Work-Life Balance – The Secret To Success

I’ve spent the past 7.5 weeks talking about the benefits of having a balanced lifestyle and how to make balance a reality in your life. In that time, I’ve changed my own work and study habits by following the Rule of 8, and could not feel better!
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But I can’t take all the credit. In fact, people recognised the value of the Rule of 8 over 150 years ago when stonemasons marched through the streets of Sydney and Melbourne, demanding their right to work 8 hour days, and get the rest and sleep they needed.

Today, a number of successful individuals in society continue to follow this mantra and stress the importance of a balanced lifestyle.

In her recent essay on how to be a boss, music superstar Grimes (aka. Claire Boucher) attributed her success, at least in part, to the Rule of 8:

“Schedules are amazing: eight hours of work, eight hours of sleep. The other eight hours are fair game. (I have not mastered this one, but when I can get it going I’m a lot more productive.)”

Further, Mohamed El-Erian, former CEO of Pimco (and on a salary of $100 million per year!) quit his job in 2013 because of the toll it was taking on his work-life balance.

Just goes to show that no monetary value can be placed on the importance of having balance in one’s life.

But you don’t need to be a business executive or high-ranking entrepreneur to reap the benefits of a balanced lifestyle. In fact, the value for students can be just as profound, allowing you to develop good habits for life and work to the best of your ability, ultimately improving your study success:

Matt

“As a HSC student, this is a perfect solution to maintaining a healthy balance of social and working lifestyle. Playing state level rugby made it very difficult to stay on top of tasks or having a social life throughout the year but this all changed when I started doing the Rule of 8. It has made a big difference to my life. Thank you Paris!”

Sophia

“Being honest, I was pretty sceptical the first time I came across the Rule of 8 blog, but now I can’t live without it! Both my sister (in year 11) and myself (in year 12) live by it. We keep each other working during our 8 hours work time and remind each other to take a break when we need it. I feel so much more organised and a lot more relaxed than I would have ever thought possible right before the HSC.”

Rhayna

“I’m a second year University student who also works full time to pay the bills. The Rule of 8 has made a huge difference to my life over the past month or so – I feel like I’m more on top of my work schedule and have gotten a head start on my major assignments which I’d usually be cramming in last minute. So grateful to the Rule of 8 and the speedy replies to all my questions!”

So if you’re struggling to manage your workloads, if you have no time for sleep or no time to generally enjoy life, the give the Rule of 8 a go!

After all, you’ve got nothing to lose, and everything to gain…

Have you tried the Rule of 8 yet? If so, share your experiences in the comments below!

– Paris

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Multitasking Part 2: How To Make The Most Out Of Your Work Time

As outlined in Part 1 of my multitasking posts, trying to tackle multiple projects at once is largely ineffective and counter-productive!

So instead of draining your brainpower, here are some simple tips for how to manage large workloads, effectively juggle tasks and increase productivity in the face of the seemingly impossible.

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Plan Ahead:

One of the key factors to effectively managing large workloads is to plan ahead. Often, feeling the need to multitask occurs around crunch time, when you have huge amounts of work to do, but not enough time to fit it all in, so it’s essential that you make yourself aware of when assignments are due, and set aside clear times to work on them. For more specific tips on how to do this effectively, see my Tips and Tricks for Productive Planning.

Segment your work:

A trick that I use to manage multiple tasks is to break each assignment up into smaller chunks, therefore making large workloads seem more achievable. When it comes to university work, this involves four key stages: research, planning, writing and editing.

For example, if an assignment is due in a week, then you might choose to set aside 2 days for research, 1 day for planning, 3 days for writing and 1 for editing.

Using the Rule of 8 principle, you could easily complete two assignments in this single week by breaking each day up into 2 lots of 4-hour blocks, therefore allowing your 8 hours of work to be used productively.

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 1.34.29 PMSet time frames and stick to them:

As an extension of segmenting workloads, it’s also important set clear deadlines for completion, as this is often a great way to motivate yourself and stay focussed.

