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11 Quick Steps to be a Super Productive Student

11 Quick Steps to be a Super Productive Student

Now that the first year or second year of university is coming to end, a lot of students are looking at their productivity system and considering reviewing it. Being able to balance your social, academic, professional and personal lives is a task in itself, but if you have the right tools in place this becomes simple. This post focuses on the tips and steps necessary to becoming the student you want to become. Be a more productive student today!

The first three tips: the top tools for your student life

There is a basic, three-part system to keep you organized: actions, information, and visualization.

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  1. TD-mac
      Actions. Keep your actions (or tasks) up to date and assign deadlines to a task. Todoist is an online to-do list program that allows anyone with a mobile device, computer, tablet or email account to start managing their tasks. The benefit for students are that it is very easy to use, it is compatible on many devices (iPhones to Android Tablets) and has a great collaborative tool for when you are working on projects with others in your classes. The system is very easy to start up and everything will be explained about functionality when you download it. Todoist. Free (Premium available)
    • evernote_logo_center_4c-lrg
        Information. Keep your resources nearby all the time. Evernote is a service that allows you to remember everything. It is a great place to store and create information that will be useful for classes, meetings, events and more. Evernote is accessible through smartphones and will allow you to keep organized with all the images, PDFs, documents, details, audio recordings and more that you use throughout your day. This is perfect for students as it meets their needs for taking class notes and sharing notes with others easily, and is available on all devices. Evernote requires a little more attention, but if you check out the Evernote YouTube tutorials, they will be worth your time and save you hours of organization in the future. Evernote. Free (Premium available)
      • Screenshot 2014-05-29 at 07.58.11
          Visualization. A calendar is very important for making sure that you can visualize the events coming up in your life. It’s especially important for the student who wants to keep track of events, classes, birthdays and more. I would recommend using Google Calendar because you can import your classes into this using the school calendar system, and it is easy to use and interact with. Google Calendar. Free (Find iOS Apps through store)

        The top three steps to follow with your tools

        1. Actions. With tasks, make sure that you keep actively focusing on one task at one time (don’t multi-task), and always make your actions achievable. E.g., “Make a cake” is too general, set smaller and more achievable actions like, “Get all ingredients for cake,” then “Prepare oven and equipment.” This will help you get to your goal more effectively.
        2. Information. As I said, I recommend Evernote because it is everywhere. Storing information and creating information becomes a lot easier when you are organized for events and classes, and preparing for something. By making sure all your useful information is coming from one location, it makes the whole process more efficient.
        3. Visualize. Add events to your calendar, try not to input general information like when you are free or busy because the calendar gets overwhelming. Start by adding key events and details etc. Classes can be added by following your college’s or university’s instructions. 
          Screenshot 2014-05-29 at 08.38.02

          Five steps to being a pro-active and productive student

          1. Take a break from academia. I’m not saying don’t focus on studies. However, many students finish university with a simple degree but have no work experience, experience of working with teams and groups, or connections that they can utilize. My big advice is to become a President or VP of a society that you are interested in or passionate about. This will give you some invaluable skills in leadership, teamwork and public speaking, and are something you can add to your CV.
          2. Don’t read too much fiction. Focus your time on reading books with a purpose. There’s nothing wrong with a good plot and immersive storyline; however, look to improve your personal development by reading some books that will get you thinking about your career path or improve your general skills.
          3. Model yourself on pro-active students. Find some students in the university with your interests who have been achieving more than just academic results. Seek their coaching. If you find those students and listen to what they have to say, they will help inspire you towards being a driven individual with your time.
          4. Kill Facebook. I understand that Facebook isn’t dead yet, but kill it for yourself. Download Newsfeed Killer and start taking advantage of not seeing what people are up to and getting distracted by this. This will be a golden feature during coursework and exam time. Over time you will reduce your usage dramatically. 
            Screenshot 2014-05-29 at 08.23.42

            • Keep that inbox empty. Bring everything of importance over to Evernote. Don’t let it cause clutter – it is very easy to start doing. If you have a choked up inbox at the moment, have a big clear out and get rid of everything.
              Screenshot 2014-05-29 at 08.27.45

              Featured photo credit: Flickr via flickr.com

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              Last Updated on September 11, 2019

              Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

              Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

              How often do you feel overwhelmed and disorganized in life, whether at work or home? We all seem to struggle with time management in some area of our life; one of the most common phrases besides “I love you” is “I don’t have time”. Everyone suggests working from a to-do list to start getting your life more organized, but why do these lists also have a negative connotation to them?

