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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 April 22, 2021

              How to Work Hard the Smart Way: 4 Daily Rituals to Follow

              How to Work Hard the Smart Way: 4 Daily Rituals to Follow

              Habits are what sets an average leader apart from a great leader. We can argue that talent is the biggest factor; we may debate how the amount of charisma sets the two apart. Yet, if you were to show me what you believed to be a great leader, I can show you the habits that made her/him great. Great leaders have great habits and know how to work hard the smart way.

              Developing Great Habits Is Hard Work

              In my early college days, I had spent a lot of time learning how to play the trumpet. Playing the trumpet took time and discipline. I had some natural talent, but not enough to hide my lack of ability. My trumpet teacher was a man of discipline, and there was no doubt he had talent. What stood to me was his work ethic. He had to be one of the hardest working mentors that I had the privilege of working with.

              One afternoon, I was in his office getting ready for my weekly trumpet lesson. As I was preparing, my eyes scanned the room and saw that there were quotes all over his office. My eyes rested on one quote that forever changed my thinking about my playing. It was a quote from my high school basketball coach Tim Notke that would become popular through professional athletes Kevin Durant and Tim Tebow:

              “Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”

              Hard work trumps talent. The key to success is not found in your talent or ability. Talent and ability are necessary, but they are not the primary factors. They are supporting roles in the story you are writing.

              Ultimately, hard work is the key to your success. A good work ethic creates the momentum that propels you forward towards your goals.

              Motivation Is Not the Answer

              How many times have you seen someone go to a conference, get inspired, and then come home and do nothing?

              If motivation were the answer, the world would have transformed hundreds of times over. Yet, when we look out our doors or turn on the news, we do not see a utopian society.

              We have thousands of people who become inspired but lack the work ethic to apply anything they have learned. Time and time again frustration creeps in. We are so motivated and inspired by what we see but fail to put in place the things that would change our lives.

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              Frustration happens when the gap between what you expect to be true and what is true gets bigger. Motivation tends to create an expectation that is not rooted in reality. We want to take on the world but cannot get off Netflix long enough to do so.

              Motivation is not the answer, but working hard is. Good habits and routines that produce success are the byproducts of a strong work ethic. The habits and routines we create and follow are the foundation on which we build a winning life.

              How to Work Hard by Working Smarter

              Here are 4 routines that will help you learn how to work hard and achieve your short term and long term goals.

              1. Define What a Win Looks Like

              In football, a player that crosses into the end zone gain points. In soccer, a player kicks the ball into the net to score. Hockey, lacrosse, and basketball are all the same. The player takes the object and moves it into the designated area to gain points. The team with the most points wins the game.

              Why is it that we can define what a win looks like in sports, but we fail to do so in our leadership, our businesses, or our homes?

              Learning how to work hard without setting a target is futile. It is insanity to work hard without having a clear direction to place your energy. I would argue that defining a win is one of the most important routines that a leader can have. Defining a win separates superficial activity from meaningful activity.

              When I define a win, I know the goal line I have to cross[1]. Knowing where the goal line is informs me of the activity I have to engage in to cross it. Without a clear direction, I am spinning my wheels hoping that I will get to a destination I haven’t defined. It is like asking a GPS for directions but failing to input the destination.

              4 Steps to Define a Win
              • Know the outcome you desire.
              • Declare the outcome in specific, meaningful terms.
              • Write the outcome down.
              • Set your activity list to only do that which will complete your goals.

              Let me give you an example. 15 years ago, I started speaking professionally. As a young and naïve speaker, I thought winning meant that I had to get a reaction from the audience. If they cheered, smiled, or cried, I considered myself a winner. The problem was my lack of understanding of what a win looked like. As a seasoned speaker, my wins look different.

              As of today, when I speak, I am not looking for any emotional reactions from the audience. I win if, and only if, I clearly communicated my point so that anyone hearing the talk can take it and apply it to their lives that day. That is how I define a win when I speak now.