In the above example I used a mix of hourly, daily and weekly deadlines, however this can be organised however you wish. Ideally however, the key to effective deadlines is to work backwards from the due date, and determine how much time must be dedicated to a task to ensure it’s completed on time.

Realise the value of undivided attention:

As outlined in Part 1, switching your focus repeatedly actually reduces productivity, and so it’s important to realise just how valuable undivided attention truly is. Focussing – and I mean truly focussing – on a single task can help you to boost productivity and make the most out of your study time. So turn off your phone, close your emails and Internet browsers and get stuck into the task at hand.

Give your brain a break:

In accordance with the Rule of 8, no day should be solely focussed on work – in fact, science has proven that your brain works more effectively when you give it a break! So between changing tasks or when you’re feeling drained, take a few minutes (or even a couple of hours!) to wind down and recalibrate. You’ll be amazed by how much more productive you’ll be when you come back to work.

Do you have any other tips for how to effectively manage large workloads? Let me know in the comments below!

– Paris

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Multitasking Part 1: Is Multitasking Worse For You Than Marijuana?

I’ve always perceived multitasking to be a lot like a boxing match. You have to punch, duck, weave, dodge and bounce around all at once, and sometimes it’s just so damn exhausting that when you get knocked down, you stay down.

But despite the challenges that come with multitasking, having to deal with multiple things at once is an inevitable part of student life. Whether it be juggling paid work and studies, multiple assignments or life in general, we’ve all had to do it at some point.

However, I’m here to let you in on a little secret… Are you ready?

Multitasking, in its truest sense, does not exist.

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As the image above nicely summarises, multi-tasking is simply a way to not really focus on anything, with Psychology Today estimating that multitasking can actually reduce productivity by up to 40%.

In fact, according to a study conducted by Hewlett-Packard the distractions caused by multitasking can result in a temporary drop in your IQ by up to 10 points, which is more than twice the IQ lost by heavy marijuana smokers!

Essentially, this is against everything the Rule of 8 stands for. More than that, this is against everything that YOU should stand for if you seek balance in your life.

So even though it might seem as though multitasking is necessary and something that is an inevitable part of student life, know that there are better and much more productive ways to organise your time.

Stay tuned tomorrow for Multitasking Part 2, which has tips and tricks on how to effectively juggle large workloads!

As always, if you have any questions, let me know in the comments below.

– Paris

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Master Motivation In 5 Simple Steps

More often than not, the hardest step to working effectively is being able to properly motivate yourself.

We all know those days where we sit staring at a blank computer screen for hours, desperately trying to find the motivation to keep going and produce something of quality. This is especially hard right before end of year exams, which we’re all about to face!

So here are my tried and tested steps to motivating yourself and working effectively, not excessively.

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1. Reward yourself

The Rule of 8 is based on balance, and so a great way to achieve that balance is to reward yourself after completing a task. The prospect of a night out with friends or a trip to your favourite ice-cream bar can be a great end-of-day incentive to help motivate yourself to keep studying.

2. Make every thought count

On average, each of us has between 60,000 to 80,000 conscious thoughts per day. If you just found yourself thinking, ‘what’s a conscious thought?’, well then that’s exactly what a conscious thought is… you just had one.

A key step to motivating yourself is to make these thoughts count – don’t waste time flicking ahead to see how many pages of reading are left, or demotivate yourself with thoughts like ‘I can’t do this’, or ‘this is awful’. Instead, to quote Peter Pan, think happy thoughts! Tell yourself ‘it’s possible’, and that ‘every step is one step closer to where I want to be’.

3. Have Clear Goals

When undertaking any task, make sure you have a clear idea of what it is you want to achieve. Nothing is more demotivating than working away at a task and feeling like you’re going nowhere. Whether these are short-term goals or long-term objectives, keep them firmly in mind and use them to keep you going.

Screen Shot 2014-10-11 at 11.35.05 AM4. Take small steps

When a task seems impossibly huge, motivation tends to disappear. Therefore, a great way to keep yourself motivated in the face of enormous workloads is to break it down into easily manageable chunks, and tackle it one small step at a time. This is also a great way to keep motivation levels high as it helps you to feel as though you’re actually achieving something.

