We’re always juggling loads of different commitments or tasks, and sometimes completing them all to the best of our ability seems impossible. It can sometimes feel overwhelming, and I don’t think I am alone when I say that feeling overwhelmed can often lead to a decrease in productivity and motivation. It’s often when we have the most to do, we feel like doing the least. It’s hard to stay motivated all the time, especially when the end seems out of sight, but we don’t always have a choice, we can’t always put it off for ‘just one more day’, things need to be done now, whether we feel like it or not! Again, I am sure I’m not alone in saying that I have loads of work to be doing, with it being my final year of university, the assignments are even more important. But whether this particular commitment applies to you or not, I’m sure there will be something that all of us have to get cracking with, whether its finishing off that DIY job you started, or applying to those jobs you said you would.
This blog post will hopefully give you all some tips on how to increase productivity levels, by making small changes, you should see a big difference! If you have any other tips then please let me know, I’m always looking for ways to improve!
1. JUST START – sometimes the hardest part of your task is actually starting. I always find that once I have started and I am in full work-flow, the work becomes enjoyable. If you’re struggling to start, JUST START! Even if your start is thinking how you’re going to complete your task, this will get you into the right mind-set, and start focussing your attention. It’s so easy to put off starting when you see the task as unmanageable, but just remember, if you don’t start now, when will you? You will inevitably have to start eventually, so ask yourself, why not now?
2. START EARLY – I mean this in two ways. The first, start in the morning, studies always show that we are our most productive in the morning. Start getting into a routine where you get up at a good time, you give yourself an hour to have some time to yourself, to relax, to eat and then you won’t feel like you’re missing out on you time. It also gives you time to do the other things you need to do, to reduce the risk of you procrastinating or taking unnecessary breaks to do little things that could have been done before you started! The second, give yourself enough time to complete your task, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your assignment be! Think about whether watching the countless episodes of Friends are worth the potential 10 marks you might lose by submitting a piece of work late. Giving yourself enough time means you won’t have to rush, and it will be a much more enjoyable experience!
3. PLAN – planning is absolutely crucial. If, like me, you’re having to do multiple assignments at the same time, make a plan for what you will focus on each day. Generally I prefer to do one assignment at one time, because I don’t like skipping from topic to topic, I find I work better by starting and finishing one assignment and then starting another. This obviously only works if you give yourself enough time, for me I will generally start something 4/5 weeks before it is due, I like to get things finished ahead of deadlines so that I can spend any spare time perfecting my work! I also find that writing in my diary on my laptop what assignment I will do each day really helps, because then I can see how many days I have allocated for each task, I’ll insert a picture here:
Another way I plan is by breaking down the task I have to complete into really small parts, for example when I do an essay I will make a list such as;
- Read lecture notes
- Make a rough plan
- Decide what books I am going to use
- Read and make notes on x
- Read and make notes on y…etc
- Add notes under relevant plan subtitles.
- Start writing up, intro
- 1st paragraph
That way, instead of putting in your diary, ‘do essay’, you could put ‘read Karl Marx and write introduction’, because generally you will not ‘do your essay’ in one whole day, making you feel like you’re not getting anywhere! By breaking up your essay you can be realistic with what work you will get done each day, and being able to complete tasks as well as staying on track to getting it completed on time!
4. IF IT CAN BE DONE IN 60 SECONDS, DO IT NOW – we can all spare a minute. It’s sometimes really easy to put off the really small jobs, because you think they can be done anytime, but why not now? Ticking off small jobs really helps to give you a sense of satisfaction, which increases motivation levels for other tasks!
5. KEEP MOTIVATED – it’s hard to stay motivated when you finish one task, and then time pressures mean you have to start the next one straight away rather than being able to take a few days rest. I find the best way to stay motivated is to make plans, big or small, they really motivate you to keep going. Whenever I feel low on motivation, I try to think about how great I will feel in summer, doing all the plans I have made, whilst knowing that I did all my assignments to the best of my ability, and that I couldn’t have tried any harder…there’s nothing good about ‘if only I hadn’t…’ or ‘I wish I did…’.
6. TAKE BREAKS – no one is a robot that doesn’t need breaks, and even if you are, your productivity levels will increase and become more efficient after breaks. Make sure you’re getting enough food, drink and sleep! I also have been finding it great to get out for my lunch break and take a walk, because that way you really feel like you have had a break. Walks are also made that much better by a canine friend, of which I have had many recently (*insert cute photo here*),
jealous? But failing that, a human friend would suffice too, I guess. Try and take your break away from your work space, so you can switch off for a little while. This isn’t really related to taking breaks but one smaller point, is to make sure you’re working somewhere good. I really wouldn’t recommend doing your work from your bed, whilst it might feel so right, it is so wrong! Your bed is your place for sleeping, and it should remain this way, working in your bed can really alter your sleep for the worst, so get to the library or the kitchen table!
N.B. obviously this was adapted to fit my university tasks, but these rules can be applied to any task!
Good luck with whatever tasks you are tackling or hoping to tackle, I hope this helped. We all get in productivity slumps, but we just need to do our best to get out of them!
Until next time,