My brain is a pasta drainer

Joanne Lee

Creating a reminder system and making schedules are the two hardest yet most important things to do in order to keep oneself on track. 

I have the worst memory of anyone I have ever met. It is true, though, that I have excellent memory when it comes to classwork; I can memorize all my marching band music in a single rehearsal, I had no trouble memorizing the 500 different Johns in AP US History and I can still tell you all the details of Ferdinand Magellan’s life that I learned in 4th grade. But all this, all of these positive aspects, combine to make the effectiveness of my brain at holding information roughly equal to a cheap pasta drainer with holes that are far too large. Although I can remember and manage time for anything with a big, scary, solid deadline, any smaller and less-defined tasks are immediately forgotten, no matter how important. I need to send an email to a teacher?  After two weeks of forgetting and not writing it down, I don’t. I need to plan an event? I live under the impression that I have endless time and forget to push off the event for a month. But through my incredibly inefficient three dollar, secondhand pasta drainer brain, I believe I have identified the most essential tips for productivity.

First, find a way to get any and all tasks you need to complete out of your head and into a tangible form that you can use as a reminder. If you know me, you know that I constantly have alarms going off on my phone. I know, I hate them too. It has gotten to the point where I think I can hear them when they’re not even going off. But alarms are legitimately the only way I will remember anything. You may ask, “why not write it down?” Fair question, and trust me, I tried that. I get a cute little planner every year with a resolve to use it that lasts me a month and a half at most. I forget to read the planner itself, and if I do not read the planner, I miss all my reminders. Eventually, I realized that I needed something to literally scream at me when I forgot to do something, like homework, and thus, my alarm system was born. Yes, it is a hassle, and yes, I still have alarms going off from five months ago that I forget to turn off, but it works. A key part of productivity and staying on track is finding a system of reminders that works consistently.

Second, make a hard deadline for yourself and do not push that deadline. While your system of reminders may prevent things from falling through the cracks of your memory, it can do nothing against the constant feeling that you do not have enough time to do something. Every night, there is another essay to write, another mountain of homework, another practice to go to, until suddenly, that email that you were reminding yourself to send has been going stale in your drafts for a month. Write a schedule for the day, allotting definite amounts of time to each activity. For example, 4-5 p.m. would be for Spanish, math and English homework, while 5-5:30 p.m. would be exclusively for responding to emails. Although some may argue that making such a structured schedule is unnecessarily time consuming, I have found that the time I save through my increased productivity far outstrips the time I spend planning my day. By creating a schedule, I not only have a clear to-do list, but also deadlines for myself about when I need to get tasks done. In case I truly run out of time on any given day, I also give myself a hard deadline at the end of the week, so that if I have a large assignment during the week, I require myself to look through my emails at the end of the week. 

It is so easy to let smaller and less imminent things slide, especially if there is no deadline. No matter how time consuming or unnecessary it may seem, it is important to have enough structure to stay efficient and productive. I may have a pasta drainer for a brain, but you do not have to.