The Secret To Actually Getting Sh*t Done

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I’m about two weeks from the end of my semester (pause for tears of stress and joy), and I couldn’t be more grateful, because for the first time, I was genuinely terrified when the semester began in August – in fact, this was probably the most challenging semester of my academic career. I don’t tend to get nervous before school starts; I generally do really well academically, and am able to get really good grades as long as I put in the time and effort necessary (which I almost always do).

But now, with the end of the semester fast-approaching, I’ve realized that not only am I not doing great, but I also don’t really know how I’m going to manage the six-ish huge projects I have to get done within the next two weeks.

I have taken this kind of heavy course load before, and during that time, I discovered one important thing about myself: I have a really hard time convincing myself to do work sometimes. This is especially true when it is almost entirely in my hands to schedule myself, which I talked about early in the summer as I tried to navigate my new schedule as TFD’s media fellow and juggle it with the online classes I was taking from home. Another thing I learned about myself is that it is possible to teach yourself to be really freaking good at convincing yourself to work, if that isn’t an innate quality you possess.

This is something I’m really working hard to convince myself as I approach my final exam week.

Because the truth is, in school, work, and life, I’ve found one thing to be true above all else I’ve learned: the best way to get shit done is to just freaking do it. Half the battle in any task I need to accomplish is convincing myself to actually sit the hell down and do it without breaking my focus at any time for any reason. I can schedule my life aggressively, have a home-office fully stocked with pricey organizational tools and flawlessly arranged, and Google tips on how the World’s Most Successful People get things accomplished all I want. But that 10-page paper isn’t going to get done until I’ve made the decision that it is going to.

There is no “secret” to being a hard-worker. The hardest part of work is doing the work. The hardest part of work is sitting down, and saying “For the next few hours, I will sit here and accomplish these tasks”. Once you’ve made the decision to sit down and just start, the work usually completes itself.

More often than not, we are more than qualified to easily and effectively accomplish the tasks we are given at school are work. None of it is impossible. It just sucks to actually fucking do it. Where most of us fall short, it seems, is allowing ourselves to just live a few hours alone at a desk, not having fun, not distracted by apps or FOMO-inducing texts from friends. I can’t speak for everyone, but that is definitely where I fall short.

It is hard for me to glue my ass to my desk chair and tell myself that I won’t look at my phone or check Twitter until my paper is written or my exam is studied for. It is hard for me to choose staying in and reading a textbook over going out and having fun, when I know I can just confusedly bullshit my way through the class discussion tomorrow.  It is hard for me to write an essay without using the “just looking up a word in the online thesaurus!” excuse to go on the internet, end up letting myself get sucked into the YouTube black hole, and justifying it all by saying I only opened Google Chrome to add more powerful language to my assignment.

The secret to getting shit done isn’t listening to classical music, or waking up at 4 a.m. before the rest of the world has even started stirring; the secret is not letting the outside world distract you, and doing your work during any and all available hours you have during the day. The secret to getting shit done isn’t being smarter, or having more time on your hands; the secret is sitting down, doing the work to the best of your ability, and using the time you have — wisely.

Mary writes every day for TFD, and tweets every day for her own personal fulfillment. Talk to her about money and life at mary@thefinancialdiet.com!

Image via Unsplash

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  • Violaine

    I love this 🙂 Yay – no secret to getting things done, you just have to do it!!!

  • Carley

    You’ve got this!

  • AJMoneyMatters

    Totally agree Mary! I think also your environment plays a massive part in allowing yourself to actually sit down and do it. i used to lock myself away in the silent zone at my uni library, coffee on my desk, phone out of site, and a great playlist. I was then so ready to be productive and get my work done!

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