5. Remind yourself that this won’t go on forever!

Often at this time of year, right before final exams, students feel ready to throw in the towel and just give up on study, as it all seems too overwhelming. The most important thing to keep in mind here is that this won’t go on forever! Staying motivated in the short-term can have long-term benefits, so keep focussed on this and know that it will all soon be over!

For more ways to get motivated, check out ScottHYoung’s blog, which is full of great advice.

Alternatively, for more general study advice, check out my posts on procrastination, stress, sleep and planning to keep yourself working at maximum capacity!

What steps do you take to motivate yourself? Let me know in the comments below!

– Paris

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8 Simple Tips To Stop Procrastinating

The secret to study success and working effectively is simple – 3% talent, 7% determination and 90% not being distracted by the Internet.

So, with exams right around the corner, here are my 8 top tips to stop procrastinating.

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1. Just Do it!

To steal Nike’s slogan, one of the best ways to stop procrastinating is the most obvious – just start! This can be as simple as sitting down for 10 minutes and working at a project… often 10 minutes turns into an hour, because once you start it’s easy to get on a roll.

2. Do Nothing

If you don’t want to do work, that’s fine… but don’t let yourself do anything else! That’s right. No food, no Facebook, no vines videos, no naps. After 20 minutes or so of staring at a ceiling, all of a sudden work won’t seem so bad.

3. ‘Pay’ yourself to get it done

Everybody likes being rewarded, so one great way to stop procrastinating is to ‘pay’ yourself. This might involve getting your parents to ban you from going out unless you finish your work, or giving a friend money that they can keep unless you finish your work on time.

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4. Block distractions

If you lack self control (like me) and can’t help but jump online or play on your phone, then there are a bunch of great apps that you can use to block distractions and help you get work done.

5. Worst things first

It’s very often the case that we procrastinate because we really just don’t want to do what we have to do. Therefore, a great way to beat procrastinating is to get the worst things over and done with first, so that studying doesn’t seem like such a chore.

Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 11.17.10 AM6. Set Deadlines

Ever said to someone, ‘Oh, I can’t do an assignment unless it’s the night before… I work better under pressure’. I know I have. But realistically this is just an excuse that we use to make ourselves feel better about procrastinating! If you need the sensation of being under pressure, set yourself clear deadlines for getting things done, so you can get working before the 11th hour.

7. Use to-do lists

Planning and having clear to-do lists can be a great way to stop procrastinating. But don’t be a perfectionist, as often creating the perfect, colour coded study timetable or painfully detailed lists is a way of procrastinating in itself.

For more tips on how to do this, check out this post on productive planning.

8. Work with a study buddy

This can be an invaluable way to stop procrastinating, as often sitting with another person who is tirelessly working can be a great way to motivate yourself. But, BE WARNED. Picking the wrong person as your study buddy (we all have that friend that does nothing) can be the biggest procrastination mistake you ever make, so choose wisely.

What do you find to be the biggest cause of procrastination? Any other tips to help stop procrastination? Let me know in the comments below!

– Paris

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Tips And Tricks For A Good Night’s Sleep

As a follow up to my previous post on sleeping your way to the top, I thought I’d share some tips on how to give your body the rest it needs.

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1. Find your perfect bedtime

While there is no ‘magic number’ for the hours of sleep you need, according to Dr Michael Breus from The Insomnia Blog, 7.5 hours is ideal. Including the half hour or so it takes to actually fall asleep, this equates to the 8 hours that the Rule of 8 Challenge is based on. However this can vary from person to person, so don’t be afraid to experiment. Try going to bed at different times. When you find yourself waking up naturally a couple of minutes before your alarm, you’ll have found your perfect bedtime!

For a bit of help getting started, you can also visit SleepCalculator.com.

2. Regulate light

Regulating the light in your bedroom in the mornings and evenings can be key to sleeping well. In the evenings, keep the lights low, as studies show that people sleep better in dark rooms (duh!). BUT, you should also avoid using electronics such as mobiles and TV within an hour of bed, as the often brightly lit screens can be a source of unwelcome light.

