Just as we thought we were finished with lockdown last summer its back and unfortunately hit us harder than it did the first-time round, undoubtedly causing huge impacts on everyone in the UK – especially students.

Days feel repetitive and it’s easy to feel trapped in a cycle of unproductivity, but this is completely justified for the circumstances we’re in so don’t have a go at yourself for feeling this way. I have put together a couple of tips that will hopefully help to start incorporating productivity back into our daily routines.

Make your bed and get changed even if you’re not going anywhere

One of the biggest problems with working from home is mixing leisure time and work time; we can get tempted to just work from bed so if you get into the habit of making your bed as soon as you wake up, you will be less inclined to climb into it during the day.

Create a separate workspace whether it is a study area in your room or if it is a separate room from your bedroom so that every time you go into that area your brain is on work-mode and you have created these mental boundaries so that you don’t always feel like you’re at work; you have a place to relax in and come home to.

Make sure you get changed out of your loungewear and into something comfortable but not your pyjamas; if you get changed as soon as you wake up you feel a sense of purpose to get things done today and you can change back into your loungewear once you have completed the tasks you need to complete.

The one-year rule

In one years’, time, what will I regret not starting today? I think this tip is really useful because when we’re deciding what to do, especially at a time like this when we’re all stuck indoors for a long period of time it can be beneficial to do a service to our future selves.

When I ask myself this question, I can bring a lot of things to mind for example, a year from now I would regret not starting a workout routine, or I would regret that I didn’t start that assignment two weeks earlier so I could have revised a bit more and brought my overall grade up, or I wish I had used the time to improve my piano playing… you get the picture. I think this is a good tip to help us guide the direction we want to be heading in order to better ourselves.

The Daily Highlight

In the book ‘Make Time’ by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky, one of the key insights was that every day we should have one single task that we want to get done in order for today to be successful. This essentially gets us into the habit of completing at least one major task a day; it will eventually integrate itself into our daily routine and our productivity will increase significantly.

To-do list

As well as having a daily highlight, get into the habit of writing a list of tasks you would like to complete before the day ends.  The list will add this slight element of you knowing you have more stuff to get done, which in turn means you’re more likely to complete your daily highlight because you know you need to tackle these other things on your to-do list.

Sometimes to-do lists can seem draining, and sometimes they can be, but you will find that your mind-set greatly affects productivity. There are two ways to look at a to-do list: it can either be a bunch of assignments weighing you down or it can be a few obstacles that you are going to power through and overcome by the end of the day.

Physically writing your to-do list at the start of the day can give you a sense of relief as you are ‘brain-dumping’ everything that is on your mind, including tasks that might be stressing you out, so that you can start your day with a clear mind and focus on one task at a time.

Parkinson’s Law

According to Parkinson’s Law “work expands to fill the time we allocate to it”. Basically, the more time you give yourself to do something, the more time it will take, and the less time you give yourself to do something, the quicker it will get done. You may have experienced this the night before a deadline: you leave an assignment to the last minute and pull an all-nighter completing the entire assignment in 12 hours when it was given 1 month ago.

Whilst this isn’t an independent tip it ties back into the to-do list and how if you have a list of things to do and give yourself the deadline of the end of that day, you are more likely to complete it.

Get out of a slump

The majority of students, and even adults, experience that period of the day where you feel a ‘slump’ where you don’t feel motivated at all and would much rather be in bed for the rest of the day – this is a common occurrence for me!

It is important to know what things can get you out of this for example, you can try having a cup of coffee, having a 20-minute power nap, have some peppermint tea (which studies have shown may enhance memory and increase alertness), do a workout, light a candle etc.

Remove distractions

For students one of the biggest problems is our addiction to our phones and social media. It is therefore vital that we put our phone, or any other source of distraction, far away from the area in which we are working. If we do this, we will be less inclined to get up whilst working to check our phones and it forces us to discipline ourselves.

Whilst all these tips will hopefully help you integrate productivity into your daily lockdown lives it is also important to note that this should not be at the cost of your mental health or physical health: if there is ever a day where you are feeling under the weather either physically or mentally it is important to have a rest day, so you don’t overwork yourself and feel worse.

It is completely okay to not have a productive day every single day because being productive every day in the circumstances we are in is extremely unlikely, but it is entirely justified, but hopefully on the days that you feel motivated and are well these tips will push you to be as productive as you can.

 

Thank you for reading today’s blog! Be sure to let us know what you think down below!

Susanna Chandra

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