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              Create a habit of declaring a win. When you do, you will see your productivity soar and your encouragement increase. Pairing a hard work ethic with wise decisions creates victory. Stop being a mouse on a wheel that goes nowhere, and start being the captain of your fleet.

              2. Evaluate Your Activity

              Not all activity is equal. There are things you must do, things you need to do, and things we can either give away or delete. The greatest challenge of a leader is understanding the difference. Understanding what activity is busywork and what activity is mission work is pivotal.

              Not only do we need to learn how to evaluate our activity, but we must make this a core routine in our arsenal of success. Stop working so hard on everything and start learning how to work hard on the right things.

              Not every activity will move the needle forward for you. In fact, you were never meant to do everything yourself! Once we stop trying to be a martyr in our leadership, we can start looking at how to take things off our plates through delegation.

              Based on the Eisenhower box, there are 4 things that we look at when deciding on which activities are important:

              • Do now
              • Plan to do it later
              • Delegate to someone else
              • Delete it

              Powerful questions are the way you discover if the activity is right or not:

              • Does this activity move me towards or away from my goals?
              • Do I have to do this activity or can I give this activity away to someone else?
              • Does this activity have to be now right now or can it be scheduled for later dates?
              • Does this activity have to be done at all?

              Evaluating the type of activity you engage in should be a routine that you do daily. Learning how to work hard should create progress. Having a system of evaluation and a routine to do it will help.

              3. Prioritize Your Calendar

              If you were to show me your calendar, I could show you why you are not further along. When you lack the routine of placing things on your calendar, two things happen.

              First, what does not make it on your calendar does not get done.

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              It is a simple truth that is often overlooked. Your calendar contains the power to change your life. Yet, we don’t use our calendars to their fullest potential.

              “You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” -John C. Maxwell

              Also, if you don’t mark you activities on your calendar, you are leaving it open to other’s priorities.

              “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” -Stephen Covey

              Having a routine in your life where you place things on your calendar is pivotal to your success. This is not a routine one should overlook.

              It’s time to take your leadership and business to the next level. It’s time to start putting your daily routines on your calendar, along with your priorities.

              4. Reflect on Your Day and Plan the Next

              We are all about the morning routine. Whatever that looks like for you, there should be a routine in the morning that sets you up for success.

              Hard work starts when your feet hit the ground in the morning. Creating the habit of winning starts with the first thing you accomplish that morning. If you win your morning, you will win your day.

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              Best Morning Routine to Prepare to Work Hard

                But how often have you heard people talk about an evening routine? Tomorrow is won the day before it happens. When you fail to plan your day, you may put your effort toward in the wrong things. Route replaces routine. Indecision replaces decisiveness. Losses replace wins. The discouragement will deflate your momentum and increases the chances of procrastination. That is why we set our schedule the night before.

                “Every battle is won or lost before it is ever fought.” -Sun Tzu

                Working hard doesn’t have to be hard work. It shouldn’t take much out of you learn how to work hard as long as you work smart. Having a time where you reflect on the day and set your priorities is the difference-maker.

                Use these questions to reflect on your day:

                • What went well?
                • What didn’t go well?
                • What can I change?
                • What do I need to start doing?
                • What do I need to stop doing?

                The Bottom Line

                Navigating through life is hard work. Yet, the work doesn’t have to be hard when you work smarter. When you create routines that support your mission, you create wins. Working hard, the smart way will tip the balance in our favor.

                Boxing legend Joe Frazier said:

                “Champions aren’t made in the ring; they are merely recognized there.”

                Champions put in the hard work behind the scenes. The world recognized them as a champion when they saw the results of the hard work. Right now, you are doing the work of creating a champion in yourself.

                That work is setting your routines in order because you now know that success flows from your daily routines. If you are not experiencing the success you desire, then it is time to change things up.

                More on Creating Healthy Routines

                Featured photo credit: Zan via unsplash.com

                Reference

                [1] The Balance Careers: Interview Question: “How Do You Define Success?”

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