Studying productively equals better grades. But productivity is not easy. Study-sessions can start with the best intentions, but become high-jacked by distractions. A 30-minute break may turn into a one hour chat on Facebook; before you know it, all your hours are wasted and none of your work is done. Productivity is a skill that can be developed. Here are seven laws of productivity every student needs to know:
1. Engage in “deep work”
Creating a to-do list is helpful, but a couple of the key missing ingredients are: deadlines and timeframes. Don’t just write down what to do, but put a window of time where you will perform “deep work” on each task. Cal Newport, author of Deep Work, defines it as: “the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task.” It is essentially eliminating any degree of possible distraction and committing 110% to the completion of a task.
2. The “retreating deadline” method
Newport also uses a strategy called the “retreating deadline method;” in order to beat procrastination, he adjusts the deadlines of assignments on his calendar to appear to be earlier. With a number of tasks at hand, you will eventually operate according to the new deadlines you’ve given yourself.
3. Know your biological clock
Have a better understanding of yourself is to know the most productive part of a day. Figure out the best hours of the day that makes you productive and use the time efficiently study. According to a normal circadian cycle, from 7 a.m your cortisol levels increase and your melatonin production stops. This means that the body and the brain are fully awake and at their most efficient. Your testosterone levels also rise in the hours following waking up; you want to take advantage of your body’s biological responses and do your most demanding work in these hours.
4. Listen to classical music
According to research, classical music has the ability to put your brain in a heightened emotional state, making you more receptive to receiving and processing information. Other studies, showed that listening to Mozart improved performance on mental tasks, spatial-temporal reasoning, and abstract thinking.
5. Hack into your motivation
Productivity and motivation go hand-in-hand. And you can generate your own motivation through visualizing yourself achieving your goals. Your brain has difficulty telling the difference between what is real and what is imagined and will release positive brain chemicals even while you’re imagining something.
Visualization also gives you a blueprint to follow as you strive to reach your goals. The clearer the vision you have for yourself, the clearer the path toward your goals. Here’s a great list of eight successful people who use visualization techniques.
6. “Zen” your workspace
Your environment affects your productivity. Even adding a plant or two has been shown to improve your mental health and productivity. Mess creates stress. Adopt that as your mantra and keep your workspace tidy. Mess may not seem like a big deal, but you will immediately notice a difference if you have a well-organized workspace.
7. Habitualize yourself
Engage yourself in a routine; set specific times for specific activities and keep repeating your routine. If your brain is used to studying at a particular time, you will find it easier to get into the mood at that particular time each day. Spend time with people who challenge and motivate you to do more and to become better.