Through this post, I’ll discuss how I stay productive and on top of everything that I am working to balance in my life. Staying fit, eating healthy, being a good friend, getting enough sleep, getting good grades, making enough money, and having time to yourself; it can be a lot!
Before I jump into this long blogpost, it's important to remember, that to be your best and most productive you can’t ALWAYS be on.
It’s okay to have lazy Saturdays, Sundays…But it’s important to make sure you’re bettering yourself everyday and working to get closer to your goals!
I'm aware this post is a bit long, but these tips are VERY useful and if you even take one tip out of it and it helps you, then I'll be happy!
Something to keep in mind while reading this:
In order to be productive, you NEED to believe in yourself by control your thoughts. Think about things you WANT instead of things you DON'T WANT in your life. Keep your energy focused forward, stop complaining, blaming others, making excuses....
You got this!
1. Leave your phone in the other room
Do you find yourself constantly getting distracted by messages popping up on your phone? a 1 minute text can EASILY turn into half an hour of scrolling, liking AKA wasting precious time!
2. Don’t study in your kitchen if you’re going to think about/eat food the whole time.
Being near the kitchen can be dangerous with all the temptation for mindless snacking. Chances are you won’t be able to work, you’ll eat one too many snacks, and you’ll be going back and forth between the fridge.
3. No lyrics with music.
This can be distracting for you and your brain, tempted to sing along. Here are some of my tunes to study to:
4. Don’t study with people who distract you.
Find a study buddy who can HELP you. For example, if someone in your class, never be shy to ask for help! Surprisingly, people LOVE explaining concepts to others...It's studying for them as well!
5. The cleaner and neater your work environment, the more positive, productive and confident you will be!
Some people can only study at a library, some at their favourite shop, some in their room or living room, some at a tutoring center….figure out what works for you and don't settle for an environment you aren't comfortable in!
TIP: the cleaner and and neater you organize your work area before you begin, the easier it will be for you to get started and keep going. When everything is laid out neatly and in order, you feel much more like getting started.
6. Meditate to eliminate distracting thoughts.
Put your attention on slower, deeper breathing, even for just five minutes early in the day before getting busy with anything.T hose peaceful moments calm you down and you feel relaxed. It gives you a feeling of “yes, i can do this, bring on the tasks” instead of “this is so overwhelming, I'm so stressed, I'm such a failure".
7. Journal your distracting thoughts.
If you can’t focus because of external stress and churning thoughts, journal it so your brain is able to focus on the task rather than the fight you had with your boyfriend.
What is procrastination? Resistance. So it's what's keeping you from doing work. But for some reason you avoid it! Maybe because it leads to stress? How to beet it? TAKE ACTION. Stress negativity affects your overall mood so the trick is to be positive and break things down.
1. Be aware you're procrastinating
Talk about yourself from a third person point of view. Create a distance between yourself and whatever is causing negative emotions. For example:"Amanda is beginning to get distracted and procrastinate. She shouldn't be doing this because it will only lead to more stress later on." This will help put things into perspective and make you aware instead of mindlessly being distracted.
2. Set realistic expectations:
Tell yourself you'll only working on "it" for a certain amount of time.
3. Set deadlines if they don't exist.
Many people say that they work better under pressure of deadlines, and lot's of research says this is true!
4. TAKE ACTION.
Look at what you have to do, start doing a tiny task that you need to do. If you have a project to do a research paper, maybe open up a word document and just set up the assignment. Baby steps...Keep in mind, that there is a due date/time. This will lead to your flow state.
5. REACH YOUR FLOW STATE!
Your flow state is when you are energized, highly focused, productive and sort of "enjoying" IT....It's pretty amazing! And, like I said before, how to get there? a sense of urgency AKA deadlines, weather they exist or not! (It's kind of like you're racing with yourself!)
Once you enter the state, your mood will improve (more confidence in completing tasks) which helps productivity even more.
I write down reminders, sometimes by days; by the hour; to do lists, etc. It’s really about finding what works for you. Buy my planner HERE
As soon as you get a due date/ appointment for something (a test, appointment, meeting) write it down in that date.
