10 Tips & Tricks
For Staying Productive at Home
I'm pretty sure every student knows the feeling. You have a busy, productive day at school, and you head home with a full to-do list and the best of intentions. You'll put on your comfiest clothes, settle in at your desk, and study until dinner. Then, you'll study for a few more hours after that – right up until bed time. Right? But then you get home... and suddenly a power nap seems like a great idea. And then you'll treat yourself to one episode of your favorite show, catch up for a minute with your best friend, and browse Instagram – but just for a little bit! Next thing you know, it's 9:00 at night and you haven't even touched your textbooks. Trust me, you're not alone... it's hard to focus in the comfort of your own home! That's why today, I'm bringing you these 10 tips and tricks to stay productive at home – no matter how appealing the couch looks, or what television shows are on.
Work out your energy before you get started.
It seems counterproductive to "waste" 30 minutes of your precious study time to squeeze in a quick workout, but it's really not a waste at all. In fact, according to this Forbes article, exercising for 30 minutes a day can actually increase your energy, sharpen your focus, and improve your memory – all things that will benefit your studying!
Dedicate a tidy space to your work.
I'm a firm believer that mess causes stress, and I cannot get anything done if my desk is a cluttered mess. Before you get started, clean off your desk and toss any old papers. Having a neat, clean space to work in will help you focus on the task at hand. However, don't go overboard with the cleaning! You don't need to do your laundry, vacuum your floor, and wash your windows. That's just another form of procrastination, trust me.
Make a plan.
A plan is just a to-do list in order of priority. Before you dive into your work, make a plan of action with the things you absolutely want to get done during this study or homework session. For example, list the things due tomorrow at the top of your plan – those are the things you definitely need to get done first. Set a goal for how many things on your list you can get done that day – just make sure it's realistic, so you don't get discouraged.
Eliminate social media distractions.
I don't know about you, but I can't not look at a notification when it pops up. It's a horrible habit! Once I click on the notification, I inevitably somehow end up scrolling through social media, wasting precious time. Avoid this dilemma by getting rid of the temptation altogether! I personally use the app Self Control to block websites for a set amount of time, but there are plenty of different apps and programs that do the same thing. I block Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter – you can set whichever websites you personally need to avoid. It's a lifesaver!
Tailor your workspace so it's perfect for you.
I focus best when I'm content, so I always set up my workspace so it's cozy and perfect for me. I light a candle, put on my fuzzy slippers, and put on my Spotify classical music playlist. I always have a water bottle nearby, and I prefer being near natural light. What do you like in your space? It may take some trial and error, but once you figure out your magic formula, working from home becomes a treat!
Plan breaks and mini-rewards.
No matter how motivated you are, you'll need to take some breaks to get refocused and re-energized. My FitBit tells me to get up and move around ten minutes before each hour ends, and I use that time to go on a short little stroll around my house and backyard (with my dogs in tow). Do something similar! Get up and stretch once an hour, or go outside for some fresh air every couple of hours. Plan little treats, like making yourself a cup of hot chocolate after an hour and a half of studying, or watching a YouTube video after you complete each task on your list.
Set time goals.
If you're anything like me, setting time goals can create a sense of urgency – which, in turn, makes me hyper-focused on the task at hand. For each task on your list, pick a realistic time goal and set an alarm. When that timer starts, you better get going! Racing against the clock gives me a boost of energy – and it motivates me to not waste time staring out the window or petting my dogs!
Say "no" to anything that conflicts with your productivity.
If you're serious about being productive and getting stuff done, you've got to say "no" to anything that gets in the way of that. You and I both know that a quick Starbucks run with a friend will never actually be that quick, and you're probably not going to get much done after attending a school baseball game. Even short, planned interruptions can throw off an entire afternoon of work – so just say no!
Focus on one thing at a time.
Multi-tasking is a great skill to have, but it's not one you should be using while you're being productive at home. Instead, focus on one thing at a time. Give your full attention to whatever task you're working on, and forget the rest (temporarily). If you try to do too many things at once, you'll end up getting overwhelmed and not getting anything done!
Set yourself up for success.
You know yourself, and you know what you need to work best. Don't turn on the TV and convince yourself that you can get work done while it plays in the background. Don't attempt to study with your most rambunctious and talkative friend. Don't keep your phone next to you, texting and Instagramming while trying to study for an exam. Set yourself up for success by eliminating all the distractions or potential distractions, and buckle down! Your future self will thank you.