It’s no secret that when the work piles on, it’s best to push through instead of complaining about what a burden it is. Whether it’s studying or cleaning or designing a PowerPoint presentation, getting through the grind requires motivation, organization, and commitment.
At this point, we’ll stop sounding like a tired teacher or preachy parent and just tell you the ways in which we work and learn best:
For me, to-do lists are what get me through a particularly busy day. I’ve always appreciated organization in times of stress, and one of the easiest and most calming methods of organization is writing a list. A to-do list doesn’t necessarily need to be too extensive, it’s just meant to keep track of everything so that you don’t forget anything. As such, my to-do lists are generally a mix of work and personal tasks and appointments that I need to remember to accomplish during the day.
Anyone struggling to keep everything prioritized or remember each thing that must be done, I’d definitely recommend writing a to-do list. Plus, checking things off is so satisfying; you may include “Make a To-Do List” just so that you can mark it as completed.
Once when I was couch surfing in Germany, a few fellow travelers and I sat down with our host to learn German. He had a new method for teaching a language that he guaranteed would work better for retention than anything we’d come across before. Using the method, he’d learned several languages in just a few months, including Russian, Japanese, and Spanish.
We sat in a circle. When I asked if I should get a paper and pencil, he responded, “No, you write to forget, you speak to remember.” We then played a game of “call and answer” entirely in German. He would ask a question, and we would all respond. He would ask it again, we would respond again. He would slightly change the question, so we would slightly change the answer. Repeat.
All of it was in German; no English was spoken at all. To help explain what new words meant, he used universal sign language. As we repeated everything back to him, we signed the appropriate symbol for the word we were saying.
For example, I pointed to myself when I said the word “meinem.” I gestured a long pointy object when I said the word “stock.” Though that was four years ago, to this day, I can still remember every single word and phrase I learned–though admittedly if I want to speak them I have to stop myself from signing simultaneously.
My strategy for dealing with endless hours of work is of a musical nature. It’s also of a robotic one–so much so that the respective band members have astutely proclaimed themselves as robots; it’s Kraftwerk.
You probably know Kraftwerk, the German electronic band that started in the ‘70s, but what you may not know is the effectiveness its sound has on encouraging efficiency upon listening. There’s something so systematic about their boring, repetitive, symmetrical sounds that makes me get into an industrial mindset. Back in college, when finals season would roll around, “The Man-Machine” and “The Model” would help me pull through writing 15 double-spaced pages of analytical text on ethnographies for anthropology papers or reading 100 pages of Ottoman history for exams.
Best of all, when I’d get to that point of delusional daze amidst my many hours of cramming facts and figures, I could always stare off at blank walls and visualize vortexes of spiraling shapes off surfaces, and let the songs’ sampled boings, honks, and rings tinge these visuals into different forms. Switching gears out of the hallucinatory “Autobahn” and back into uber-productive academic mode was never a problem.
Feature photo courtesy of European Library Institute.