4 steps that will help you stay productive

Sometimes you have those days, you’re staring into the abyss wondering what you achieved today. It seems like nothing. You’ve had your computer open for 6 hours straight but all you’ve managed to accomplish is the formatting of your title page.

Productivity is a word that’s often used in businesses. A word that’s used for people, processes and production. Often it can be put into complicated graphs with numbers indicating good or bad productivity levels. That’s not what we’re going to be talking about in this post. We’re going to give you 4 easy steps of how to be more productive in your daily life. This advice from the LifeStart community should head you in the right direction and at least make it easier for you to knuckle down and get the work done. 

Find the right environment

Before you even sit down and start studying, you need to make sure that you’re in the right sort of place to be working. Annabel W. from Bangor University recommends that it’s best to find where you work well – library, social learning space, bedroom etc. Learn to be flexible. Just because you studied best in the evenings for one assignment doesn’t mean it’ll be the same for all of them, “it’s different for everyone and for each assignment” Annabel adds.

Prioritise

So, I said at the beginning that we don’t believe in measuring productivity and we still don’t. However, it is good to make sure you know what has been productive for you and what is just procrastination. Making a list or number tasks by priority, this helps to make sure you complete the most important jobs first. Which also means you can set realistic goals (which we’ll come to in 2 steps time). Carina M. from King’s College London said that she tries to make a to-do list everyday of all the things that she wants to get done. No matter how small it is, she says “including subcategories for larger tasks [means] that I can have attainable goals throughout the day and a sense of accomplishment for every ‘tick’!” 

If you’re still finding yourself wandering off maybe have a look at our blog on procrastination for some tips.

Plan for breaks

Planning is very important when you’ve got lot to do and prioritising, as we mentioned above helps with that. One important point about planning is to include breaks. Often, we get so caught up in ‘being productive’ we can forget that it’s normal and healthy to take some time out. Don’t expect to be able to work day and night non-stop. You deserve to have downtime, as it allows you to rest and recharge making sure the quality of your work remains high.

If you’re working on something last minute, breaks still need to be factored in no matter how stressed you are. Another reason that it’s good to plan a short pause is that it allows you to work towards something. Whether that be going home and watching a film, or just going for a short walk. Breaks are almost as important as getting the work done!

Set yourself (measurable) goals or at least a deadline

Not only should you plan in breaks but setting yourself goals helps focus the mind too. Goals can be anything from what you’re going to do in your break/downtime, to setting the date for when you want to finish something. Annabel says that by setting little goals like a certain word count you want to have written for your essay, you “make sure you have time to relax in the evenings after working. We had a group of us watch bake-off every week, so on a Tuesday, I would finish by 6, so I could make and eat tea, then chill in the evenings with mates.” Workout what is your biggest motivator, for some people it’s perhaps the social event that may come at the end of it, for others it’s the pride of producing a finished piece of work. I personally do a little bit of both. Planning my work and personal mini deadlines around the social events I’ve already booked with my friends.

BONUS tip
Ok so those are the four steps, but we had to include this piece of golden advice from Carina too: “I think what’s also important is for us to not be too hard on ourselves when we don’t accomplish everything we wanted or planned to. I often get frustrated when my study and/or work plans do not go accordingly, and find myself giving up on the entire process. Productivity can be very relative and it’s essential for us to listen to ourselves and engage with our own pace instead of focusing on just ‘getting it done’.”

Be kind to yourself and remember that we all have good days and bad days. Let us know if you have any other advice or want to write your own blogpost: info@studentlifestart.com