You probably know of at least one person who somehow fits into one day what would normally take you about a week to accomplish. They have the ability to go to the gym, class and work; do all of their homework and attend some social function in the evening. All of this while always arriving on time — if not early — to everything.
How do they do it? Are they skipping meals? Not bathing? Life’s a game of give and take; they must be giving up something in order for them to be able to do so much.
These types of people have likely cut almost all procrastination out of their life, and are probably extremely efficient in their actions; they don’t waste much time and/or energy. In other words, these types of people have a high level of productivity. For their input, they have figured out how to maximize their output.
While some of you might be content with the pace of your life and what you can normally accomplish on a day-to-day basis, if becoming more productive isn’t already on your now shrinking list of New Year’s resolutions, you should probably consider adding it. It’s likely far easier to increase your productivity than to quit drinking (heavily), smoking (cigarettes), eating too much and hooking up with your sister’s or brother’s friends — all of which usually seem to happen successively, in that order.
The following are some ideas on increasing your productivity:
Set daily tasks: Hopefully you’re keeping some sort of calendar, schedule or planner — come on, you’re a college student now — in which you set up tasks and establish deadlines. Tracking, grouping and prioritizing tasks can keep you from flailing all over the place, wasting precious time and energy.
What’s this? Your planner says you need to go to the grocery store, get gas and pickup your dry cleaning? Pssh, you can handle that all in one trip!
Tackle your least favorite task(s) during your peak time: Everyone has certain things they hate doing. This can include such tasks as cleaning up the dog dookie, doing laundry and washing dishes. Amazingly, when it comes time to do these tasks, people’s productivity slows down.
While going over the tasks you scheduled that day, plan on tackling the task(s) you dread the most during the time period when you are “peaking” physically and mentally. For some, this may be in the morning, after your third cup of coffee. For others, this might be in the afternoon, after getting home from the gym or a long run.
One task at a time: Squeeze as many tasks into a day as you see fit; however, don’t try to do them all at the same time. While some multitasking in life is OK, such as driving to school while talking on your cell phone and eating a maple-bacon doughnut, doing your statistics and English homework at the same time while watching your favorite television show — Toddlers & Tiaras — is not. A recent study out of Denmark now suggests that multitasking “damages your ability to go deep. And while it lets you do more in the short-term, it makes you less productive in the long-term.”
Be aware of the Pareto Principal: Otherwise known as the “80-20 Rule” and named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto — a name that just rolls off the tongue — the 80-20 Rule can be applied to such issues as public health (80 percent of healthcare resources are consumed by 20 percent of the population), criminology (80 percent of crimes are committed by 20 percent of criminals), business (80 percent of your profits come from 20 percent of your customers), and party planning (80 percent of the birthday cake is usually eaten by 20 percent of party-goers).
The 80-20 Rule can also be applied to tasks or projects in your life, whereas 80 percent of your time will be spent on the most complicated 20 percent of the task or project. Recognizing when you are agonizing over that last 20 percent, and taking into account the value added of that last 20 percent, can help you determine if it’s best just to stop work and accept things as is, allowing you to move on to the next thing on your to do list.
Schedule time to check your e-mail: Though it’s a cliché thing to say, what did people 20 years ago do without e-mail?
It’s gotten to the point where we are now getting our e-mail on our phones, along with our text messages, news and weather, not to mention phone calls. With all of these distractions available to you in the palm of your hand, try setting three distinct times to check your e-mail, such as 8 a.m., noon and 5 p.m., and stick to them. This can help increase your productivity by keeping you focused on the task at hand. While this may make you feel disconnected from the world for a bit, you can do so knowing that if there ever was a real rush or emergency, you would receive a text or phone call.
Eliminate your distractions: Along the same lines as above, getting serious about eliminating distractions can go a long way in increasing your productivity. Eliminating distractions can mean turning off your instant messenger, closing your bedroom door, throwing on headphones or even working in a space away from your computer or television. Many seek refuge in the library to escape distractions, which also provides one of the prime locations on campus to sneak a deuce out in the fourth floor bathroom. Seriously, how many times a day do you need to check your Facebook newsfeed?
So as we begin the new year and you resolve anew to commit yourself to some sort of self-improvement, should attaining a new level of productivity be one of your resolutions, you’ve hopefully find these tips helpful!