While there is a correlation between how long you work and how much you accomplish during the day, time is not the most important factor here.
The real thing you need to have to accomplish anything is productivity. Like everything else in life, productivity is a matter of quality over quantity.
Mastering how to be productive will allow you to make the most out of your time. In other words, when you use your time more efficiently, you’ll have more time to do what you actually want to do.
Learning to do this isn’t difficult, but these strategies are not always intuitive. Are you ready to learn how to take advantage of these techniques?
1. Take breaks
When you are pushing to finish something – especially when it is attached to a deadline – it can be tempting to try to push through hours and hours of uninterrupted study. The thing is, your brain can really only handle so much at once. Instead of trying to push your mental limits to the point of exhaustion, you may want to consider an alternative. Try to see what your ideal time of production actually is before you need a little break. For most people, this is between a half-hour and forty-five minutes. Use a timer and work until you hear that chime. When it goes off, stop what you’re doing and give yourself a short, scheduled break to give your mind the rest it needs to get your mind back in tip-top shape.
2. Stick to a schedule
In fact, while you are scheduling a break, you should really schedule everything. There are some successful people that even recommend scheduling time for their families into their planners. If you get up and do things in a consistent and systematic manner, you will be able to prepare your mind for the upcoming day and your productivity will sync.
3. Prioritize your to-do-list
This also means that you shouldn’t just sit down with a list in front of you and work carelessly. Carefully itemize the list of things that you have to do and complete them in a purposeful way. In other words, don’t spend hours working on your paper due next month when there is a little thing due sooner you can get out of the way earlier.
4. Baby steps
Bigger projects that seem a little daunting and overwhelming can appear much more manageable when you break them down into tiny components to figure out. It might all be about framing – but there is something nice about being able to “check” something off of your list. You would be surprised to learn what you can do!
5. Don’t multitask
On the topic of what you can do, time to face what you can’t do. Despite what we all want to tell ourselves, we shouldn’t multitask. Sure, there are times when it is unavoidable and many people can manage it – but this isn’t how we put our best feet forward. Things like having the TV on in the background can be a little distracting. It is much better to focus efficiently and get that task out of the way earlier so you can have fun later. Even if you’re multitasking with something productive, it is not like you can put 100% of your cognitive resources into two separate things at the same time.
6. Have a designated work area
A great way to limit distractions and to work in an area created for productivity. Setting up a table or desk in a quiet workspace free of distractions is a great way to get yourself motivated to focus. Although it can be tempting to get all of your work done in the comfort of your bed, remember, you don’t want to associate areas of relaxation with work (and vice versa). For example, if you work in the room you associate with sleeping you may be tempted to fall asleep during work. Likewise, if you try to sleep in the space you associate with needing to work, you might end up with some sleep disturbances.
7. Take care of your health!
That being said, your wellbeing comes first. There may be days where you get a little busy, but you should avoid procrastinating or overworking to the point where you compromise your health. Make sure that you still get exercise, eat a balanced diet, and get enough sleep. Keeping your body in shape will help prepare your mind to work.
How do you guys stay productive? If you have any tips or stories about how you’ve learned to work smarter, please share them below!