Paying Yourself First

Paying yourself first

By Elizabeth Williamson


When coronavirus restrictions meant that I couldn't study at cafes and libraries, my productivity went into lockdown. I didn't have the environment of productivity I was used to anymore. Instead, I had to seek out ways to stay on top of university work without being absolutely miserable.

I hated forcing myself to sit at my desk, when I wasn't motivated to study - I would only waste time. I was getting no closer to finishing that tutorial homework and not doing anything that made me happy! Parkinson’s Law states that work expands to fill the time available for it’s completion. Essentially, if you set out to complete homework due tomorrow - there's a decent chance that it'll turn out to be the only meaningful thing you get done for the day. Instead of fighting this law, try “paying yourself first”.

In the book, 'Rich Dad Poor Dad' Robert Kiyosaki says to “Pay yourself first”. He applies this to his finances where would “pay himself first” and commit his earnings to his savings and personal luxuries BEFORE paying for his living costs. Sometimes this would mean hustling to find extra sources of income to make ends meet. However, in the end, he would always make it to the next month, and he rapidly achieved his saving goals. By “paying himself first” he would be able to achieve his personal goals whilst still paying his bills .

So how can this apply to you?

If your homework only takes a maximum of two hours to complete, and it doesn’t need to be completed early,  try attempting it when you’re naturally motivated to get it done: two hours before the tutorial. Until then, work on other tasks - your extracurriculars, a project you've set your sights on, exercising or start a Netflix Party with friends  - and don't feel guilty about it at all. Know that you've set aside enough time for a task to be done properly and that, for now, you can focus on “paying yourself first”. If you set a goal to perhaps learn a new skill during lockdown but can't find time for it with university tasks, try doing it first!

Now, of course you run the risk of underestimating how long a task may take, but I've found it an interesting way to go about scheduling my day, now that all other forms of a structure are gone.  It’s an interesting mindset to get work done and fit in downtime, guilt-free!

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