As a student, you can easily introduce efficiency into your daily life. There are many different ways in which we can boost our efficiency. At this age, it is a good idea to explore what works for you and what doesn’t. Furthermore, when you develop these habits to boost your productivity from a young age, they are more likely to stick.
Efficiency is also something you’ll need as you enter the working world – something which leads you towards success. So, wouldn’t it a perfect time to start becoming more efficient as early as you can? Let’s get you started straight away.
Here are 7 actionable changes which you can make to your daily habits, in order to boost your efficiency.
1. Find a study place that suits you
Everyone would have their ideal spot for studying or doing their homework. It could be alone at home, or together with a group of friends at the library. Some students prefer to study in silent locations, whereas others need that little bit of background buzz to get their creative juices flowing. Some students prefer to study on their own in solitude, while others are more productive when learning together as a group.
If you haven’t already done so, take some time to explore and experiment with the various studying places around Singapore. Find a suitable place where you can be the most productive, depending on your personal learning style.
Are you able to remain undistracted when there is noise? Do you need a place where there is plenty of light that shines on your books? Or do you need that warm cup of coffee beside you to keep you alert?
A change in environment from time to time can fuel your creativity. If you are tired of your usual studying spot, why not look for an unconventional study place near you? When you step into a fresh and unfamiliar environment, there is a good chance of gaining additional motivation and becoming more efficient.
2. Avoid multitasking and focus on the task at hand
Many students believe that they are good at multitasking. They try to work on two or more things at the same time, thinking that this would increase their productivity. But in actual fact, most of us are not good at handling multiple simultaneous tasks without compromising on quality.
When we multitask, we may actually be accomplishing less on the whole. Even if you are one of the lucky few who can truly multitask, there may be certain trade-offs in doing so. Not giving your full attention when working on a particular task may affect your performance in terms of speed and accuracy.
For example, solving mathematical problems requires a lot of focus and concentration. Careless mistakes are often made as a result of distraction, regardless of how minor it is. You may also take a longer time to complete your homework, and this could potentially affect your sleep schedule.
Therefore, it is always a good idea to focus on what we are doing, one thing at a time. Otherwise, we may end up spending more time and effort on fixing the low quality output. The next time you find yourself multitasking, resist the urge and stay focused on what you are working on.
3. Break down larger tasks into smaller ones
Have you ever experienced trying to get started on something, but finding yourself not taking the first step because you don’t know where exactly to begin? If so, you may be trying to deal with something too big or broad.
By breaking down large tasks into smaller and more specific chunks, it is easier for you to get started on something. Focus on the most important tasks first, or get the largest one out of the way. You will also be clearer on the outstanding tasks that need to be completed.
At homework.sg, we make use of this technique to ensure that our book production remains on schedule. Before we dive into working on a new title, we write down the various tasks that need to be achieved. Each task consists of specific steps that have to be taken, as well as a target deadline to work towards.
You get a sense of accomplishment every time you strike something off your to-do list. Take a few minutes to celebrate these little victories – make yourself a smoothie or something. And when you do so a few times in a day, you’ll be more confident in seeing things to completion. Small successes can add up quickly, and make you a more efficient person.
4. Keep track of where your time goes
Technology has made us busier than ever. We can pack more activities into our schedule and automate repetitive tasks. But at the same time, technology can quickly deplete our energy and time if we are not careful about it.
From browsing the internet to checking emails and social media, we can get our hands on instant information. We get prompt answers to questions which have popped up in our mind. We can connect with our friends without having to meet one another in person. However, too much time spent on technology and we’re effectively back to square one in terms of efficiency.
These days, technology can be used to track our daily habits. From how much sleep we are getting each night to the time spent on our daily commute, we have easy access to such information. Your device may already include a feature to tell you how much time you are spending on each app: the Digital Wellbeing app on Android or the Screen Time feature on iOS.
If you are spending too much time on a certain app, set yourself a time limit, and stick to the schedule. Let’s say, you give yourself 15 minutes per day for getting the latest updates on social media. At the end of the week, check whether you have achieved your target and adjust accordingly.
Instead of letting technology take control of your time, you should take advantage of it and regain control of your time.
5. Build habits and routines to automate repetitive processes
From making your bed every morning to sleeping at the same time every night, introducing habits to your life can make you more efficient. With a routine in place, you don’t have to consciously think of what to do next. You free up your mind, attention and energy for things that are more meaningful.
Place daily-use items such as your mobile phone and keys in a designated area, so that you can locate them easily. This saves you the frustration of “losing” these objects at home.
Pack your bag the night before, especially for those who always feel half-awake in the morning. You don’t want to be rushing to find a missing item that you need to take with you for the day. Instead, you could be enjoying a proper breakfast at the dining table instead of a grab-and-go.
Integrating habits and routines into your daily life can increase your efficiency, but requires some form of commitment to make it last. From time to time, it would be good to review your existing routines to see if they are useful. As your circumstances may change over time, don’t be afraid if you need to replace your habits with newer ones along the way.
6. Take advantage of energy bursts
You may sometimes find yourself being a little less productive than usual. But when you start to gain momentum, it is a good idea to keep things going. Take advantage of these energy bursts and accomplish more while you are “in the zone”. And when you eventually you run out of steam again, give yourself a break which you deserve.
There are many well-researched tools and strategies to help you maintain traction. For instance, the Pomodoro Technique helps you to remain focused on what you are doing in blocks of 25-minute. The Eisenhower Matrix helps you to prioritise your time for important and urgent tasks. You can even sow and grow digital trees in the Forest app by staying away from your phone while studying.
For those who find it difficult to maintain a productive streak, consider making it easier to continue from where you have left off. One technique which may sound counterintuitive is to end the day on an “incomplete” note. For example, when writing blog articles, it is easier to pick up from an incomplete sentence which we left off the previous day. You can resume crafting the remaining half of the sentence without re-reading the paragraph.
At times, you’ll just have to bite the bullet to get yourself going. When you don’t feel like doing your homework, you just need to sit at the study table. Pick up a pen and start doing something. And within the next few minutes, your brain would have switched mode before you know it.
7. Take care of your own well-being
Even with all these productivity techniques, tips and tricks, they would not be helpful if you do not take care of your own well-being. Effective people set aside some time to recharge, and take breaks when they need to. These people get distracted less easily. Having enough rest also helps you to remain more focused when you are studying.
Make sure that you are getting enough time for eating, exercising and sleeping. Maintain a healthy diet and eat regularly so that you have the energy to perform at your best. Regardless of how busy you are, you should take some time off your schedule to stay physically active and fit. Remember to get sufficient rest every night, based on the recommended hours of sleep for your age group.
It is important for you to manage your energy levels well. If you are tired and cannot think, the remaining hours in the day are as good as unproductive. That’s why some people choose to spend the first few hours of their day on the most complex tasks. They leave other tasks to the end of the day when they are feeling less energetic.