Going back to school is always a time of year that is filled with high hopes of staying productive all semester and earning top grades but many students are easily distracted once they’re back on campus. Whether it’s being tempted to attend a tailgating event, late nights out with friends or smaller distractions like texts and social media notifications, staying productive can be hard. These are 7 productive habits you should adapt right now to make sure you’re making the most out of your semester.
Identify and eliminate distractions
The first step to improving productivity is identifying constant distractions that pull divert your attention. Things like cellphones, social media, email, conversations with friends and the internet can be extremely distracting when it comes to getting things done. Once you’ve identified what your biggest distractions are then you can work to eliminate them and adapt productive habits.
For example, I’m easily distracted by social media and text alerts when I’m working on tasks. Two ways I try to eliminate this distraction is my turning my phone upside down on my desk or disabling noise/vibration notifications from my devices. Due to the nature of my work being online, I also disabled iMessaging on my MacBook Pro to eliminate my distractions from distracting me during my work time.
Keep your workspace organized
Working in a cluttered environment means negative energy and more distractions. Organizing your workspace and keeping things tidy is an easy way to fuel productivity by making you feel in control and redirects your focus by eliminating distractions of a messy workspace.
Taking time to organize your workspace is an opportunity to get rid of unnecessary items and add items that’ll motivate you or spark creativity. You can add things like plants, brighter lights, magazines and inspirational posters around your space for a quick pick-me-up.
Make a [realistic] to-do list
Creating a to-do list each day is a great way to put things you need to do into perspective. Start with identifying things you need to get done each day and list them in order of importance. Check off tasks as they are accomplished but remember not to confuse quantity with quality. Many people think that because they accomplished a to-do list of 12 tasks that it means they’ve been productive. However, productivity is not defined by how many things you accomplished, but the quality of the completed task.
Remember to make your to-do lists realistic so that you aren’t discouraged at the end of the day when you’ve only completed 4 out of 10 tasks on your list. Some tasks require more time and effort than others so keep that in mind when creating your to-do list each day.
Use a reward system to stay motivated
Remember being a kid and being bribed with candy or ice cream by your parents to do things like clean your room or behave while out at dinner? The same kind of reward system can work to improve your productivity. Identify small to big rewards you’d enjoy that you can use to motivate yourself to keep focus and hone your productive habits.
For example, as someone who loves to travel, I’ve found that I’m easily motivated by planning a weekend getaway halfway through the fall semester. I typically plan these getaways after midterms for a mid-semester break to get away from the cold weather, mundane routine of school and work. Doing so allows me to get away, explore a different city and come back feeling motivated and inspired to finish off the semester strong.
Sometimes that mid-semester break seems too far to keep me motivated and smaller rewards leading up until that point are necessary. These smaller rewards are usually things like tickets to a concert in my area, a shopping trip, a new pair of shoes or a girls night in with my best friends.
Whether it’s a mid-semester trip or a weekend spent binge watching a new series on Netflix, the reward system works just like it did when we were kids.
Take breaks between tasks
After setting out to accomplish a long list of tasks, you might notice that you start to feel burnt out, lacking motivation and uninspired after a while. This is because your brain becomes immune to the constant stimulation of the task at hand which causes you to lose interest.
Those feelings of unimportance, lacking motivation and inspiration can be resolved by simply taking more breaks between tasks. Researchers have found that people who take a break every hour often return to their work inspired, motivated and with a renewed sense of energy to help you get the job done.
Doctors recommend exercising daily which can result in a number of benefits such as losing weight, maintaining a healthy weight, building muscle and reducing stress. Did you know that exercising regularly is one of many productive habits that can also improve your productivity, spark creativity and reduce feelings of fatigue?
University of Georgia researchers have found that exercise decreases feelings of fatigue and is dependent on the level of intensity of an individual’s exercise. Researchers also found that energy levels improve about the same for low to moderate levels of intensity while exercising, meaning exercising can improve your productivity by making you feel reenergized.
Maintain a consistent sleep schedule
When it comes to getting things done, many of us can attest to the fact that there simply aren’t enough working hours in a single day. Although you can’t add more hours to the day, one of the most important productive habits you can adapt is learning to maintain a consistent sleep schedule.
Though working later sounds like it would directly translate to increased productivity, it doesn’t. Researchers at Harvard estimated that sleep deprivation costs American companies $63.2 billion a year in lost productivity which means maintaining a consistent sleep schedule is crucial for improving productivity and overall performance.
Adapting new habits can be tough, but the more you practice them the easier they become. If you’re looking for more ways beyond productive habits to make your semester a successful one, check out these study habits.