There’s no such thing as a superhuman student, no matter how productive they might seem. Sure, they might finish two assignments, cram for a test, start their next project, go to their part-time job, and read a book for the ‘fun of it’ (in the same time as it takes you to complete just one of these tasks), but it’s just because they’ve mastered a few simple habits. If you master them too, you could be just as productive.
A productive student is one that’s prepared, observant, involved, committed, punctual and possesses a good attitude when it comes to study. Productivity comes from staying organised, thinking strategically, conveying optimism, and being responsible. Make these characteristics part of you, and you’ll be amazed by what you can achieve.
Other things you can do to be productive include…
1. Declutter your study area
There’s an old adage that says, “A cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind”. Take heed of this and keep your desk as clear and as organised as possible.
Start by clearing everything from your desk and placing it in a box. This will help you assess what actually needs to be on there. Clean your desk too, as removing stains and refreshing its overall look will give you a boost of confidence. Add a few decorative touches to give your desk personality, or hang a quote or two that will motivate you to work hard.
2. Cut up your to-do list
The less is more approach is a good one to take when it comes to your to-do list. A list that’s too long becomes overwhelming and unfocused. Your best bet is to take just the top two most important things from your list and put them on a separate daily to-do list. Focus solely on these two tasks until they are done and then take the next top two from your list. Multi-tasking won’t get you to your end goal any faster and it definitely won’t produce better work.
3. Give yourself the necessary fuel
Use your mornings to fuel your energy and improve focus for the day ahead. Get up early and go for a run or have a quick workout. Enjoy a good breakfast. Meditate. Starting your day right and how you want to puts you in charge of your productivity. If you simply get up and check your to-do list straight away, you don’t have time to clear your mind and prepare for the day ahead.
4. Knock out your biggest task
It can be tempting to complete a bunch of smaller tasks in an attempt to ‘get more done’, but the reality is that the big task you put off is still going to be there. Your brain is freshest when you first sit down to work, so get your big tasks out the way while you’re at your most productive. In other words, do what you need to do before your mind starts to wander.
5. Keep your resources handy
There are a ton of helpful apps for students out there, assisting with everything from list-making and note-taking to budgeting and language practise. One of our favourites is Evernote, which helps to keep your resources handy to you at all times. Store and create notes from classes, meetings, study group and teachers and draw on this information from your smartphone, tablet, laptop or the library computer. To use it optimally, be sure to watch an Evernote YouTube tutorial, which will save you hours of playing around later on.
6. Keep a calendar
Import your class schedule into a Google Calendar and add anything else you need to do to it too. Keep track of classes, events, scheduled activities, study groups, parties, birthdays, public holidays and more. A calendar will serve as a visual tool to help you organise your time effectively.
7. Surround yourself with the right people
Remember that super-productive student – the one with the superhuman ability to get things done? Ask them to mentor you. Seek their coaching. Look for other students too who are committed to learning and make friends with them. If you hang with the party animals that don’t take student life too seriously, you’ll forever have distractions.
8. Kill Facebook
If you constantly find yourself distracted by Facebook, download Kill News Feed and replace your Facebook feed with a message reminding you not to get distracted. You can still check your messages and notifications and post status updates, but you won’t be able to waste time mindlessly scrolling other people’s posts.
9. Practice mindfulness
A few minutes of ‘time out’ can do wonders for your focus and productivity, and mindfulness is well-loved practice of some of the world’s busiest CEOs. Mindfulness trains the body and mind to focus thoughts and feelings as they occur. This can help you manage negative thoughts and experiences in more constructive ways, instead of being crippled or burdened by them. When practiced regularly it can greatly improve concentration, memory, creativity and decision-making ability.
10. Get a good night’s sleep
Getting to bed at a reasonable hour and sleeping well will have a huge effect on your productivity the following day. Sleeping helps you stay focused, alert and open to new knowledge. Good sleep helps you think clearly, remember information, and make decisions.
Sleeping also helps to consolidate your memories, and sleep after studying also leads to better recall. Spread out your study time and catch some zzz’s before moving on to the next topic.
It’s never too late to change your habits and become more productive, so start managing your time with these tips today.