I’ve been a master procrastinator throughout my life. I developed this bad habit during my school and college life. I used to skip studies until last night of exam. Therefore, I had public image of ‘The guy who studies at the last night and scores good marks’ and i was proud of it.
However, when I entered corporate life, This bad habit became one of the biggest obstacle in my job. It took me years to overcome this habit and become highly productive. From my personal experience, Here are 20 Productivity Hacks Students Can Use To Be 400% More Productive:
Part 1: Understand why you are not productive
1. Understand your time wasters
We all have 24-hours in a day. Still, some people are able to get the most out of it to achieve all of their dreams. As discussed in the previous article, For gaining total control over your time, we need to understand top time stealers that are wasting your time. Here is the list of top activities that waste our time:
- Addictions of popular activities like gossiping, binge-watching, social media
- Worrying about the problems
- Lack of planning and to-do list
- Being a perfectionist
- Saying yes too often
Understanding your time stealers is the first step for productivity. You can use your willpower and tools like “StayFocussed’ to refrain from these activities thus utilizing your time effectively.
2. Understand the basics of Procrastination
Procrastination happens when we’re doing an uncomfortable task and we face some negative emotions – boredom, anxiety, overwhelm, frustration. We don’t know how to deal with these negative emotions and we procrastinate to avoid these emotions. Now, our mind gives stupid reasons to validate our procrastination:
- I have too much time left. LEt’s first watch a movie and then I will do it
- I’m too tired. Let’s sleep. I’ll have more energy then.
- Not feeling good. Let me watch the Youtube video. After that, I will start it.
- Let’s first drink coffee. Then, I will do it.
- Let me first search for articles to be more productive. Then I will do it 🙂
Sound familiar? Becoming aware of why you procrastinate and how you procrastinate is the essential step that helps in controlling it.
3. Understand Distractions
We live in an age of massive distraction. Facebook, email, smartphones, video games, TVs, News, etc are some attractive distractions that keep us away from pursuing our goals. Even when we start our work, we can’t maintain our ‘flow’ state due to these massive distractions. We often start working on our project but end up watching a random videos about a celebrity due to distraction. If we want any chance of getting meaningful things done and getting a grip on our procrastination, we need to find ways to reduce and resist temptations. We will discuss steps to control distractions later in this post.
Read Also: Ten Magic Secrets To a Happy Life
Part 2: PLANNING
4. Design your environment to serve you
Whether this is cleaning your office, eliminating distractions, getting rid of bad influences, or surrounding yourself with like-minded people. Designing your environment to push yourself in the direction you desire par will have a disproportionately positive effect on your success.
5. Write it down
Your mind is a great place to have ideas, but a terrible place to manage them. Write all your pending tasks, fears, desires, goals on paper. Otherwise, you’re feeling confused and overwhelmed a lot of the time.
6. SMART goals
Set your monthly, weekly, daily measurable goals. If your goals are too easy, you will lose interest. If they are too difficult for you, you will start procrastination. So, Set realistic goals for time periods such that they are challenging for you but still are achievable.
Have an overarching goal for the day – Each night, write one down for the next day. If you complete this, it was a successful day.
7. Check external solutions to your problem before inventing a new one
There’s a high chance that the problem you have in your work, code, studies, gym routine, etc. have been had and dealt with time and time again. So, you don’t need to necessarily reinvent the wheel. A google search for your problem can save a lot of your time. Always, search for existing solutions before inventing from scratch.
Do the things that are really important for your goals. don’t confuse activity with productivity.
- Pareto Principle: The Pareto Principle helps you realize that the majority of results come from a minority of inputs. The 80/20 rule means that even if you spend equal time on each item, two of those items in particular will carry the bulk of the results you want. So don’t make an equal to-do list. Instead, write a to-do list with your heavy-hitters first. Figure out which items are most likely to deliver your biggest results, and start there.
- Do the most difficult things first – This could be at the start of your day, the beginning of a project, or the first hour of your study session. After completing this task, you’ll have not only done something meaningful with your day but you’ll feel the momentum carry through to other tasks.
Read Also: How To Learn Anything Quickly
Part 3: TAKING ACTIONS
9. Start small
Trick yourself into productivity the same way you trick yourself into procrastination. Start small without expecting too many results.
When you tell yourself “just one more game” or “just one more FB post”, or “just one more video” and end up doing 3-5 hours more,
We can use this technique to finish our tasks also! “just one line of code”, “just one tutorial”, “just one rep”, “just one line of reading/writing”. We all have this amazing mental tool that we’ve been honing for years, the tool of self-deception. Time to use it for good and not evil.
10. Focus On The Next Step, Not The Next Thousand Steps
One major reason many of us procrastinate is that we’re feeling overwhelmed. Feeling overwhelmed is uncomfortable, which means we probably feel an urge to run away and procrastinate This is especially true when we’re facing big projects, which are, by their very nature, challenging and overwhelming. Instead of putting off a big project, start by breaking it down into small, actionable steps. Create a list of all the things you need to do. Once you have the list, forget about the project and focus on doing just one thing on your list. Multitasking may appear efficient but it reduces overall efficiency and performance as it breaks our focus and flow state.
Get in the habit of asking yourself, what’s the next action I can take? Make it small and concrete and then get started on it. Don’t allow yourself to worry about the next thousand steps, focus on taking the next one.