Write down a list of what you need to get done during the week (recipes you want to make, friends you need to see, calling grandmother, community service, starting to get organized for finals, anything!)
Divide your time, plan to do part of that list in chunks every day (weatheryou do it by the hour, plan your days well and make sure you are getting a chunk of your main list in that day).
2. Color code with fun pens to keep things interesting.
3. Schedule email time OR answer right away.
The faster you respond, the shorter your response is allowed to be and the less time you have to waste with "Sorry for the delayed response" explanations. So, if you can't respond to an email within 48 hours, at least respond with a quick "I'll get to this soon!”
1. Learn while you drive / walk / wait.
If i’m not in a mood where I can sing/scream to the Beatles, then I am always listening to a pre-downloaded podcast (I used to stream them then my bill came and.. never again) in the car, I love learning and driving...No time wasted! If you have an Iphone, the app is already there! Just download it and search up a topic you’re interested about.
TIP: When I go to appointment and I have to wait, I always bring a book in my bag to kill time and get ahead instead of staring at the wall.
2. Learn to say NO.
If you know your Sundays are meant for studying, learn to say no to going out Saturday... Or, if you know you have class at 1:30pm, don’t make plans for lunch at 12:45pm knowing you’ll be late!
3. Create a light at the end of the tunnel!
Tell yourself that after a certain time you’ll be done working for the night. Give yourself a specific reward: If I finish 3 chapters of stats --> I get to watch 1 tv show before bed
4. Have a “go to breakfast” so you don’t spend time deciding on what you want in the morning.
7. Make overnight oats or chia pudding so you can take it on the go and save time in the morning.
8. PERSONAL GOALS: Do you want to get better at something?
Do you want to to do handstands?
Start drawing in a sketch book?
Learn more about the stock market?
Learn more about what's going on in the world?
Discipline yourself (I can make a post on that) to work on that for 15 minutes a day.
1. Get enough sleep that makes YOU feel best.
You may feel super productive by pulling all nighters, but you're actually less productive when you're running on very little sleep. Insufficient sleep can not only mess up your concentration, but can also cause anxiety, irritability, and affect your ability to retain information, which all results in poorer productivity.
2. Know yourself: are you better in the morning or at night?
Plan accordingly. For example, I would rather go to sleep at 11:30 pm, but wake up at 7:30 to study. Set alarm and respect it!
3. Omega 3's are your best friend.
Your brain is mostly fat, 60% of which is the omega-3 DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). When you eat enough DHA containing foods it can boost our brain’s ability to function at its best! Make sure you are eating foods high in Omega 3 (specifically DHA):
FISH: salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines and albacore tuna
NUTS & SEEDS: chia seeds, flaxseed, flaxseed oil, walnuts
4. Learn over a long period of time
Cramming is a no no! I learned the hard way and I’m sure you have too... Check out this article on "the spacing effect" HERE
5. Get to know your learning style
ex. If you’re an auditory learner:
Talk about the information to someone/teach them the information. Read over the material, read out loud if you need to and explain what you need to know to someone else. Fake it till you make it!
ex. if you're a visual learner: create Mind maps (this is how I learn)
This is something I have been doing recently and it’s helped me so much. I used to write linear notes and just keep reading and writing them and it really didn’t work. Now I use mind maps after taking down linear notes. Then I keep reducing them until I just have the main facts. I always use fun pens and pictures. Below is a picture of what my first mind map would look like after taking notes from a textbook/in class/from power points.
6. Eat well, especially a healthy balanced breakfast
Say good morning to your body by eating a nutritious balanced breakfast. Has your stomach ever growled asking you to eat lunch, even though you just ate breakfast? I hated when my stomach used to grumble during my first class! I wasn't able to think clearly, my focus was on food, and I was distracted. If you’re low on fuel (calories) then you won’t have energy to study, makes sense, right? Help your brain and your body by fuelling it with wholesome food and nutrients.
ASK FOR HELP
1. Get a tutor/form a study group
If you live in Montreal, please don't be shy to reach out to me over email (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you need a tutor. I am in contact with an amazing tutoring center that sets you up with a tutor (any subject/level) that comes to your house, works over the phone, or on a google doc online.