By Amanda Bertsch
This is the second post in the new Study Spot series. Check back on the 1st and 15th of every month for study hacks and college tips.
Who doesn’t want more free time? Procrastination seems inevitable, but a few simple tricks can help prevent time-wasters and reduce stress.
- Set your own deadlines: When you’re assigned a project, write down a due date that’s few days before the actual one. This gives you a little extra time if some unforeseen circumstances come up and you can’t get everything done as you expected.
- Know the plan: At the start of every day, give yourself a list of tasks you want to accomplish during the day. Star the ones you need to accomplish, and cross off one to three of the non-essential tasks. People tend to overestimate the amount of time they have, so this reduces the list to something manageable.
- Do the worst thing first: Studies have shown that people have a limited amount of motivation. The more you push off that hated task, the less likely it is that you’ll actually get it done. The relief from finishing it early will serve as encouragement to cross off the rest of your list, too.
- Make it smaller: Divide that huge project or ten-page essay into smaller components—this way you get to cross items off your list without getting swamped in the size of the task at hand.
- Take frequent, small breaks: Rather than promising yourself the rest of the day after you finish your tasks, take five to ten minute breaks every half hour or hour. Short, timed breaks will give you a chance to blow off steam without letting you lose motivation.
- Get a motivator: Tell a no-nonsense friend or a parent exactly what you’ll have accomplished at a specific time, and ask them to check in with you at that time. With the pressure of a deadline, you’ll work faster.
- Reevaluate at 2: At 2 pm, take another look at your to-do list and plan out the rest of your day. This is right around the time where people often lose focus after a semi-productive morning, so beat that trend by giving yourself a second morning in the middle of the day. This will also allow you to make sure that you can complete all required tasks in time.
- Block distractors: Identify your main distractions and take steps to eliminate them. Whether it’s downloading an app to block certain sites for a period of time or shutting that pet out of your room, clearing away those distractions will guarantee more productivity.
- Keep track of dates: This can be as simple as a planner or an online calendar. Just have one place where you record everything that’s due chronologically. Always try to look at least a full week ahead so you aren’t caught by surprise when a major assignment comes due.
- Sprint to the finish: If you’re struggling to stay focused, set a timer for ten or fifteen minutes and work for that time. The ability to actually see the time ticking away will act as incentive to work faster, and anyone can be productive for fifteen minutes.
Putting these tips into practice every day will help you be more productive and get more work done, which, in the end, means less stress! If you have any productivity tips that have really worked for you, submit them to firstname.lastname@example.org and they may be featured on Denobis!