Even the most diligent student has a few unproductive days. Sometimes a good round of Fruit Ninja gets in the way of studying, while other days a few more personal emails go out than work-related messages. What’s worse? Many of us are wasting far more time than we realize, even when we think we are working hard. College students, professors—and yes, advisors too—can all benefit from this list of 12 tips for increasing productivity put out by Forbes Magazine.
1) Delegate. Students and faculty alike struggle with delegating work to others. Sometimes, the problem lies in one’s difficulty trusting in others to do quality work or meet deadlines. Other times, shy students may be afraid to ask for help. In both cases, the student should speak up to avoid taking on too much.
2) Avoid unnecessary meetings. Whether it is a committee meeting at work or a student organization meeting, students should avoid attending meetings that are not pertinent to them. They can ask for minutes instead, and gain the information in 10 minutes instead of hours.
3) Make lists. Everyone can benefit from a good old to-do list. It keeps one organized, prevents missed deadlines, and creates a sense of satisfaction when checking items off.
4) Take Breaks. Though it may seem counterintuitive to productivity, the brain can only process so much information before burning out. Encourage students to take study breaks—yes, even during finals—so that when they are hard at work, their brain is actually retaining the information.
5) Eliminate distraction. Yes, that means no Facebook, Pinterest, or any other non-relevant social media or electronic communication. When trying to be productive, one needs to stop any potential interruptions, even if it means returning to the stone ages by literally unplugging anything unneeded.
6) Cut out the TV. Sure, students may love Who Wants to Be a Real Housewife with Dancing Talent: Survivor Edition, or whatever the latest craze is. Bottom line: TV is a major time suck and productivity killer.
7) Set goals. When increasing productivity, one needs to be motivated by attainable goals. Goals allow you to stay on track for deadlines and help you see how far you have come, which is a great motivating tool.
8) Designate email time. If a student responds to every email, tweet or Facebook message in real time, they will be taking a break every 2 minutes. Instead, respond to several emails at once, at predetermined hours, so it is not interrupting the flow of work.
9) Reward a job well done. This may be the best tip of all: When you do good job, treat yourself. It is as simple as that.
10) Self-monitor. Students should regularly ask themselves if what they are doing at the moment is productive. If they find themselves getting off-track, they simply need to return to the task at hand, at least until break time.
11) Prepare ahead of time. We often take the long way of doing things simply because it is the way we have always done it. However, there are several shortcuts that can help make a day more productive. For example, packing a lunch for the next day while waiting for dinner to cook is a better use of time than standing around waiting for the kettle to boil.
12) Get sleep. Most people—especially college students—do not get enough sleep. This leads the brain to be sluggish and decreases productivity. Students should turn in early at least once in a while so they wake up ready to tackle the day.