5 Productivity Nuggets of Wisdom Every Student Should Know

Can’t seem to stay productive on your work? Here are some must-read productivity nuggets that can help you get back on the productive train.

Published 11 Feb 2021

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Ever wonder why you can’t seem to get anything done despite already having an exhausting to-do list? Caffeine overload, multitasking gone wrong and snoozing during study period are signs that you’re struggling with being productive.

What you need is knowing how to start being productive and making sure everything flows along nicely. Here’s some words of wisdom on productivity that can guarantee to bring your rate of productivity and efficiency back on track.

#1. Your head is for having ideas, not holding them 

One of the reasons why you may not be able to get anything done is because you store too much information in your head. Whether it’s your to-do list, ideas for projects or deadlines you need to meet, you muddle all these information together until you don’t know where to begin.

Instead of storing your ideas all in your mind, externalise your thoughts into a system. Don’t waste your mental bandwidth on unnecessary information and unresolved commitments. No matter how big or small your ideas and tasks, jot them down somewhere so that you can have a clearer picture. Not only will laying them all out help clear your mental space, but you can also create a game plan on how to follow through with all of them.

#2. You’re not turning down people, you’re creating boundaries 

Ever find it hard to say no?

Not wanting to appear selfish, mean or uncooperative are some of the reasons why people find it hard to say no to others. Perhaps you genuinely want to lend a helping hand or feel like you can take on the extra load.

The issue comes much later when you find yourself paralysed and overwhelmed by the workload, all because you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. You may think that you merely want to please or help people when in reality, it’s just another type of procrastination so that you can avoid doing your work and resort to it last minute. Keep in mind that there’s no shame in turning people down. You’re not pushing them away; rather, you’re prioritising your wellbeing so you don’t end up feeling overwhelmed.

#3. Meter your capabilities, your limit is not the sky

It’s no news that college life is brimming with piles of assignments and weekly deadlines. You may think that you’re a master of handling it all after turning them in but think about all the times you’ve had a meltdown over an assignment. There’s a possibility that you may be overestimating your abilities when it comes to handling tasks.

The point here is that everyone has a limit of what they can do. Finding out yours can help you sort your priorities when it comes to assignments and your social life. Otherwise, you’ll be wasting your time figuring out which tasks you can handle and which ones you should delay or get more help. This also helps you strategise so that you can come up with a good game plan to tackle all your tasks.

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#4. Have a mentor or competitor to hold you accountable

While there are a plethora of articles telling you that competing with others is unhealthy, there are also plenty of reasons why it’s not. For one, mentors and competition have one thing in common — accountability.

If you have a lecturer, tutor or a friend to rely on who can push you to strive for the best, consider them as a mentor to whom you report your progress to. They’re the ones who can guide you through your progress and offer you helpful advice. Having mentors will motivate you to work harder and even when you don’t feel like it, you’ll still have someone to go to for a pinch of inspiration.

On the other hand, picking a competitor to hold you accountable can be tricky, especially when the rivalry becomes unhealthy. So, choose a competitor whose lifestyle embodies the goals you want to achieve or simply someone who you look up to. With a positive mindset, you’ll see them as an inspiration rather than a hostile party. You’ll be much more likely to do better when your competition is also aiming for success.

#5. Listen to the “small voice” in your head

Ever ignore the “small voice” in your head that tells you to pause and put your feet up after studying tirelessly for hours? Or start on a project that’s supposedly at the bottom of your to-do list because you have a sudden burst of energy?

Well, you should start listening to it. While this may sound counterintuitive to being productive, it can actually save you a lot of time and energy. This is essentially your intuition telling you to listen to what you really need, despite the circumstances.

However, don’t confuse this with feelings of procrastination. If such feelings arise when you’re doing something, ask yourself “does it have to be done today?” or “does it have to be done when the time is right, in the near future?”. This will allow you to process your thoughts and give you a clearer perspective on what you should do.

If you feel like putting off studying for a couple of hours because you need a break or start on a personal project because you’re inspired, go ahead. But don’t forget to schedule the next hour to do what you’re supposed to do. Otherwise, you’re just shirking away from your responsibilities.

Being productive in itself can be difficult when you don’t know where to start. And you’re more likely to miss a couple of steps along the way. But making an effort to improve it is certainly a step forward. With enough determination and practice, you’ll be on your way to become a mean productivity machine in no time.

Before we get productive, let’s find out why we love to procrastinate all the time.

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    Nina Fazil

    Nina Fazil

    A work in progress — has been for the past 24 years.