In the mornings on the other hand, try to wake up to bright light, as this signals to your body that its time to get up and start the day.

3. Reserve your bed for sleeping (and only sleeping!)

As a student, I know that my bed also often doubles as a movie theatre, dining table and study space. But studies show that using your bed for anything other than sleep and sex can disrupt your sleeping pattern and make it harder to fall asleep. Instead, remove distractions, so that when you jump into bed, your body automatically readies itself for rest.

Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 12.53.57 PM4. Avoid stimulants

While this might seem relatively obvious, it is a crucial step to resting well. For all you caffeine-addicted students out there, ensure that you stop drinking coffee and other caffeine packed drinks such as coke after 4pm. Nicotine and alcohol can also be substances that cause restlessness, so try to avoid these in the hours before bed as well or you might find yourself tossing and turning all night!

5. Avoid all nighters

This one is specifically for students, as often we’re the biggest culprits of the all-nighters. Indeed, for many of us, staying up all night to try and finish an assignment or study for an exam seems like a rite of passage, an indicator that your officially immersed in student life! However, not only does staying up all night limit our productivity and memory (link to sleep blog), it can also throw off sleeping patterns, which can result in days or even weeks of restlessness before we get our bodies back into check. So next time your thinking of puling an all nighter, think again, and instead give your body the rest it needs.

Do you have any other tips for getting a good night’s sleep? Let me know in the comments below!

– Paris

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Rule of 8 Challenge Vlog – Day 25

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Can You Really Sleep Your Way To The Top?

It’s a question that has been the focus of pop songs and many, many debates. But in today’s day and age, sleeping your way to the top might be easier than you think!

Now, just to clarify here, when I talk about sleeping your way to the top, I’m talking about ACTUAL sleep. More specifically, I’m talking about getting a solid 8 hours of zzz’s every night to keep you fresh and alert for the day ahead.

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I cannot stress enough just how important sleep is to success, especially for students. However, the sad fact of the matter is that many of us fail to get the sleep we need, and just chalk this up to the craziness that comes with student life.

But, I’m here to tell you that not only is getting a good night’s sleep possible, it can actually lessen the amount of time you have to spend on studying and boost your productivity – and here’s how…

Firstly, getting a good night’s sleep improves memory. A study published in the Journal of Learning & Memory proved that getting a good night’s sleep a few hours after learning boosted recall, while sleep deprivation had the opposite effect and actually impaired memory. So next time you’re thinking about pulling an all nighter right before an exam, rethink your approach. Instead, sleep your way to the top and do a few hours of study before bedtime. After a good night’s rest, you’ll remember a lot more of the content than you would have otherwise.

Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 12.39.05 PMSecondly, a good night’s sleep increases your ability to concentrate. In fact, because sleep directly impacts your mental functioning, in this way sleep and productivity are inherently linked. I mean, have you ever tried to write up an assignment and failed dismally because you just can’t focus? Chances are the reason behind that is a lack of sleep. Instead, get the 8 hours of zzz’s you need and make the most of your 8 hours of work time by functioning at your full mental capacity.

Lastly, sleep can increase happiness. According to a 2007 study into sleep and emotions, without sleep our brains drastically overreact to bad experiences. For students, this can lead to us feeling more stressed out about exams or more depressed over not so great marks. On the other hand, a good night’s sleep can leave us feeling refreshed and happier. Since Forbes magazine claims optimism is the key to success, this is yet another way that sleep can help you succeed!

So create balance in your life and boost your productivity by taking on board the Rule of 8 Challenge, and get the sleep your body needs!

Any questions on this topic, or any other student lifestyle topics you’d like me to cover? Let me know in the comments below!

– Paris

 

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Moderation can be fun, too.

Hey all,

I wanted to share this blog with you all, as I thought it was a great example of work-life balance for students.

Proof that it IS possible.

So be brave and take the Rule of 8 Challenge.

Work productively, don’t feel guilty about taking time off to de-stress and most importantly, get a good night’s sleep!

– Paris

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Rule of 8 Challenge Vlog – Day 18

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