Time is one of our most important assets. We live in a world that is constantly trying to get us to use our time in a way that benefits other peoples agendas and this is not always in line with our goals and values. For this reason, people all over the world are always looking for ways to stay focused on their goals and not to be pulled into things that do not align with their goals. Often times people refer to this pulling away from their goals as ‘procrastination’.
Throughout my time at university, I have had many jobs and commitments in addition to my degree, and honestly, sometimes I took on too much, but in this process, I have developed my time management skills and a big part of that is that ability to focus on the task at hand and that often means, finishing it quickly and being able to move onto the next thing. These are some of the habits that I have developed that have made a massive difference:
Don’t lie to yourself
Yes, you heard that right, stop lying to yourself. When I stopped lying to myself was when I saw the biggest boost in my productivity. So for example, your best friend Tom, you know how you are constantly convincing yourself that studying with him is productive when deep down inside you know half of that time is spent chatting about things that couldn’t be further off-topic? In this situation you are lying to yourself, the truth is, you want to study with Tom because you actually do not want to study and the ability to escape into a random conversation at convenience gives you the ability to go to the library but not the ability to study. Counter-intuitive right? Yes, and this happens constantly for a lot of students.
So how do you beat this you ask? Firstly it is by acknowledging the truth (which might or might not be the hypothetical situation I have created). Once you have acknowledged the truth you can identify personal behaviours and characteristics and from this set a goal, remember goals need to be SMART ( specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound). Let’s focus in on realistic, it is probably not realistic that you and Tom will never ever study together again. In fact, there are some good things that come from that relationship and one of them is accountability, so let’s take that to the next level. Why don’t you and Tom still study together but maybe in the quiet or silent section of the library? At the start of the study day, you guys can have your morning coffee together and chat, in this time you can also tell each other what you would like to achieve by the end of the day. This way you are still able to have Tom with you but in this scenario, it is more beneficial to both of your goals.
Give yourself a time limit
You know that feeling you get right before a deadline, where your productivity levels skyrocket and you achieve in 2 hours what could have taken you 2 days to achieve? What if I told you you could have that level of productivity every day not just right before a deadline. I’ll explain how. I found that a lot of the time when I started a day of studying but did not have a clear ending time, I wasted time because I felt I had all the time in the world. I realised that once I set a timeline for the day (and most importantly the end of the day) I was keen to meet all of my targets within the day which boosted my productivity. I usually use Google Calendar to map out my study day. The more specific these targets are the better (remember SMART goals)
Limit your biggest distraction
What is that thing that just always seems to be cutting into your focus time? For me and a lot of other students, it’s our phones. When I feel disengaged with the content I am studying (which is often), I usually out of habit pick up my phone and start scrolling. My absolute biggest study hack is to download Forest. I have talked about it in some of my other blogs and it honestly saved my uni degree. It is a timer you set that grows a tree during the time you set if you leave the app the tree dies and seeing that dead tree is pretty sad. The more trees you grow the more populated your forest is and the more trees you can actually grow. It’s pretty amazing. Here is my forest for this year:
I hope this has been useful!