While our next article very well may be on the importance of not shaming yourself for being unproductive, we’re not there yet.
We’re still talking about productivity -- but not because you need to be more productive. It’s because procrastination exists, and never before have there been so many easy ways to procrastinate.
So in an effort to combat procrastination and decrease distractions, here are your top 10 productivity hacks to help you win at college. Or at least, this semester.
10. Notice when you seek distraction. Easier said than done, right? It’s hard to even identify what distractions exist these days, as they’re so pervasive but subtle. We don’t even notice we’re being distracted. Consider: what’s the first thing you do when you walk into an elevator or find yourself in a long line? Likely, it’s pulling out your phone to occupy yourself. Which, we suppose, is fine if you’re indeed waiting in line for a long time. But that kind of habit can begin to emerge even if you’re not waiting for something, but actually involved in something. Notice when you’re seeking distraction while you’re not actively involved in an activity, so you can minimize it when you are.
9. Block out deep work periods. Plenty of mindfulness and lifehack authors have written about the benefits of deep work. Essentially, deep work is when you spend anywhere from a dedicated 2-4 hours or more on a specific project. Your phone is off or out of reach, you’re in a quiet, undisturbed location, and you have a task at hand that requires critical thinking. Devoting a three-hour chunk of time to that task, and only that task, with no other tabs opened in your browser window or phone breaks, no social medai, means you can produce better work, on time.
8. Keep a timesheet. The easiest way to see where you’re being unproductive is to start understanding how you actually spend your time. Would you believe you spent at least an hour a day scrolling through Instagram, and two hours on Facebook? Probably not. But when you start to checking in on the time you spend scrolling on social media -- and checking out -- you’ll see that those 10 minutes add up -- to hours in a day, dozens of hours in a week, and… you get the point. Track your time so you can optimize it.
7. Eat the frog. Or something. Lifehack authors also expound on the importance of doing the thing you are least looking forward to, first. Dreading a task? Do it first. The theory is that once the hardest challenge is out of the day, it’s easy cruising after that. Because what follows is viewed as easier and less demanding, it gets done quicker with less stress. Just try it.
6. Take a break. Sounds counterintuitive, but the idea that you can work for a dedicated period of time without taking a break is actually counterproductive. By forcing yourself to sit still when you’re body begins to get antsy, you’re less likely to be giving the proper attention to the work at hand. Take five minutes to go for a walk, stretch, or do some deep breathing.
5. Fast. Hear us out. Now that intermittent fasting has become a buzzword, and the idea of fasting has become culturally more accepted, try fasting when you really need to get something done. When your body isn’t sending blood, energy and enzymes to your stomach to aid in digestion, it’s used for more important tasks, like brain function and focus. The alertness, high-energy and lack of fatigue that results from fasting is real -- try it. Be mindful of keeping your own personal health needs in mind, however.
4. Listen to productivity-boosting music. Research argues the best is classical, but if you’re not into it, find what suits you. Smooth jazz, elevator music, hip hop or rock -- there’s probably a genre that helps bring your mind into focus while diminishing surrounding noises -- find what works for you. We say EDM, all the way.
3. “Just start.” Once you start you’re halfway there. Err...or something. The old adage encouraging you to just start is true however. Too often when we think about the things we need to do, we attach how long we expect to spend on them. Just start, whether it means you work for a minute or study for an hour, and see where it takes you. Relax expectations, and let your attention levels dictate length.
2. Become a fan of lists. If you aren’t already, that is. To-do lists are not just for the organized and obsessive-compulsive. Writing things down attaches them more firmly to your memory. By going back and prioritizing, you’re more aware of what’s important, urgent, or not.1. Sleep. You already know how important sleep is. But what you may not realize is the importance it plays allowing one to maintain concentration and focus throughout the day. Get three hours of sleep by trying to cram studying in on one night, and we’ll guarantee things will be a lot blurrier on test day. Get an adequate amount of sleep whether you think you need it or not -- and forget the all-nighters.