We all know how tempting it can be to procrastinate, and how difficult it is to concentrate on an assignment when there’s so much happening on social media. And even when you do finally buckle down, sometimes it’s hard to keep your mind on track and stop day-dreaming. Rest assured! We’ve created a list of tips to help you stay productive that is so fool-proof you won’t even be tempted to check your Snapchats.
1. Tune Out Distracting Noises
If you’re studying somewhere public like a library or a cafe, there is bound to be other people there. In order to work most effectively, it’s essential to tune out that background noise. However, rather than turning on your iPod, studies show that listening to white noise or instrumental music are the best for promoting focus as there are no lyrics to distract you. Soundrown is an app that allows you to play ambient sounds such as rain, waves, or birds in order to drown out the noise around you.
2. Eliminate Desktop Distractions
Even if you’ve finally opened Microsoft Word and started working on a project, it can be distracting to see other programs, files, and notifications on your desktop. IA Writer has a solution for that. As soon as you begin typing, the title bar disappears and all that is left on your screen is the document you’re working on.
3. Use A Font That’s Easy To Read
This may seem crazy, but studies have shown that our eyes can read certain fonts faster and easier than others. Don’t waste time reading over an essay in Calibri, when your brain can consume what you’re reading more effectively in Times New Roman. Times New Roman, Baskerville, and Georgia are all proven to be easier on the eyes.
4. Brainstorm First
If you’re having trouble getting started on a project or a paper, brainstorming is a great way to get the creative juices flowing. For example, if you need to write a history paper on World War I, you could start by rapidly writing down all of the people, events, and words that you know are associated with World War I. This might remind you of a topic you found particularly interesting in class, or at least give you some options you can research. Wordle is a fun brainstorming resource you can use. Simply type in the words that come to mind, and Wordle will generate a colourful word cloud for you.
5. Implement The Pomodoro Technique
Anytime you’re studying, it’s essential to take breaks. This is the key to remaining productive over a long period of time. The Pomodoro Technique (pomodoro meaning “tomato” in Italian) is a time management tool that dictates the ratio of work to breaks. The technique suggests that people should work in 25-minute blocks, after which they should take a 3-4 minute break, with every fourth break lasting 15 minutes. This will allow you to re-energize and ensure you’re working to your maximum effectiveness during each 25-minute segment.
6. Turn Off Your WiFi Connection
This may not be possible depending on the type of assignment you’re working on, but if possible I highly suggest you turn off your WiFi connection. This will immediately prevent you from checking your Facebook page every 5 minutes.
7. Block Access To Certain Websites
If you need the internet for research, or you’re working off of Google Drive, you can still find ways to limit procrastination and stay productive. Use a website blocker app such as SelfControl which allows you to block specific websites that you know will be detrimental to your productivity (think Facebook, Buzzfeed, Reddit, etc…). Most apps even allow you to set a timer, so if you know you will be working on an assignment for two hours, you can set the app to only block Facebook for two hours, after which it will automatically un-block it for you.
8. Work Alone
Working by yourself is key to staying productive. It’s so easy to get distracted by friends if you try and study in a group. It’s easier to concentrate on your own and you can decide when is the best time to take breaks and move on to other subjects.
9. Put Your Phone In Your Backpack
So many students study with their phone out on their desk in front of them. This is extremely distracting. Even if you have the self control not to respond to a text or email the minute you see the notification, it’s nearly impossible not to at least glance over when the screen lights up. This simple glance can disrupt a train of thought, instantly lowering your productivity levels. It’s best to leave it in your schoolbag and out of sight.
10. Figure Out Your Optimal Study Time
There is no scientifically proven time of day that is better to be studying than another. Rather, it depends on the type of person you are. So figure out if you’re a morning person or a night person, and change your study routine accordingly. Morning people (those that like to go to bed early and wake up early) are more productive in the mornings, while a night person is the opposite. Remember, sleep is essential to being productive. So if you’re a night person and you like to study before you go to bed, be sure that you don’t have to wake up early as productivity hinges on getting the required amount of sleep (7-9 hours).