Tips for a Productive Day at Seminary

Of all the subject areas we address here at SSG, one I’m really passionate about is time management. Here’s a baker’s dozen of my favorite tips for daily productivity.

  1. Get up early. Sleeping in is fun, but should be an occasional treat.  Jesus’ example of early rising is worthy of imitation.  (Trouble getting up early?)
  2. Eat breakfast.  Kick start the metabolism.  Cereal and fruit is easy and nutritious.
  3. Spend time with God first. Have your quiet time first.  Get your spirit in a place of peace and adoration before you tackle the day.
  4. Plan your day. Grab your calendar, and look through what’s on tap for the day: classes, work schedule, appointments, etc.  Don’t forget about long term project that you need to be working on.  Read ahead for classes if you can.
  5. Make a quick to-do list of things you want to get done that day.
  6. Prioritize. Choose two or three items that are the most important for you to get done that day.  No more than three!!
  7. Hit it early. Try to accomplish your most important task by 11:00am.
  8. Utilize down time. If you have a spare ten minutes in your day, go to your list, and find items that will take 2 minutes or less to do, and plow through a few.  (Pay bills online, make a phone call, return an email, etc.)
  9. Make time for relationships. Life is not fundamentally about tasks; it’s about relationships.  One of the reasons we want to organize our days productively is so we can dispatch tasks and have time for relationships.  Whether it’s coffee or phone call with a friend, a walk with your wife, or playing with your kids, a productive day includes relationship time.  Don’t let the urgent crowd out the important!
  10. Beware of time wasters.
  11. Set yourself up for success tomorrow morning. Set up the coffee maker, make your lunch, set out clothes, tidy up a bit… a few minutes of prep tonight can make for a smooth launch in the morning.
  12. Wind down. Leave some time to wind down at the end of the day-with a book, your spouse, or in prayer.
  13. Go to bed. “He gives sleep to those He loves.”  Avoid the lure of screen time (TV or computer), which can keep you up too late and rob you of needed sleep.  Be done with all that early in the evening, and get to bed on time, if not early.

What’s your favorite daily time management hack?

4 Replies to “Tips for a Productive Day at Seminary”

  1. What! No nap time?

    This is a great list but it does require a disciplined approach. I think that is key-develop an approach and stay disciplined in working it.

  2. I have found that one of the most important things is to look at the long-term. I may not have anything due this week, for example, but what about next week? If I have two things due in two weeks then chances are I’m not going to have the time to do them both next week. I need to get some of it done now.

    Breaking big tasks up into small bites is vital. I don’t sit down and read a 500 page textbook in a day. However, it’s not hard for me to make the time to read 50 pages/day for 10 days.

    I also like using my breaks to get reading done. My semester starts next week, but I’m using my lunch hours now to get ahead on my reading. I know that once I get into the grind of the semester I will have problems keeping up, so getting ahead is vital.

    This is also important because some things don’t lend themselves to getting ahead. I don’t think there is much value in getting ahead in Hebrew because I really need the class time to bring it all together. I can look over the future material and work to codify the past material, but I really need just to keep up with that as the semester goes on.

    Yes, all of this does take some discipline. I guess this is one of the reasons why I’m glad to be going to seminary in my 30s. I wasn’t quite this disciplined in my early 20s.

  3. Plan your day, plan your day, and plan your day. As an older student in his final semester at seminary I am amazed at how the younger student puts things off. I tell the other students get one of those laminet 90 day calendars and plan your quarter. Decide right now one research paper a month. That will save you from those late nights in the library at the end of the sesmester.

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