Sometimes you may not even feel like getting to work. When this happens, take a minute to prepare yourself mentally. Set a timer for a minute and tell yourself that you’ll start work when the timer goes off. By doing this, you’ll be much more likely to get to work at the end of the minute. This is called an “implementation intention”. Any time you signal to yourself an intention to do something, it makes it easier to begin that task. In this case, the implementation intention is to set a timer for a minute before starting a study session, if you feel like procrastinating. So, if you find it hard to motivate yourself to start studying, take a minute and prepare yourself mentally. By doing this, you will eliminate the resistance you were experiencing.
If you want to take it to the next level, use Focusmate instead. With Focusmate, you make a pre-commitment to study for a 50-minute period at least one day in advance. You then get paired with a real-life accountability partner. You must turn on your webcam during the 50-minute session. This means that you and your study partner can see and hear each other during the study session. If you leave your desk without giving an explanation, your study partner can report you, and vice versa. Similarly, if you don’t turn up to your study session or if you are late, your study partner can report you. Non-compliance results in the system marking you down. If your score falls below a certain level, the system will eventually lock you out. But if you keep your commitments and complete your study session, the system will reward you with points.
This tip may sound strange, but it works. Set up your webcam or your phone camera to record a video of yourself studying. The idea is to create accountability. Instead of having a friend check on your progress, you have a camera watching everything you do. Knowing that you are being watched will remind you of your objective. Just when you’re about to get distracted, you’ll remember that everything you’re doing is being recorded. It’s a useful reminder to yourself that you’ve made a commitment to study.
If you want to go all out, you can try eliminating time wasters entirely. That means no more video games, TV, and social media during working hours. While this isn’t necessary, it can be useful if you find yourself easily distracted by non-important activities, and find that other productivity tricks do not work well for you.
Waking up early is a great way to get more work done, especially if you wake up before anyone else does. Waking up before others do will give you the peace and quiet needed to work without distractions, and seeing the sun rise in the mornings will help you feel more energized throughout the day.
When you start to feel a lull in your work, or when you start to feel tired all of the time, it could be a sign that your body isn’t as healthy as it could be. When you start to feel a lull in your energy levels, try taking a short break to exercise and drink water. It doesn’t have to be a heavy workout, just some stretches or basic strength exercises will help increase your blood flow. When you’re starting to feel constantly tired, and for no good reason, it’s a big sign that something is wrong with your health. Try to increase the amount of sunlight and exercise you get, make sure you’re getting 7-8 hours of sleep each day, and stay hydrated.
Setting goals is a great way to stay motivated, and will give you a great sense of accomplishment when you complete them.
Do you have periods in the day where you aren’t doing anything productive at all? I like to call these periods ‘dead time’. A good way to increase your productivity is to work during these dead times. Even though it may not be much, just a few minutes to an hour each day, that time will quickly add up. For example, if you travel for 3 hours every week, you can use that time to read, write, listen to audio books, listen to educational pod casts, etc. All of that time will add up to 156 hours a year, or 6.5 days. Over a lifetime, that could be 390 days, or over a year, wasted if you don’t make use of dead time.
Remember when I was telling you about sorting things by urgency and importance? Phone notifications are one of those things that are urgent, but not important. Eliminate that distraction by turning off the notifications on your phone. Those emails, social media alerts, and text messages will still be there in a few hours. In the mean time you can focus on your school work.
The brain is able to process information more effectively in an uncluttered environment. This is what researchers at the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute discovered. As such, it’s a good idea to place on your desk only the items that you need to complete the task at hand. For example, this might consist of the assignment, a pen, a pencil, an eraser, and a calculator. Make a list of what items you’ll need during your study session. Make sure you have only those items on your desk. If your study area is disorganised, take a couple of minutes to tidy it up before you start work. Having things neat and tidy has a calming effect on your mind and will help you to concentrate.