The Power of Productivity
So you think you’re not productive as you could be? You’re not alone!
Did you know 75% of university students consider themselves to be chronic procrastinators?
This is how they used their time:
- 39% browse the internet
- 20% use social media
- 16% choose to watch TV
- 5% spent time with friends
Many of us had high hopes at the beginning of quarantine. We saw this as an opportunity to claw back some free time and really do what we love through hobbies or personal interests. Such as read more books, tackle going through your wardrobe to sort out old clothes from new, create your own comfortable workspace and make use of our now-free commuting time to University to take on more tasks than ever.
But for some it hasn’t necessarily worked out that way. Even small tasks, which seemed easy to complete before, are feeling harder and harder to check off. Suddenly, minor tasks can feel like climbing a mountain, which is related to a lack of “intrinsic motivation” around you.
So what hope is there for fighting procrastination as social distancing drags on? It comes down to figuring out why we procrastinate, and how this common behaviour fits into the current crisis environment.
What can lead to you to procrastinate?
Unsurprisingly, with the recent impacts of COVID-19, many of us are experiencing a high degree of stress right now, whether that be due to anxiety about the state of the world, social isolation, fear of unemployment when leaving university or losing your part time job that helped with the bills, and/or dealing with illness and loss with close family and friends.
Absence of Buffer Behaviours
You wake up on a Monday morning from a relatively average weekend, make breakfast, and sit down at your desk to start studying for the week. All things considered, your daily routine becomes very blurred, there’s no real set timeline, apart from set lecture times so the onus is on you to plan your day.
This abrupt shift to remote study made you refocus. Alongside the pandemic, there has been a national reckoning around the world about race, police brutality, politics and financial decisions. This in turn has led to many people recognising what they really care about.
Anxiety is rising, and the demands of degrees simply feel secondary to the issues weighing on people’s minds. You face decreased motivation when considering what you want to prioritise, especially in the absence of a clear path forward.
Fewer Social Interactions
You might not have even moved to Aberystwyth this year, or if you did move across in September, you haven’t had the chance to step into a physical lecture theatre yet; this might have led you to experience diminished social connection.
Social relationships, especially on your course, or physically being in a classroom can be motivating. You can run ideas past each other or work through problems, inspiring you to complete your given assignments. We all know that social relationships impact the feeling of belonging, identification and satisfaction with your day-to-day life.
Check out last week’s blog on burnout. It’s a combination of feelings, including exhaustion, cynicism and detachment that can lead students to switch off, doing the bare minimum instead of doing their very best.
Become a productivity ninja!
You’ve recognised your productivity has dropped over the last year and want to get out of the rut. No problem! We’ve put together some top tips for you to get you started on your path to productivity!
Create the right environment
It’s difficult to be productive when your environment around you is creating distractions. Small distractions like not being able to find things or just being generally physically uncomfortable in your study environment. So here are a few tips to get you off to a great start!
Invest in your furniture/ use your furniture
You might have thought that sitting on the end of your bed, or even sitting in bed, will 'do for now' whilst studying in lockdown, however as lockdown has lasted for longer than any of us thought, it’s time to rethink your studying location. Most student accommodation should come with a desk area with a chair, so start using it if you’re not already! But if you’re living in privately owned accommodation it might be worth investing in some furniture. Although its looking like we’ll be out of lockdown soon, it’s still worth the investment for the rest of your years at University.
An uncomfortable chair not only makes it harder to concentrate on your studies, but can do long-term damage to your body (especially your back). If you can, buy a chair with lumbar support so your posture is kept in check! If you have the space and money, invest in a proper sized desk;, this will allow you to have all the study materials you need to complete your work, minimising procrastination if you have to go looking for it!
One we all know but don’t prioritise! Mess creates stress; and a disorganised study area doesn’t make a productive mind. Take a minute now and have a real good look at your study area, get rid of all unnecessary clutter and tidy up what’s left; do it now!
Invest in nice stationery
It’s like you’re going back to school; there’s nothing better than having a brand-new set of pens. Buy stationery that you enjoy using, whether that be note pads, organisers, calendars, coloured paperclips or post-it notes. You are more likely to sit down and study when you have the tools to study with, making you feel more organised and ready to conquer the day!
Now you’ve sorted out your study space, we need to turn our attention to eliminating distractions.
Find your own type of peace and quiet
Whether you’re sharing a house with other students or staying at home with your family with your parents pestering you to complete your chores, it’s definitely not the right environment to be proactively studying in!
Find a quite space in your home and pick that as your dedicated place of study; this might be your bedroom or a spare room. Try a note on the door politely asking for no distractions; and put a time limit on to make your friends/ flatmates/ family aware you’re actively studying and to try and keep the noise down.
Find your perfect playlist
Not everyone can concentrate with music on in the background, but many people find that listening to their favourite playlist can actually boost their productivity and concentration levels.
Music could also help create the isolation you need to study if you’re living in a busy household. Try to avoid mainstream music as you tend to get distracted by the lyrics that you might know.
(Why not have alisten to our playlist created exclusively to help boost your productivity!)
Put your phone down!
One we all know we should do less of; there’s nothing more distracting than your phone constantly vibrating or lighting up letting you know someone’s messaged.
So, for the set time you are studying, why not turn your phone on silent and put it out of sight so you can’t be distracted. Set up your study time to allow yourself to look at your phone every hour or two hours rather than every 5 minutes. You’ll be surprised how much time you get back and that you won’t lose track of your thoughts!
We’re all guilty of doom scrolling on various social media platforms and wasting an unnecessary amount of time throughout the day doing so. Break up the day of studying by setting out a set time of when you will look at social media and refrain from having open tabs on your laptop, keeping it to your phone so you don’t get notifications on your laptop/computer.
After all, sometimes social media does more harm them good, affecting productivity and generally our mental health.
Other digital distractions
Students make the most of catching up on their favourite show or even binge watch series whilst studying. This will not only lead to poor quality of work, but may prolong how long it takes to complete the task you’ve set yourself.
Instead of having the TV on in the background, why not set your tasks for the day and use television as a reward? Not only will you end up being more productive, it will break up your day and you will enjoy the series even more, having 100% concentration on what drama unfolds.
Plan in regular breaks
Research suggests that breaks every 90 minutes actually boost concentration and productivity!
We’ll be exploring more of this in a few weeks’ time, but exercise is very important to take on board especially for productivity. Studies have shown that even the act of a short walk improved 81% of participants creativity.
So, whether it’s a five minute break away from your desk to do stretches, or get out and walk to your favourite shop for a snack getting some fresh air, be active with it!
Stuck on an assignment? Have a snack!
You read that right! Snacking appropriately throughout the day has been proven to enhance your productivity.
Here is a handful of example foods that you can eat to improve your performance, energize your brain and keep your day on track.
- Avocados. These keep you from bloating up after a big lunch and are tasty either on their own, with sugar or salt on top, or with your salad
- Watermelon. There is nothing like cool, red sweet watermelon that gives you great energy and nutrients without any calories. It’s a great energy booster.
- Dark chocolate. Having one small bar a day will satisfy your cravings for sweets and give you a load of antioxidants.
- Raspberries. Full of antioxidants which are great to neutralize your free radicals affecting your blood cells.
- Almonds. Great for brainpower.
- Raisins. raisins. They are high in energy and antioxidants, and low in fat and calories.