As college students, we want to be as efficient as possible: maximizing our study time, social time, workouts and even our eating time. Most students utilize a planner or to-do list system, but there are a few more techniques you can implement daily to increase your productivity.
First and foremost, spend no more than 15 minutes a day organizing your life. Whether that be your agenda or any of the tips below, take 15 minutes to plan your day and go for it! Any more time than that defeats the purpose because you are more likely to waste time changing your schedule or getting distracted with non-priority tasks.
Ivy Lee Method
The Ivy Lee method encourages you to write down the six most important things you need to accomplish for that day. No more or less than six. Prioritize them by their importance, with the most dreaded task first or second, and start with the first task. Do not move on to the next until you are finished with the one you are on. This way you are guaranteed to finish the highest priority tasks for that day. What you don’t finish can be moved to your list of six for the next day. A completed list gives you the satisfaction that you have accomplished multiple things in one day, keeps you on task, even if it is not enjoyable and you know you are making progress!
Time Blocking & Task Batching
Time blocking is a method that divides your day into blocks of time that are dedicated to accomplishing a specific task or groups of tasks, instead of an open-ended list that you think you may be able to finish. Prioritize your blocks and be realistic about how long it takes you to complete your tasks. For example, your time blocked schedule could say 8:00-8:30 wake up and eat breakfast, 8:30-10:00 law class, 10:00-11:30 law homework. Time blocking plans out your day in increments (hour-by-hour, or 30-minutes-by-30-minutes) so that you stay on schedule to accomplish everything without distractions or unproductive time deciding what task to do next.
Task Batching goes hand in hand with time blocking. Group together similar tasks to avoid break time when switching between tasks scattered throughout your day. For example: completing all of your assignments for one class from 10:00-12:00 is a block, versus assignment 1 at 11:00am and then assignment 2 at 3:00.
Both sample schedules represent time blocking, however the schedule on the left represents time batching because you have grouped law class and law homework together, instead of having to come back to law homework at 2:00 as shown in the schedule on the right. The schedule on the left is more productive because you will transition into law homework after law class efficiently since it is on your mind, you have those notes open, and you don’t have to reset your thinking as you would if law homework was later in the day.
If you have ever woken up in the morning with your heart racing and scattered thoughts because you have so much to do, you need a brain dump! A brain dump is when you write down everything you need to do that day to just get it out of your head, including grocery runs, lunch breaks, social media posts, everything! This way when you go to make your time blocked, task batched or Ivy Lee oriented plan for the day, you can see everything you have to do. A brain dump takes away the stress of remembering the little things. To continue productively throughout the day, keep this list beside you for motivation and add to it if you remember a task you need to do later on. You can jot it down on the brain dump list and return to your task versus trying to remember it later or getting distracted.
Breaks are necessary for your mental health and to not get worn out, but smart breaks are a plus! Smart breaks are breaks you schedule throughout the day, but they include a time limit and they avoid adding to your mental exhaustion. Smart breaks include a workout, tidying your room, going on a coffee run, 30-minute nap or even a dance break. These breaks should be something you look forward to, but they should also be something that improves your well-being or helps you complete your daily tasks. For example, watching an episode of a show would not necessarily be a smart break, unless you have incredible self-control, because the chances of you actually getting back to work after that one show are really low. However, going for a 30-minute run/walk is a smart break because it boosts your endorphins, gets your heart pumping and it is limited to only 30 minutes after which you return to your work. Smart breaks are great when you need a pick-me-up to increase your energy and productivity.
No matter what, you should always have an exciting ending to your day! Whether it is washing your hair, watching an episode of your favorite tv show, making cookies, exercising or playing a sport with your friends, you need to have at least one thing in your day that you look forward to. This will incentivize you to work hard to finish your tasks during the specified times so you can participate in your exciting ending. It will increase your productivity because you have something great to look forward to!
Whether you implement all of these productivity methods or just one into your daily routine, you are bound to become more productive and to enjoy what you are doing!
Written by: Ashley Jones