By: Michelle Young, Staff Writer
Figure out when you’re most productive
I know that every article about working or studying from home insists that waking up early is the embodiment of productivity. However, not everyone will be able to wake up at dawn feeling refreshed and rested. For some people, working in the morning is a good way to start their day. But for others, working in the afternoon or nighttime just makes sense. Figuring out when you’re most motivated to work will be beneficial to you in the long run, and figuring this out will take a little bit of trial and error.
Essentially, try working right when you wake up, and then in the evening or in the afternoon — gauge when you have the most energy to get work done. Whether you’ve eaten right before can also play a role in whether you feel energized or unmotivated. Try to study and do the majority of your work in the timeframe when you feel the most productive, and leave the bulk of the TV binging for when you feel less motivated.
Plan to-do lists, deadlines, and schedules
Once you’ve discovered the best time to get things done, it becomes much easier to plan around it. You don’t have to keep a strict hourly schedule, though breaking up your tasks over the span of a week or two can help you improve your study habits.
Take note of deadlines and make a schedule of how you’ll accomplish tasks on time. Make a to-do list of things you want to achieve each day, and take advantage of when you’re most productive to do those activities. It’s also helpful to finish homework one to two days before it’s due to avoid last-minute scrambling in case you face a roadblock.
When you plan your to-do lists, plan them around concrete goals instead of time. For example, instead of planning to do “an hour” of studying, focus on studying a particular chapter. Rather than spending “half an hour” on your essay, go for a word count. After a while, you’ll be able to gauge how much time certain tasks take you, but using concrete goals will help you stay more productive and organized because you’ve accomplished something by the time you’ve finished a task.
Managing time and work spaces
Digitally, close all school or work-related tabs and documents during your break. This also means closing all social media or personal tabs (except for maybe a music tab) when working. Keep any references you need in a comprehensive document that you can open later. This can aid in staying focused when you’re working, or help relax during breaks.
Physically, try to separate your workspace from your recreation space. I placed my desk diagonal from my bed on the other side of the room to separate these two places as much as possible. When I’m just watching TV or movies on my laptop, I’ll sometimes move over to my bed. If you don’t have a desk or you have a smaller room — try to do your work anywhere other than your bed. This is because of how we associate spaces and what we do in those spaces.
Separate your time as well — taking breaks is also necessary as studies show that learning is more efficient when spread over blocks of time. Try not to engage with anything work or school related when you’re eating or taking breaks. Not only is it important to know when you’re most productive, but it’s also important to set boundaries of when you’re going to start and stop working or studying. For instance, try not to respond to all your emails right before sleeping.
Presentation and clean spaces
No, you don’t need to “dress as if you’re going to work.” Dress comfortably. It’s a waste to wash your nice clothes when you’re just staying home and it’ll wear them down unnecessarily. What I’ve found to be important, though, is keeping up with hygiene. Your comfy clothes should be clean, and showering regularly can help you feel more rejuvenated and motivated.
Regardless of where you’re working, a clean (and nice-smelling) space will help you focus on work and studying. Perhaps it’s just me, but taking the time to clean can also be a nice break from school-related work because it’s productive, but not particularly mentally draining.
Cluttered space, no matter how much you insist doesn’t bother you — will take a mental toll on focus and productivity. Keep surfaces like desks and countertops tidy, wiped down, and dusted. You can try to use spaces like under the desk and under the bed to limit the amount of objects that are visible to the eye. Rearrange things if you want to! Open windows for fresh air to keep your space from being too stuffy.