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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 17, 2020

              5 Practical Ways to Get Over a Mental Block

              5 Practical Ways to Get Over a Mental Block

              There’s nothing quite like a state of “flow” when you’re working. The rare moments when your inspiration aligns with your motivation likely lead to some of your most creative work. Plus, it feels great to actually check a task or project off the list so you can move on to the next thing. Meanwhile, a mental block — its opposite — can cause work to feel laborious and uninspired. Forget creativity when you have a mental block — it makes it difficult even to start working on what you need to do.

              A mental block can manifest in several ways. Perhaps your imposter syndrome is squelching your creative ideas, for instance, or you’re overwhelmed by the breadth of a project and its impending deadline. Maybe you’re just tired or stressed.

              Either way, having a mental block feels like being trapped in your own head, and it can seriously dampen your ability to think outside the box. The problem is, you’re so locked into your own perspective that you don’t see more innovative approaches to your problems.[1]

              Luckily, jumping over these mental hurdles is simpler than you think. You just need the right strategies to get your flow back.

              Try these five practical ways to overcome a mental block.

              1. Break Your Project Down

              A few years ago, I was working on changing a company product that I believed would hugely benefit our customers. Sounds great, right?

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              As inspired as I was to make people’s lives easier, though, the sheer magnitude of the task at hand felt overwhelming. Every morning, I cracked open my laptop to work and felt totally paralyzed. I loved the idea, yes, but actualizing it felt risky. What if it didn’t turn out the way I pictured in my mind? More importantly, where would I even begin?

              A former colleague gave me great advice over coffee:

              Change how you think. Start by breaking the big project down into small tasks.

              When a major project overwhelms you, you only see the entire forest instead of the individual trees. And as you stare it down, you start to feel discouraged by your own lack of progress, thus slowing you down further.

              Breaking down a massive task into smaller chunks makes the work feel more manageable. You’ll have multiple clear places to start and end with, which will lend a motivating sense of productivity and mastery to your process. Learn more about it here: The Motivation Flowchart: The Mental Process of Successful People

              Think of it as accumulating small wins. When you realize you’re more capable than you have once thought, you’ll develop the momentum and confidence needed to get your big job done little by little.[2]

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              2. Change Up Your Scenery

              Of course, there’s a time and place for sitting down to get things done. But if you’re experiencing a mental block, switching up your surroundings can make a big difference in your output.

              Have you ever noticed how your environment directly impacts your performance and mood?

              Your brain associates your physical surroundings with certain feelings and activities. So, if you feel mentally stuck, your mind may need some new sensory stimuli.

              During this time in your life, it may not be possible to set up shop at a cafe or move from your cubicle to a conference room, so you may need to think outside the box. If you’re working remotely in a home office, try going to your dining table or couch. If the weather cooperates, sit outside for a bit with your computer or take a walk around the block.

              You can also simply rearrange your workspace. Not sure where to begin? Try decluttering. Some studies show that an organized desk enhances productivity.[3]

              The point is to stimulate your brain with new sounds and sights. You may find a much-needed dose of inspiration when you work while breathing in the fresh air, listening to city sounds, or staying in the comfort of your own living space.

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              3. Do an Unrelated Activity

              When it comes to productivity, a bit of distraction isn’t always a bad thing. That’s especially true if your chosen distraction helps you get things done in the long run.

              Have you realized how your most creative thoughts tend to bubble up when you’re, say, lying in bed or taking a shower? In their research of the “incubation period,” scientists have discovered that people’s best ideas seem to surface when they aren’t actively trying to solve a problem.[4]

              In a 2010 study, participants needed to look for a roommate or new employee based on the profiles that the researchers gave. The people who had a brief “incubation period” — in this case, working on an anagram — consistently made better choices than those who spent more time weighing their options.

              If you can’t seem to prime your brain for a project, try doing something completely unrelated to work, such as washing your dishes, working out, or calling a friend. Some experts say finding another low-stake project to work on can help jump-start the creative part of your brain and activate your flow.[5]

              The key is to allow your unconscious mind to do its best work: eliciting the new knowledge your conscious mind may be ignoring or suppressing.[6]

              4. Be Physical

              Feeling antsy? When your mind won’t seem to settle into a state of flow, it may help to swap out your mental activity for a physical one and see how it impacts your perspective.

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              While any physical activity is beneficial for your body — and getting up to move can serve as a helpful form of distraction — certain forms of exercise can more directly impact the mind. To be specific, relaxing, flow-based exercises like dance, yoga, or tai chi can create a gentle sense of momentum in your body, which can prime your brain for the same state.

              Stress-reducing activities may also be necessary. Meditating or taking slow, deep breaths will also calm your nervous system if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Evidence shows that the logical, creative part of your brain essentially shuts off when you’re stressed.[7]

              On the flip side, when your mind and body are relaxed, you can think more clearly, be more creative, and focus for longer periods — all of which will help you overcome a mental block.

              5. Don’t Force It

              It can be frustrating to fight against your own mind. If your mental block won’t go away after some effort, it may be time to take a break. Forcing creative thoughts only adds to your stress levels, which in turn inhibits your ability to think creatively. And if you sit and stare at a project for too long, you’ll not only waste valuable time but also begin to associate this specific work with frustration and produce work you’re not proud of.

              “I know that forcing something is not going to create anything beyond mediocre, so I step aside and work on a different project until it hits me,” the artist Ben Skinner said about his creative process.[8]

              If your work isn’t time-sensitive, then it may make sense to step away for a while to focus on something else, be it an administrative task that requires less creativity or a project that you feel motivated to work on.

              When the time is right, you’ll find your way back to the original task with a fresh, creative perspective (hopefully).

              More on Getting Rid of a Mental Block

              Featured photo credit: Jonas Leupe via unsplash.com

              Reference

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