Being able to maximize your time as a professional student is probably one of the best skills you could possibly master. There will always be assignments (group and solo), presentations, projects, exams etc. Outside of all of these things, you still have to make sure you make time for yourself, family and/or friends. This blog post will give you 8 tips that will help to improve your productivity as you embark on a journal as a professional student.
1. Update your calendar at the beginning of each month.
You may think filling out a calendar or planner is outdated--but this is probably one of the main things to do in order to stay organized as well as being productive. Studies have shown that being able to visualize (physically or virtually) tasks or goals, can help boost productivity . Why update your planner at the beginning of each month? So you can plan accordingly. It's not enough to mentally note you have a project due April 16-because you are using so much of your mental capacity and space on everything else-you need to see that reminder. Project due on April 16? If you know on April 1 that you have a little over two weeks to get it done, you can do small tasks each day to assure you are completed well before the 16th.
“My goal is no longer to get more done, but rather to have less to do.”
-Francine Jay, author.
2. Complete tougher tasks first.
Tougher tasks take longer time. Research shows that people who execute their most difficult tasks first are generally more productive and high achieving than those who start easy and work their way up. towards all other tasks performed. The stress of putting off a difficult task negatively affects productivity towards all other tasks performed. So do the tough jobs first!
3. Use a daily to-do list
As mentioned previously, you will have a lot to do. Not just school-related but also things to do in your personal life. If you have a project to do- instead of just writing down "Work on research paper", plan your to-do list for the research paper. You could list things like: brainstorm topics, find references, such PubMed etc. Physical lists work wonders because you can physically cross tasks out as you do them, jot down quick notes etc. You place your to-do list physically on your wall or on your desk so you have to physically see it. Placing your to-do list in your notes app can potentially get lost (out of sight out of mind!).
“Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else.”Peter Drucker, management consultant
Free Downloadable. You can use this to-do list to jump start your productivity.
4. Change up your scenery
Changing your scenery or routine can help boost your feel good hormones. Research showsa change can help break the monotony, improve the brain's capabilities, create new habits, and boost mental health. Coffee shops and dessert bars are good places to study alone. If you always study in the library and like the library setting, maybe change libraries, get a personal room or sit outside. If you enjoy being outdoors, there's nothing wrong with studying at a park (or beach) , maybe on your balcony etc. Just make sure you are safe and not too distracted. Bring along some headphones to help maintain your focus.
Try you local coffee shop for some good espresso + change of scenery.
5. Wake up earlier
Have you ever heard of the early bird gets the worm? If you're a night owl this may not be rule for you, but if you tend to wake up early this one is for you. Instead of laying in bed or pressing snooze, try getting up earlier in increments. First morning, you get up 15 minutes before you normally would, the next day 30 and finally 1 hr. In this extra one hour, the world is at peace, you have time to meditate, maybe make a nice breakfast or jump start one of your task. You will feel more productive by trying this at least once a week that it will set you up for a pretty productive day.
“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”
Stephen King, American author
6. Schedule or automate emails
The good thing about getting tasks or assignments done early is setting up emails to automatically submit them for their due date (if via email) so that way you don't risk the chance of them being submitted late. If you have to submit papers via Gmail, you can easily schedule to send emails with attachments.
7. Utilize Google docs, Google slides, Google sheets
This is one more of an organizational tip but with organization you can increase your productivity. For group projects in particular, utilizing Google Docs, slides and/or sheets is a good way to increase your productivity when it comes to getting group assignments done. You can easily access them from any device as long as you have a Google account. As soon as you get a group assignment, you can create and add editors to the documents so that your assignments can all be in one place. You can add comments, see who has made edits and keep track of whatever you need with this platform.
8. Take breaks
Last and certainly not least- taking a break is essential to staying on track. Some people will do tasks or study every 1-2 hrs and then break for 30 minutes in between. Maybe you study every night for 3 hours and then on Fridays and Saturdays, these are your "break" days. Being successful and not super stressed (because the stress will come) while in school is essential to getting across the finish line with all of your hair and no wrinkle lines. Find what works best for you, even if it's just a walk around the block or making a phone call--you need to be mentally and physically capable of handling the responsibilities that come your way.