US Colleges

Students Guide To Productivity


Students Guide To Productivity

Everyone tells you things like “watching TV isn’t productive” or “you could be so much more productive if you just…”, but what does being productive actually mean?

If you are very productive then you can do more things, better, in less time. That’s the really short definition, but how does this explain things? Let’s take writing a paper as an example.

If you have to write a paper you have certain steps you have to do:

  • Choose/Create a title
  • Do the research
  • Write the paper
  • Proof the paper
  • Hand it in

If you’re an average student you could spend anywhere between 4 and 10 (or even more) hours working on a paper, and you’ll probably get a good grade. Being productive means both improving your grade, and spending less time working on your paper. What if you knew you could get an A on a paper with 3 hours work? You would be all over that method wouldn’t you? The thing is, you already know what you have to do to write the paper, and in fact you’re probably wasting a lot of the time you spend “working” on it procrastinating. Being productive involves looking at your workflow and deciding which stages you can do better, or faster, or even what you can skip, and then doing the work better.

That’s productivity in a nutshell for you: Less Time Spent + Better Output = Productive.

Why Being Productive Matters?

You’ve probably heard something about making yourself productive, it’s all over the internet now and has been for a while. But why is it important? Can’t you just do things the way you’ve been doing them?

Let’s take an example of writing a paper. You have various steps when writing a paper, doing some research, doing the outline, drafting, etc. What if instead of it taking you a week to write a paper you could do it properly in one day? It seems a no brainer really.

Being productive is just wasting less time while doing tasks, so you get everything done quicker. You will probably have to spend some time learning to be more productive, but in the long run it’s worth it. I manage to do everything assigned to me pretty quickly and well, by using various productivity hacks and knowing how I work to not waste time.

The thing that you can do most to improve your productivity? Find out how you work best. For me, I work best with some snacks and a drink near by, plenty of (natural) light, and my noise cancelling headphones playing classical music quietly. Some people work best sat in their underwear on their bed, and others by going to the library and sitting in a quiet corner. Once you know this you can much more easily do the work – and you’ll be more productive.

Time Management is the Key

Managing your time might not sound like the most fun thing to do, and it may even sound like a waste of time. However with a few quick tricks you will find that you spend less time on the things that you don’t enjoy and have more things for what you do.

1. Get a calendar and put everything in it.
Display your calendar in a week view and make sure it has everything in it. Put in your travel times, whether it be on the bus, train, bike, car, or by foot. Include regular meetings with friends, such as evenings out – and be realistic. If you start getting ready at 8 then block out from 8pm onwards.

2. Create another calendar.
This works best on the computer, but if you can duplicate all your lectures to a “homework” calendar, then you can drag them around and find out where homework fits. If it only ever takes you 20 minutes to do the reading for a lecture then shorten the time of the “class” in the homework calendar. Then copy and paste these events every week you have class. Why copy and paste? If you go home for the weekend you need to be able to re-arrange things without messing up the rest of the term. It also means you can add what work you need to do to the note of an event, and delete it when it’s done/there is nothing. Assign regular times to homework every week, and aim to have it done a day or preferably 2 or more before it’s due in. When you have assignments then create regular times to work on those too.

3. Get up and go to bed at regular times.
You don’t have to get up at 6am every day and go to bed at 10pm. But try to do the same thing on the same night each week – so if you always go to bed really late on Friday then try to stick to the same sort of time every week. Your body likes habits so try and keep things regular.

4. Make sacrifices when you have to.
If you’re overwhelmed with everything then cut back. Go out 2 nights a week instead of 3 with your friends, or even just 1. Don’t cut out on seeing your friends and doing fun things completely, but make sure the important things get done first.