By Claire Hansen
Blog Content Contributor
In honor of finals week rapidly approaching and my busiest semester ever coming to a close, I’d like to share some of my favorite tactics for maximizing productivity that I’ve found to be very helpful over the last four years. This balancing act that we consider college life can be an easy one to slip on, and nobody’s blaming you for not being a superhero everyday. Who doesn’t get caught up here and there, with school, work, a social life and somehow still sleep to achieve? I’m definitely no master of this lifestyle, but this semester has made me feel like Wonder Woman herself and if there’s anything college has taught me, it’s how to save time. So, take a look at what I’ve picked out as the most effective methods of getting the most out of your day!
Prioritization all stems from having an understanding of what needs to be done and when. From there, a personalized plan can be devised to help you accomplish each one of those goals. I like to take things one week at a time, penciling in which of my priorities should be done on which day — and that includes time away from your desk as well. It can be quite easy to forget to give your body and mind a rest, so, make sure to include down time as a priority to avoid losing your marbles. It’s also important to keep in mind that you should never cram so much into a day that you overwhelm yourself. That will only turn out to be counterproductive. Creating a successful plan will take lots of tweaking and altering, so try not to get too frustrated if you can’t find something that works for you right away. Even people who have their routines down to a science can be thrown off balance as soon as one thing enters or exits their life.
Don’t spend too much time on one thing
Slaving away at one assignment or project for too long can turn a brain to mush. Not only does having multiple items on the agenda keep the brain stimulated and entertained, but it will also help maintain a refreshing sense of fertility in the mind when you’re able to jump back and forth between tasks. Studies have shown that more is accomplished when the energy is focused in short bursts. This leads me to reiterate what I just mentioned about break-taking, too: When you do pause to catch your breath for a minute, do so away from your desk or work space. Take a stroll and get some fresh air, do a handstand, whatever you feel like! Allowing your brain a change of pace is necessary for keeping it fresh and ready to attack the rest of the day.
Give your body what it needs
This is by far the most important thing. Without the right amount of nutrients and care for ourselves, all of our internals will be thrown out of whack and it’ll be hard to get anything done in due time. Follow whatever eating or sleeping pattern works best for you, but always make sure you are getting enough of each one — sleep, water, food, “you” time — it’s essential. Start your morning with foods that will give you energy and propel you through the day on a high note, like a fresh smoothie. A day of junk food will produce nothing but uh, junk! It’s all about having the “eat to win” mentality.
Like I said earlier, I have found that planning out your course of action before executing it always helps to keep you on track. Before you go to sleep, take 10 or 15 minutes to make a list, either in your phone or somewhere where you’ll see it, of all the things you plan to do that day. Then, when you wake up, you can simply refer to the agenda and get crackin’! It may also improve sleep quality from worrying less about what your tomorrow will be like.
It’s amazing how much more we can get done when we don’t have a phone to check, a window to gaze out of, or a TV playing in the background to listen to. The more relaxed of an environment you’re in, typically the more relaxed your brain will be feeling about studying or working. Think about it — when you’re taking a test, you’re sitting in a silent room, phone away, in an uncomfortable chair with a tiny desk and only your pencil and brain to keep you occupied. What do you do? You take the test and get out of there. Granted, that is what you came there to do, but the same attitude can be applied to all of your tasks. The more external factors you have in your range of senses, the more likely you are to pause what you’re doing and pay attention to one for a second, especially if what you’re doing isn’t something you necessarily want to be doing in the first place.
This is what it all boils down to. If you get hung up on how unproductive you were yesterday, or how productive someone else is being, you won’t move far in the direction of your own productivity. It’s up to you to decide how you are going to handle things, and once you make that decision clear to yourself, your mind already becomes significantly more goal-oriented. Think of your motivators. Remember what drives you. Practicing this at the beginning of the day always helps set the tone for how you will then treat each thing on you to-do list for that day. Challenge yourself to see how much you can accomplish!
Featured image by Claire Hansen.