              Let’s say you have a strong desire to turn this situation around with all your good intentions—you may then take out a piece of paper and pen to start tackling this intangible mess with a to-do list. What usually happens, is that you either get so overwhelmed seeing everything on your list, which leaves you feeling worse than you did before, or you make the list but are completely stuck on how to execute it effectively.

              To-do lists can work for you, but if you are not using them effectively, they can actually leave you feeling more disillusioned and stressed than you did before. Think of a filing system: the concept is good, but if you merely file papers away with no structure or system, the filing system will have an adverse effect. It’s the same with to-do lists—you can put one together, but if you don’t do it right, it is a fruitless exercise.

              Why Some People Find That General To-Do Lists Don’t Work?

              Most people find that general to-do lists don’t work because:

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              • They get so overwhelmed just by looking at all the things they need to do.
              • They don’t know how to prioritize the items on list.
              • They feel that they are continuously adding to their list but not reducing it.
              • There’s a sense of confusion seeing home tasks mixed with work tasks.

              Benefits of Using a To-Do List

              However, there are many advantages working from a to-do list:

              • You have clarity on what you need to get done.
              • You will feel less stressed because all your ‘to do’s are on paper and out of your mind.
              • It helps you to prioritize your actions.
              • You don’t overlook so many tasks and forget anything.
              • You feel more organized.
              • It helps you with planning.

              4 Golden Rules to Make a To-Do List Work

              Here are my golden rules for making a “to-do” list work:

              1. Categorize

              Studies have shown that your brain gets overwhelmed when it sees a list of 7 or 8 options; it wants to shut down.[1] For this reason, you need to work from different lists. Separate them into different categories and don’t have more than 7 or 8 tasks on each one.

              It might work well for you to have a “project” list, a “follow-up” list, and a “don’t forget” list; you will know what will work best for you, as these titles will be different for everybody.

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              2. Add Estimations

              You don’t merely need to know what has to be done, but how long it will take as well in order to plan effectively.

              Imagine on your list you have one task that will take 30 minutes, another that could take 1 hour, and another that could take 4 hours. You need to know the moment you look at the task, otherwise you undermine your planning, so add an extra column to your list and include your estimation of how long you think the task will take, and be realistic!

              Tip: If you find it a challenge to estimate accurately, then start by building this skill on a daily basis. Estimate how long it will take to get ready, cook dinner, go for a walk, etc., and then compare this to the actual time it took you. You will start to get more accurate in your estimations.

              3. Prioritize

              To effectively select what you should work on, you need to take into consideration: priority, sequence and estimated time. Add another column to your list for priority. Divide your tasks into four categories:

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              • Important and urgent
              • Not urgent but important
              • Not important but urgent
              • Not important or urgent

              You want to work on tasks that are urgent and important of course, but also, select some tasks that are important and not urgent. Why? Because these tasks are normally related to long-term goals, and when you only work on tasks that are urgent and important, you’ll feel like your day is spent putting out fires. You’ll end up neglecting other important areas which most often end up having negative consequences.

              Most of your time should be spent on the first two categories.

              4.  Review

              To make this list work effectively for you, it needs to become a daily tool that you use to manage your time and you review it regularly. There is no point in only having the list to record everything that you need to do, but you don’t utilize it as part of your bigger time management plan.

              For example: At the end of every week, review the list and use it to plan the week ahead. Select what you want to work on taking into consideration priority, time and sequence and then schedule these items into your calendar. Golden rule in planning: don’t schedule more than 75% of your time.

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              Bottom Line

              So grab a pen and paper and give yourself the gift of a calm and clear mind by unloading everything in there and onto a list as now, you have all the tools you need for it to work. Knowledge is useless unless it is applied—how badly do you want more time?

              To your success!

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              Featured photo credit: Emma Matthews via unsplash.com

              Reference

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