Being productive is something we all want, and often struggle to achieve. Successfully navigating college involves a high level of productivity, but getting sidetracked is a common problem that many students face.
Little habits that creep in can soon become entrenched, sapping concentration and motivation. Becoming aware of these is a good first step in dealing with college life—and enjoying it.
There are seven common habits that get in the way of being productive.
1. Trying to multitask
Our brains are not built to manage more than one task at a time. A study on the subject revealed that only 2.5% of research participants could multitask successfully. Stick to one task at a time, finish it, and then move on.
Keeping on top of assignments and tests isn’t easy. Many students find themselves stretched across a number of activities at anyone time. Trying to multitask, however, often results in taking longer to complete things.
2. Constantly checking email and social media
It should come as no surprise that interrupting your work regularly with distractions lowers productivity. The habit of checking social media constantly disrupts your focus and ends up eating away even more time as you try to settle back down to work.
A few tips to help curb this habit include:
– Use tracking apps to monitor how long you spend online
– Use apps to block access to certain websites
– Go back to the basics: switch your phone or other devices off while you complete a task
3. Being too hard on yourself
Some people believe that being ultra-harsh on themselves is good for self-discipline and personal growth. But beating yourself up when things don’t go right can actually make you even less productive than usual. The mental energy it takes to scold yourself saps your concentration, and with it, your ability to work and study.
4. Not taking breaks
It might seem like plowing through tasks without a break is the best way of getting things done efficiently. But not taking breaks can have a negative impact on your productivity.
Getting adequate rest, taking some time out to play games, or do anything else you enjoy increases your overall productivity and reduces your chance of burning out.
5. Waiting for the perfect moment
A common form of procrastination is waiting until you feel “ready” before beginning your work. No matter how tempting this might be, it’s probably one of the worst ways to approach your studies. Before long, this habit can become a full-blown mental block.
6. Leaving difficult tasks until last
This also relates to procrastination and perfectionism. It can be easy to push your more difficult tasks to the back of your mind. However, putting them off can prove disastrous in the long run. By the time you get around to doing whatever needs to be done, it’s likely that you’re tired and unmotivated.
7. Saying yes to everything
Completing assignments, studying for tests and taking part in student activities are all important parts of college life. Despite this, trying to do absolutely everything can get in the way of enjoying your time as a student—as well as destroying productivity.
To produce good work and engage with your studies, you need to set boundaries around how you’re going to spend your time. Learning how to balance life and work is a great skill for everyone to master.
Nobody is productive 100% of the time. Set realistic expectations and manage your time well and you’ll make maintaining a high level of productivity a good habit.