11. Use Parkinson’s Law for productivity
Work expands to fill the time available for its completion – means that if you give yourself a week to complete a two-hour task, then (psychologically speaking) the task will increase in complexity and become more daunting so as to fill that week. It may not even fill the extra time with more work, but just stress and tension about having to get it done. By assigning the right amount of time to a task, we gain back more time and the task will reduce in complexity to its natural state.
12. Delegate and automate
Learn to delegate tasks to your team members, family, and friends. Solve the initial barriers for them and trust them for the tasks. It will not only save your time but also will help them grow. Similarly, automate your daily repetitive tasks as much as possible.
13. Make tasks less painful and more pleasurable in your mind
Human brains work on the principle of pain and pleasure. We want to avoid pain and seek pleasures. You can use this principle to your benefit in the following ways.
- Make it pleasurable: Before starting any work, say to yourself “it’s easy and interesting”. In reality no work is easy or difficult. It’s our perception about the work that makes all the difference.
- Connect tasks to your values and future goals. In order to make seemingly meaningless tasks more attractive and relevant, you need to connect them to your values and bigger goals. This allows you to see how present tasks lead to a better future, which helps you value them more highly. All of a sudden, you want to do them because they help you reach your goals. The result: less procrastination.
- Promise yourself a reward. If you promise yourself a million bucks for finishing your dissertation, procrastination will not be an issue. Smaller rewards work, too, of course.
- Gamify it. Challenge yourself, set your own standards, create a feedback loop, or try to beat your score. How many of these can you get done in 20 minutes? Can you do it in less time? Can you do it one-handed or with eyes closed?
14. Handle distractions
- The two-minute rule. We procrastinate on many small things, that when they pile up, it becomes an actual problem. The solution is simple: “If the next action can be done in two minutes or less, do it now.” If it takes more than that, put it in your to-do list for later. This is easily one of the most powerful rules in the productivity game.
- Stop procrastination: The process of procrastination is always the same. It happens when we’re facing an uncomfortable task and inevitably encounter some negative emotions – boredom, anxiety, overwhelm, frustration. Because these emotions are uncomfortable (research shows they literally cause pain in our brains!), we want to avoid and get rid of them. That’s when procrastination happens: to relieve negative emotions, we distract ourselves with something that feels better.
Part 4: FINISHING IT UP
15. Expect Setbacks and Respond With Self-Forgiveness
Self-forgiveness, rather than self-punishment, reduces procrastination. It’s all about creating a place of safety and care, rather than fear. Once you’re operating from a safe place, you’ll find yourself less in need of procrastination. The more self-compassionate you are, the less you’ll procrastinate. When you sincerely care about yourself, you’ll want the best for yourself – and that’s never procrastination.
16. Verbalize a problem that you’re struggling with
Either to a friend, co-worker, or to yourself. When you start explaining your problem, there’s a good chance that you’ll work it out. The amount of times that the answer has just been staring at me is too high to count. #RubberDuckDebugging
17. Write down the mistakes and lessons learned
We almost always repeat our mistakes, it’s too hard to remember the lessons we thought we learned. Writing them down and revisiting them helps us etch them into our memory. Persistence is the key to success. After facing failures, take a step back, see the bigger picture, re-strategize, and go boldly towards your goal again.
Part 5: Long term solutions
18. Build your focus and willpower
Focus and willpower are the main factors that differentiate successful people from others. Where our focus goes, our energy flows which helps in manifesting our dreams.
- Focus can be improved by meditation and giving full attention to each task whatever you are doing. For example: if you are talking to a person, give him your undivided attention.
- Willpower is a muscle that requires regular practice. It can be improved by maintaining integrity: Finishing what you started and giving value to your words.
19. Optimize your energy
Think about it in your own life. When are you most likely to procrastinate – when you are full of energy or when you are feeling tired?
The best way to optimize your energy is to eat well, exercise well, and sleep well.
- Love yourself: Self love can make you feel active and full of energy throughout the day. Stop judging yourself, Accept yourself and love yourself.
- Eat well: All food provides the body with energy, but this energy can vary greatly. Some foods, such as sugars and refined carbs, give the body a quick jolt of energy. However, more often, the body needs more sustainable energy from ingredients such as fruits, grains, and legumes.
- Exercise well: Exercise turns out to be the closest thing to a wonder drug that can boost your energies. 20 minutes of morning workout helps in being active throughout the day.
- Sleep well: The right amount of sleep can enhance a person’s problem-solving skills, as well as memory retention. The brain needs to feel as fresh as possible to be able to work at maximum capacity. Think of it as charging a mobile.
Exercising regularly, getting high-quality sleep, and eating healthy are absolute musts if you want to live optimally, be more productive, and procrastinate less.
20. Change your identity:
You are always late in your submissions because it’s part of your self-image. One of the strongest forces in Human nature is to stay consistent with their identity.
Top Athletes don’t practice hard because of motivation or any other external factor. They do because this is how they know themselves. You can also change your personality. Change your identity to a person who is a problem solver, who has integrity and who is focussed on goals and you will see the changes in your daily behavior and habits. Identity can be changed using affirmations, Visualisations, and lofty questions. We will cover this topic in future posts.
Bonus TIP: Love your work
If you love your work, if you enjoy it, you’re already a success. As Steve Jobs said: “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”
Conclusion: These 20 steps along have personally helped me in boosting my productivity to a great extent. We need to understand that our time is limited and we need to focus on things that matter most for us.
So, What are you waiting for? Stop wasting your time and start living a meaningful life.
That’s it. Let us know in comments what are your personal stories of procrastination? What are your strategies to be highly productive? Leave a comment below, and thanks for reading!