How to work more productively
Full of enthusiasm, bright ideas, and good intentions, but somehow never seem to get sh*t done? This guide will change your life (or your uni work, at least).
Even if you go to every class and spend hours at the library each day, low productivity levels could render all that meaningless. Just being present doesn’t qualify as getting work done.
Nailing productivity is probably the most vital skill you’ll develop as a student. We’re confident that if you manage to take some of these tips on board, you’ll see a massive improvement in how you perform – both at uni and beyond.
6 ways to become more productive
These are the best productivity tips to help you manage your workload:
1. Create a work routine
One of the most significant ways to work more productively is to get into a routine of waking up, working, and taking breaks at around the same time each day.
The student lifestyle of deadlines, nights out, and streaming marathons can mean it’s tricky to get to sleep at a decent hour. But, it’s always important to wake up at the same time each morning if you can, as this helps you start your day on the right foot.
Getting up early might leave you feeling a bit groggy at first. But once your body clock has had time to adjust, you should find that it gets easier to fall asleep at night. And if you’re struggling, try Sleep Cycle, one of our essential apps for students. This features a smart alarm, which should wake you up when you’re in a lighter sleep.
2. Set achievable work goals
Setting yourself a range of goals is the perfect way to motivate yourself. This works whether you’re aiming for some first-class grades, working within a monthly spending budget, or even just trying to make it to every class that week.
The key is to set realistic and achievable goals. Set too many targets that are overly ambitious, and you’ll get used to the idea that you won’t reach them. Then, gradually, you’ll stop trying to, which is totally unproductive.
Instead, focus on SMART goals. These are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
3. Make detailed plans and stick to them
Planning everything, from your daily tasks to your monthly calendar events, will make your life far less chaotic.
Getting yourself a diary is the first step in the right direction. The second is actually using it.
Breaking down bigger tasks into bite-sized efforts and listing them in your diary each day will help you prioritize and avoid procrastination (e.g. Monday: essay research; Tuesday: essay plan and introduction; Wednesday: first draft completed, etc.).
This is another example of setting yourself achievable goals to get a sense of progress. It’s great for your motivation to know that, as long as you follow your plan, you’ll reach the bigger goal in a certain amount of time.
4. Choose where you work carefully
This might seem like a no-brainer, but where you work can massively affect how productive you are.
Distractions like loud music or overcrowding can really get in the way of your ability to focus.
Likewise, heading to the library floor where you know lots of people is a no-no. If your friends are around, you’ll have to rely on them being just as focused as you’re planning to be. Otherwise, you could have people disturbing your workflow by asking questions, proposing breaks, or just generally pestering you.
5. Read articles related to your studies
Feeling inspired is essential if you’re looking to become more motivated.
We’d recommend bookmarking a few key news sites that are relevant to your studies. Then, spend 15–20 minutes reading before you start writing.
Plus, set up some Google alerts for keywords in your area of interest, e.g. ‘obesity in teenagers’ or ‘social media mental health’. Google will then email you whenever something new is published on this topic, so you can keep tabs on the latest discussions.
The tone and language used on news and academic sites will usually be of a high standard. So, getting into the habit of reading them can improve your grammar and vocabulary too.
6. Work in time blocks
Working in smaller ‘blocks’ can help you become more productive, as you can assign smaller bite-sized tasks to each block.
This links back to the idea of setting yourself attainable goals. Before, you were saying, “I have the whole day to write this essay.” But now you’re saying, “I have until 1 pm to finish my research and write a plan. Then I can start writing when I get back from lunch.”
So, set yourself some time goals. It should give you a healthy dose of pressure to get as much done as you can before you ‘have to stop – kind of like an exam.