Productivity is a skill that needs to be applied in every field, and it is certainly the most important one a student needs. Following the few tips below can help you improve your productivity and consequently, your academic performance.

1. Sort out your daily routine

Regulating your sleeping and eating pattern is the first step to improve your digestion and productivity levels. Eight hours of sleep are the bare minimum that our body needs, and will help you wake up early in the morning, which is key for a good start to the day.

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Make sure that you put away your devices like laptop and cellphone at least half an hour before going to bed because they emit a light that makes it more difficult to fall asleep. Put in some reasonable time for physical exercise each day, even if it is taking a walk to the library or university.

2. Set Reasonable Goals

Don’t set goals that are too difficult to achieve initially, as this might demotivate you. Rather, set goals that are SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

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You can start with a trigger goal such as putting away your device at a particular time each night. Trigger goals are easy to achieve and will motivate you towards higher ones, such as finishing your first draft of the assignment before the weekend, for instance. Increase the difficulty levels gradually.

3. Plan in detail

Planning in detail, from daily activities to weekly and even monthly ones makes life less stressful puts you more in control. Breaking down tasks and writing them into a diary will help you prioritize things and avoid procrastination.

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For example, you can divide a task such as writing an essay into Sunday – research, Monday – writing an outline, Tuesday – Introduction, etc. Remember to include things we discussed in the daily routine, like eating, sleeping, exercising, etc.

4. Decide on your study place

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Some students like to study in absolute solitude, while others prefer an environment where there are other students, such as a library. It all depends on your comfort level. Whatever you choose, stick to it. Using things like noise-canceling headphones might help, especially during exam periods.

5. Take up the big things first

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Most students try to finish the little tasks first, thinking that this will allow them to focus on the main ones later. Unfortunately, this never succeeds as they get bogged down in these trivialities. Getting the big ones out of the way is a trick that will make your day so much easier (however difficult it may seem initially). Once the mountain is gone, the rest will be a walk in the park.

6. Work in time slots

Dividing your time into slots is a great way to increase productivity levels. Set specific tasks to be performed in these time slots and make sure you adhere to this schedule.

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Slots may not be equally long. It all depends on what is your most productive time – make that the longest.

7. Take a break

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This doesn’t mean you switch from your laptop to checking your messages on your mobile phone. Taking a break means doing something completely unrelated, such as a walk in the park or a cup of tea with your room-mate. Maybe a bit of exercise works best for you. It’s not about how much time you spend studying, but how effectively you use that time.

8. Use your commute

If you have long journeys to college and back or wherever, you can make that time productive by accomplishing small things such as checking on lists, noting ideas so that you don’t forget, and things like that.

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You can even use this time to unwind like we discussed in taking a break, so this can be a part of your productivity plans and not a wastage of time.

9. Make a back-up

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It would be tragic if all that hard work and lists and details were suddenly lost because your laptop crashed and can’t be repaired. Do take this point seriously and back your work up on an external hard drive or Google Drive.

10. Avoid social media

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This is easier said than done, but it has to be done. You may argue that it is your way of winding down, but research shows that social media actually does more harm than good during times of stress for students. Every time you get a message and look at your phone, you’re pulled out of the study zone and it takes a few seconds to get back into it. Think of all that time wasted!

Finally, remember that everyone has different tendencies, and what works for some may not for someone else. You need to work out your best productivity plan… but everyone must have one!