But what does productivity actually mean? And how does one become productive in his or her daily habits? If you have heard it once, you have likely heard it a hundred times: be productive, or productivity is essential to success! Here are six strategies to improve your productivity.
1. List your goals
Productivity is essentially the act of getting things done, in a specific time frame, in a way that helps you meet your goals. So, the first thing you might want to do to improve your productivity is make a list of these goals, descending in order of the priority they take (from highest to lowest). Check things off as you go along, noting any accomplishments—and celebrating accordingly! If you end up backlogged or overwhelmed, you may need to reassess which priorities are absolutely essential and which ones can be bumped down to secondary urgency.
2. Put those goals in a timeline
Once you know your goals, make a timeline. Note deadlines and plan ahead for them. You may also wish to make qualitative notes, paying attention to not only which projects are time sensitive, but also to which ones are more time-consuming, involve more effort, or simply require more on your part. For instance, you may have two papers due in one week—one being a one-page report and the other being a five-page research assignment. In this case, you should prioritize the latter. Organizing your goals can be quite simple as long as you take the time to do it.
3. Eliminate distractions
When it comes time to start working toward your goals, you need to remove all obstructions. So, minimize the distractions that steal your time. Try turning off your Wi-Fi to avoid being tempted by the Internet. If your favorite television show is calling, you do not have to go cold turkey completely – instead, set aside an appropriate time to enjoy it later. The key to overcoming distractions is setting limits. Here are some great tips on how to avoid study distractions. Instead of committing to avoiding all TV shows, schedule an hour a night, or every other night, to your favorite program. Here are a number of suggestions for minimizing distractions to increase your productivity:
- Block off a certain time of the day to check e-mail, rather than obsessively checking your inbox every minute
- Avoid having the TV on "in the background"
- Set your smartphone to 'priority only' notifications or 'do not disturb' mode so your phone doesn't alert you to every text, e-mail, or social media message
4. Do not procrastinate
Students are notorious for their remarkable ability to put anything off until later. However, as soon as you receive an assignment, you should start strategizing ways to approach it and complete it. Even if other projects are keeping you from working on it immediately, it is important to at least know how you will start a new project when you have time to do so. You will be glad you thought ahead. Here are some of the best study habits you can use.
5. Avoid trying to multi-task
Often, we think that if we can do two things at once, we will be more efficient. However, more often than not when we are multi-tasking, we are really just switching back and forth between two tasks. This activity, often called serial tasking, slows down efficiency and confuses our brains. Rather, a better strategy is to divide and conquer. Split up your tasks and complete them one at a time so that each one has your full attention.
6. Establish a productive work environment
When it comes to improving your productivity, a quality work environment is vital. If you need absolute quiet, do not study for your final exams in a busy coffee shop. On the other hand, if too much silence makes you feel restless, then a little background noise may be good for you. Check to see if your school has a student lounge; you may even find a helpful study partner there (or it could be an ideal spot to work with a tutor). These are some great tips to create a good study environment. If the weather is nice, you may even hit the books in a sunny spot at your local park. Combining fresh air and academics never hurt anyone.
Here is a quick chart to help you track your productivity actions
|Goal Setting||Set specific and measureable goals, so you can assess progress|
|Align your goals to timeframes, so you can track progress over time|
|Do you have loud music playing in the background? Is your smartphone set to alert you of every single message?|
|Humans vastly overestimate their ability to multi-task|
Create A Productive Work Environment
Pay attention to lighting, posture, room temperature
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