1. Schedule Your Day
Scheduling allows you to organise time for your goals and tasks that need to be completed.
Scheduling is important for the following reasons:
- You can see exactly how much work needs to be completed
- You can see exactly how much time you have to complete said work
- You're able to see which tasks are meaningless and thus should be eliminated or delegated
- Scheduling your day prevents you from wandering around aimlessly not concentrating fully on any one task
- Scheduling places less stress upon yourself as you now have an actionable plan to follow
Work out what needs to be done
The first step in effectively scheduling your study day is noting down exactly what needs to be done.
This involves breaking every big task into smaller, more actionable steps. For example, don't note down "Complete assignment"; instead note down more actionable steps such as "Complete the introduction" and "Add references".
This allows you to start working immediately once you sit down to work as you'll know exactly what needs to be done.
Other benefits of writing down your tasks are:
- Conserves mental energy as you don't have to memorise your tasks. This allows you to better focus on the job at hand
- No task will go uncompleted. Our memories are fairly unreliable, we often forget certain jobs that we try to memorise
- You know exactly how much needs to be completed, this then lets you schedule an appropriate amount of time for it.
- Studies have shown that those who write down their tasks are 42% more likely to complete them
Note Down Commitments
Next, it's essential that you write down all your commitments for the day.
- Going to work
- Time to cook
- Spending time with family or friends
The reason why you need to note down your commitments is because you don't want to start working and keep getting distracted. This is just a waste of mental energy as it takes time and effort to refocus.
Plan out Time Blocks to Study
Once you've noted down exactly what needs to be done and your commitments for the day, you can now look for periods of time where you can focus on a specific task for a specific amount of time without any distractions.
For example, you may find a 2 hour slot between getting home from work and cooking dinner. You can then schedule that time block for completing Section A of your assignment.
Once you consistently work through these time slots, you'll start to see the amount of work you're completing piling up. Soon you will have achieved what you set out to do without overstressing, just by following an actionable plan.
2. Get a Workout In
It may seem counter-productive to spend some of your study day exercising, but the truth is it could be one of the wisest choices you could make.
As well as the overall health benefits, a vigorous workout has been shown to have the following benefits:
- Raises energy levels
- Improves attention span
- Increases cognitive ability
Perhaps the most important benefit of working out on a study day is the reduction of stress.
Feeling stressed can wreak havoc on your productivity levels. It has been found to not only impair your cognitive ability but use up your mental energy too. You only have so much mental energy in a day and using it up being stressed is far from a good use of it.
A strenuous workout simulates a stressful situation to the body; the body and nervous system will use this as practice for when you really are in a stressful situation and will deal with it appropriately instead of crashing and burning out.
3. Eat a Well Balanced Diet
It's very Cliché but it really does wonders for your productivity.
Examples of how your diet can affect your productivity are the following:
- Foods that are high in sugar may give you a quick energetic boost but will ultimately lead to you crashing and feeling sluggish.
- Similarly, a substantial amount of coffee may give you a spike in energy but soon after it's more than likely you're going to burn out.
- Smaller meals lead to less fluctuations in your energy levels. Stable energy levels allow you to work for longer without crashing.
- Fruit and veg are incredibly easy to digest, therefore you won't be left feeling fatigued unlike the majority of processed foods
Great, you now know the benefits of well balanced diet but what does a balanced diet actually consist of ?
The NHS state you should strive to do the following:
- eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day (see 5 A Day)
- base meals on higher fibre starchy foods like potatoes, bread, rice or pasta
- have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks)
- eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other protein
- choose unsaturated oils and spreads, and eat them in small amounts
- drink plenty of fluids (at least 6 to 8 glasses a day)
By doing the following you're setting yourself up to be at your productive best during your study day!
4. Do Not Sacrifice Sleep
Sleep is one of the most prominent factors in those who work productively and those who struggle to get anything done.
A recent study conducted on sleep quality and it's effects on work productivity found that "Sleep duration (both too little and too long), insomnia, sleepiness, and snoring were all associated with decreased work productivity.
A lack of quality sleep can affect you in the following ways:
- Impaired creativity
- Impaired memory
- Decline in ability to focus
- Reduction in cognitive ability
A great way to know if you're getting enough sleep is to judge your energy levels throughout the day. If you feel sleepy consistently throughout the day, you're either sleeping for too long or too little. Remember 6-8 hours is all you need for the majority of the population.
A few ways you can get better sleep quality is through:
- Creating a consistent sleep schedule
- Creating the right sleep environment
- Sticking to an consistent workout regime
- Reducing your caffeine intake
You can read more about how your sleep can impact your productivity here.
Hopefully, you now have a greater understanding of what is needed to have a super productive study day. Once you're consistently able to implement these steps, you can increase your focus, lengthen your attention span and improve your memory; these benefits all lead to a more productive study day!