How I plan to have a productive year

Three R's revisit, recover, renewHere are my three Rs for 2017: revisit, recover and renew; created so that a systematic approach would help me in meeting my resolutions for 2017.

Another year has passed, and whether 2016 was a productive year or not, (what has passed is the past) I am ready to leave it where it is. However, there is a thin line between forward-looking and denial of past mistakes: the forgiving and understanding self in us could easily be the excessively lenient and doting self, who will readily take a look-over instead of examining the root cause of our unproductivity. The latter continues to encourage us to sit on tasks, therefore hindering us from completing at least one percent more work than the year before. Another year would go by, with nothing done.

I don’t wish to start my year, wasting time whining over what I have failed to achieve last year. Neither would I want to put a gloss over past mistakes, creating a deceptive outer appearance, while what really lies beneath is something like an untreated bug, waiting to surface again.

It is not just about the BA course that I am talking, but about many other aspects of my life. The bad habits need to be sloughed off, for the good of my overall growth and development as a productive person. One who gets things done, achieves goals. To help me to achieve this, I have, hence, designed the three Rs.

Revisit: looking at a mess created by no one else but yourself is a rather discouraging sight. Nobody likes to dwell on past mistakes; it goads on one’s self esteem. However jarring the mess is, I say we should look at it sufficiently long enough to address it, but not long enough to turn it into a guilt trip.

Take for example, my preparation for one of my level 6 modules – Shakespeare. I haven’t really read all the five plays yet. All that I’ve read are the summaries and a couple of important scenes to get an idea of the plot, motifs and themes. This will not allow me to be sufficiently prepared for the exams.

I know that I have approximately three months (January- March) before the month of revision (April) comes. Revisiting gives me a clear idea of how much is needed to be done and how much time I am left with. It allows me to measure and quantify how much I need to push myself in the following months before the exams.

Next, I start planning, and this is where recovery takes place. I need to identify the quickest yet most efficient method of acquiring a good knowledge of the plays. I have set my goal to read at least one play every three days. A rather herculean task it is, but not if I rope in the help of two resources: a good synopsis of all the five acts of each play, and the film adaptations of the plays. Both of these give me a greater familiarity and help me in my reading the actual texts. The visual aid of the film adaptions will help me to cotton on to the language – a prevailing challenge when reading a Shakespearean play. This, I believe, is a good and fast approach in gaining sufficient understanding of the plays, which is the first step to developing my own interpretations and arguments.

Marking a check listThe next thing, the crux of making 2017 a productive year is, plan to plan. Each day, I plan my to-do list for the next day, a process that involves checking off the completed tasks and moving the unfinished ones to the following day or days. This is where renewal takes place: I revise my to-do list consistently so that I could be better prepared for the following day. Analysing the accomplished tasks helps me to have a clearer view of my progress and most importantly, it also boosts my confidence in my competence. And, in the process of analysing my to-do list, I question myself why I could not complete the tasks. Could the task actually require more time than I realised? Could there be some steps that I should be taking prior to it, which means the task needs to be broken down, and a more systematic approach is needed? Or, could I be putting it off because of my personal psychological hindrance, such as procrastination?

Text 'oh so inspired'My concept of these three Rs is to push me forward everyday towards my goal, no matter how small a step it might be. I find this particularly helpful in tuning my mind to adopt a more positive and inspired outlook, while pushing me forward continuously.

Tiffany is studying the BA English by distance learning in Singapore.

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