Tricks to help you with productivity, time management and positivity during our second online semester.
Let’s face it, staying motivated during the spring semester is more difficult than staying motivated in the fall. A three-week winter break is simply not enough, and getting back into the groove of school for spring semester is a bit more difficult.
If you find yourself lacking motivation or procrastinating, here are some tips to help you manage your time to stay productive, motivated and positive throughout this online semester.
- Plan, plan, plan
I have a physical to-do list and planner on my desk that I keep updated at all times. Having my to-dos right in front of me each day keeps me on track and helps me remember what assignments and activities are coming up.
If you do not use a physical planner or to-do list, I recommend using one to keep yourself up to date on upcoming assignments and due dates. The likelihood that you will retain this information increases when you write it down.
“Your memory of handwritten words is tied to the movements required to make each letter. This might be what helps the memory of what we’ve written hang around in our brains a bit longer,” says Elyse Hauser in an article from Life Savvy.
- Create a positive workspace
A designated workspace is crucial now that we are attending school from home. For many of us, home has become the place we work, so it’s important that we assign ourselves specific spots for getting work done to, “create a mental boundary between ‘work’ and ‘play,’” according to an article by Herzing University.
Creating workspaces for ourselves, whether a desk in your room or a spot at your kitchen table, is an easy and effective way to help your brain distinguish between when it’s time to work and time to play which boosts productivity. If you would like to read more about this topic, check out this article.
- Leave the phone behind
Many of us — if not all of us — have been distracted by our phones at one point or another. At times we use our phones as a deliberate means of procrastination, other times our lack of self-control gets the better of us.
My solution is to ditch your phone entirely, or take advantage of the “do not disturb” feature. I recommend doing the same on your computer if incoming messages and emails cause you to lose focus.
“One of the best ways to ensure productivity is to strategize an environment conducive to uninterrupted concentration,” according to Psychology Today. The constant picking up and putting down of your phone results in an interruption of workflow, leaving you less productive and more distracted.
- Try the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique “asks you to alternate pomodoros – focused work sessions – with frequent short breaks to promote sustained concentration and stave off mental fatigue,” according to Todoist.
These focused work sessions last for 25 minutes and end with a 5 minute break afterward. After this cycle is completed four times, you are rewarded with a 15 to 30 minute break.
This method is ideal if you have longer, more open-ended work, such as studying for an upcoming test or writing a 10-page paper. By implementing the Pomodoro Technique, your large, overwhelming assignments get broken up into smaller, manageable chunks.
When you have a million things on your to-do list, it can be hard to know where to start. A simple way to overcome this is prioritizing assignments.
When I prioritize, I typically check which assignments are due soon and go from there. I also take into account the amount of time a project or assignment will take.
Once I have figured out which assignments require the most attention, I write them down in order on my to-do list. If a big project is high on your list of priorities, I recommend writing a time limit next to the assignment so you don’t spend too much time on one task.
- Change your mindset
How do you view your education? Do you dread going to class? Does homework sound exhausting?
We’ve all been there. Many of us are there right now. School is hard, and many of us feel like we can’t catch a break. This is where a positive mindset can help.
Changing your mindset is by no means a simple task, but the effort is worth the reward. My suggestion is to start small. Start with turning one negative thought into a positive one and see how your day improves.
It sounds a bit cheesy, but this kind of thinking can broaden your perspective and allow you to see more possibilities in your life.
Negative thinking, on the other hand, causes you to fixate on your negative emotions and can, “prevent your brain from seeing the other options and choices that surround you,” according to James Clear, author of the New York Times bestseller “Atomic Habits.”
- Zoom out
Oftentimes, we stress about little things that won’t matter in a few weeks. When you catch yourself getting hung up on something, ask yourself, “Will this matter tomorrow? Next week? Next month?” Looking at the bigger picture helps us see that not everything is a disaster.
Rob Wormley from the When I Work Blog states, “Short-term situations tend to be heavy on the emotion. Making decisions or taking action based on that is not only a bad idea, but tends to feed negative attitudes. Viewing things in the long-term, on the other hand, make the challenges of the now seem much less terrible because the bigger picture reveals an exciting outcome.”
When your assignments and other responsibilities start to pile up, try taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture. The positive outcome will surprise you.
If this second semester on Zoom still has you feeling down, I have good news — we’re already one third of the way through! You’ve got this.