Productivity tips beyond the To-Do list
I have to say, adjusting to online learning and now a second lockdown has been far from easy. Although I typically consider myself to be a very organized, productive person, able to motivate myself, I have been finding it more difficult recently. Last year, I relied on a solid and efficient daily routine. Now, with gyms closed, unscheduled online lectures, and limited social events, I quickly noticed drops in my productivity and I want to do something about it! So, this post is as much to help you if you’re experiencing the same at the moment as it is a gentle reminder to myself. Here are some tools we can all use to try to increase our productivity and stay motivated. It might be a question of trial and error at first, but if like me, you are realizing that your old tools and routines aren’t as helpful at the moment, these might be worth a try.
- Time blocking
This goes beyond the To-Do list in the sense that you actually block out specific times in your day for certain tasks. Besides adding structure to your otherwise open day, it can help with spending too much time on one task. Myself and many of my fellow students have noticed how much longer online lectures seem to take us than the old, in-person classes. So, by blocking out 2 hours and 2 hours only for your lecture, it should help you stick to that.
- Early Bird or Night Owl?
Which one are you? I know for a fact that I am sharper earlier in the day. Add the fact that it’s getting dark earlier and earlier recently and yeah, I feel ready to start winding down by 16:30. That’s exactly why I make sure to wake up early, smash out as much work as I can before then, and end the day with a workout and cooking, which also happen to be two of my favorite hobbies. But, if on the other hand, you know you work better in the evening, that’s totally fine – enjoy the later wake-up! Learn to play to your strengths.
- “Mess Creates Stress”
It sounds incredibly cliché, I know! But seriously, this makes a huge difference for me. If the environment I work in is messy, I feel unorganized and unfocused. I like working with lots of sticky notes, paper, and books so I know a thing or two about my desk (and sometimes the floor) being covered when I’m working but I always make sure to clear and organize everything before I get started. It helps me get in the mood too! Just make sure not to use the cleaning and tyding as an excuse to procrastinate – the same goes for writing overly pretty colour coded notes btw!
I’ve heard a lot about this productivity technique and I’m going to give it a try! The idea is to set a 25-minute timer and dedicate yourself fully, without any distractions to one task. When the timer goes off, take a quick break: get up, make yourself a coffee, etc) before repeating this a few more times. After 3 or 4 Pomodoro’s, you get a longer break. This sounds like a useful tool for me when it comes to writing the various sections of my Dissertation. You can find more about the technique here.
- Accountability group
I have found that studying at the same time as someone else is really helpful and is a good way to hold yourself accountable. And if you can’t safely arrange to meet and study at the same time in person, just set up a call and have your friend stay on the line. Knowing that someone else is also working on something will hopefully help you stay focused. Why not try the Pomodoro technique together?
- Your productivity does not determine your worth
We live in crazy times guys – don’t be too hard on yourself! You will undoubtedly have more and less productive days and that’s ok. Don’t be fooled by appearances and by how well and productively everyone else seems to be working. Instead, be honest with those you trust and talk about how you’re feeling. Chances are, they’ll be struggling too.