself- it’s important. Learning to know that you deserve a quick nap after a long day, or to swing through and grab a chai latte while you’re conquering your daily list. A lot of people feel guilty about doing something for themselves in the midst of a busy day, but how can you do your best, and be productive if you’re not mentally working towards being in your best head space? If you feel like you’re getting overwhelmed, or stressed, or can’t focus. Take a break. It’s okay. Fifteen minutes to put your brain back in focus is a lot less time consuming than an afternoon of scrambled, stressed thoughts. Drink some water, do some yoga breaths, stretch, make a quick playlist to help you power through, reevaluate your list, and tell yourself how productive you are. You got this.

I hope everyone is having a sunny weekend. Sending all the love.

xx, Aubrey


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