As a graduate advisor, you have certainly warned students on the perils of procrastination and given tips for how to increase productivity. College students have a lot on their plate, what with balancing schoolwork, applying for graduate school, and holding down jobs or internships at the same time. Now more than ever, your students are bombarded with numerous flashy, high-tech distractions that can pull them away from higher priority tasks and derail their good intentions in an instant. Luckily, Forbes magazine has complied a list of tips on how to increase productivity. The six most relevant to college students are listed below and are perfect to pass along to your advisees. Hopefully, with a little persuasion, they will see the benefits of putting down Angry Birds long enough to give them a try.
How to Increase Productivity Today
Write To-Do Lists: To-do lists are highly motivating, organizational tools that help the user see what needs to be done and when it is due. Have your students prioritize term papers and assignments in order of due dates to avoid forgetting about a deadline. It also feels good to cross things off along the way—it can help an insurmountable task list feel more manageable as you see it dwindle down.
Take Breaks: Even the most dedicated student needs to take study breaks to prevent burnout and boredom. Encourage students to take a short 10-minute break every couple of hours to recharge their brains. Using that break to take a quick walk and get the blood flowing can also help increase concentration.
Disconnect: Perhaps the hardest advice for students to follow is the one eliminating the biggest productivity-sapping distractions in their life. To make the most of their studying time, students need to unplug from all manner of social media, electronic devices, Internet, and texting. It is no surprise that some students are spending more time engaging in social media than they are studying—imagine the productivity shift that could come from unplugging!
Turn Off the Tube: Many students are tempted to study while watching TV. This not only decreases their productivity, but also makes TV less enjoyable. Advise students to keep the two separate. Encourage them to study with the TV off—music provides better background noise to study to and can actually increase productivity—and put the books down when tuning in to their favorite shows. TV will feel like more of a study break if they just watch the show, hopefully allowing them to return to homework with a clear mind from the short break.
Set Small Goals: Encourage your students to set realistic, attainable goals. That huge term paper can be daunting when looking at the big picture. However, breaking it down into writing one to two pages per day over several days makes it more manageable.
Reward Hard Work: Students can be pulled in many directions at once, and the stress can lead to burning out, or worse, dropping out. Give students permission to reward themselves for a job well done. It can be as simple as a night off from studying, or buying something nice to culminate a semester of hard work. Having something to look forward to can also make goals more enjoyable to pursue, thus increasing productivity and motivation.
Making these six simple changes to study habits can help your students increase their productivity, so that when they are studying they can study hard. This may actually provide more free time in the long run. After all, college students need to have a little fun along the way too!