Many students wish that they could get more things done each day. They want to learn how to be more productive, and how to balance their studies and social life. As a student, you may find that there is always not enough time for you to do everything you wanted to do. You may feel that you have not enjoyed any “free time” for quite a while. You just don’t have much time for yourself after finishing your homework and assignments.
In terms of time, everyone has been dealt with the same set of cards. Each of us gets the same 24 hours a day, and seven days a week. Wished you had a few more hours each day? How about an extra day for the weekend, so that you can clear any outstanding tasks? That’s certainly a good idea. Unfortunately, the amount of time we get is not within our control.
Instead, there are ways to help us get more things done within the same time interval. How we spend our time directly affects our productivity. The broad idea is to do more things in the same amount of time that we all have each day. This leaves us with more time to do other stuff. For example, catching up with friends or picking up a new hobby.
In this article, we share several actionable ways to free up your time (other than multitasking). This enables you to boost your productivity and time management skills. With some consistent practice, you’ll find yourself completing more tasks at the end of each day. Put in that extra effort, and you’ll soon be an expert at getting things done efficiently.
How can students get more things done in a day?
Dedicate time for important things as part of your routine
Set aside some time each day for you to stay focused on what you are doing. It is part of building yourself a strong routine. Having a routine helps you to stay organised. By doing things in a systematic way, you’ll be able to finish things faster. For example, 8 pm to 9.30 pm every evening is set aside for finishing your homework. During this period, you should not be switching your attention to other activities. Every time you switch tasks, it takes a while before you get back to speed.
Take measures to get rid of potential distractions. An example is to leave your phone outside your room when you are studying. When you are deeply focused on a particular task, it is likely that you would complete it on time. And if you were to combine this with other tips, you would probably finish your work ahead of schedule. This leaves you with more time on the clock for other meaningful activities.
Focus on your task at hand and avoid multitasking
A large majority of people in the world (including students, adults and everyone else) are not good at multitasking. Working on two or more things at the same time can in fact reduce your overall productivity. The quality of your output decreases. You are more likely to make errors along the way. As a result, you may end up having to do everything all over again.
Students who try to multitask tend to make more careless mistakes in their homework. For subjects such as mathematics and science, students need to focus on the task at hand. Otherwise, they might find themselves spending more time redoing their work. So don’t try solving those problem sums while you are supposed to be enjoying your breakfast. Multitasking doesn’t actually help you to achieve more in the same amount of time.
Don’t dwell on trivial matters or unimportant decisions
Some decisions do not require us to put in a lot of thought. They are often the unimportant ones that do not result in serious consequences. For example, you are attending your friend’s birthday party later this evening. Spending 20 minutes to decide on what to wear to the party isn’t the most efficient. You do not need to spend so much time on this. Just pick something that looks okay, or something that has worked in the past. You could better spend the time to select a meaningful birthday present for your friend.
Going to different supermarkets to compare prices, just to save a few more cents? Not the best idea in terms of time management. If you are not buying something expensive, just make a decision and proceed with it. There is nothing wrong with buying cheap items on impulse. By reducing the number of unimportant decisions to make, you can free up some time from your busy schedule.
Make a to do list for the next day
Before going to bed, write down a to do list to help you get started with your next day. When you put things down on a list, you take it off your mind. And you don’t have to worry about forgetting something that you need to do. Perhaps this would allow you to sleep better, knowing that your schedule is well planned out for the next day.
It is always a good idea to prioritise tasks. You should aim to get the biggest and most important task out of the way, first thing in the morning. It is natural for us to get more tired as the day goes by. Leaving the most dreaded task to the end of the day would probably mean that you won’t be doing it. Likewise, finishing the biggest task early in the day makes you feel better and more productive. You’ll have the rest of the day to do other tasks that are easier than what you have already done.
Reduce your time spent on social media
Social media is one of the biggest time sinks for students these days. It consumes your limited attention span and gives you a lot of information you don’t need. There are always so many things that are going on in the lives of other people. It is impossible for us to keep up with everything that our friends have been up to. Social media is often regarded as more of a distraction than a productivity tool (unless you’re planning for a career in marketing).
That’s why it is important to limit the amount of time you spend on social media. In that way, you can free up more time to work on something meaningful. For a start, try disabling social media notifications and updates on your phone. You can also use the Screen Time feature or Digital Wellbeing app to limit the time on social media apps. Once you are more seasoned, set aside a day or two each week and go on a digital detox.
Get enough quality sleep for better academic performance
Getting enough sleep every night keeps our body healthy and our brain alert. Sleep allows our brain to consolidate our thoughts at the end of the day. When we give ourselves enough time to rest and recharge, our body can prepare itself for a new day ahead. It helps to improve our concentration and attention span. Students who get the right amount of sleep are often the ones who perform better in school. They learn more effectively than their sleep-deprived counterparts.
Apart from having enough sleep, the quality of sleep is also important. Having a good sleep improves your memory and performance. Sleeping well also ensures that you do not get tired easily during the day. A sharp mind means that you are able to focus on your daily activities. The result is that you can get things done at a much faster speed and with higher accuracy.
Exercise regularly to keep your mind sharp
Apart from improving your health and fitness, exercising on a regular basis has many benefits. Taking part in physical activities can strengthen your cognitive functions, especially for students whose brains are still developing. A morning exercise session helps you to be more awake, as you breathe in the fresh air from your surroundings. This allows you to enjoy higher levels of productivity and start your day on a positive note.
In addition to your weekly physical education classes, make it a point to exercise regularly on your own. Go for a short jog around your neighbourhood. Hit the gym to lift some weights or work on your favourite machine. Take a refreshing swim on a hot and humid day. Gather some friends and play sports such as soccer or badminton. There are many different ways you can exercise to keep your mind sharp and alert.
Organise your working environment and handwritten notes
A cluttered workspace is distracting and can affect your productivity. When things are all over the place, you’ll find it more difficult to get things done. Your items disappear into the pile of unsorted papers. A coffee spill takes several minutes to clean up. You spend more time than necessary to get through your daily tasks. On the other hand, a well-organised workspace allows you to do things more efficiently.
Get rid of the mess and have a clean desk. Stay organised by filing your notes regularly. Arrange your notes by subject and topic, so you can start revising for the examinations at any time. From time to time, rewrite your handwritten notes in a clearer and more concise manner. It also helps to reinforce your understanding of concepts, making revision more stress-free. Finally, put everything back in its rightful place after use. This helps you to easily retrieve anything that you need.
Get familiar with your body clock
Every individual has a different body clock. Our brain performance varies throughout the day. Some of us are morning persons who prefer to wake up early. Others are night owls who prefer to do their work after sunset. Learn about your own body clock, and which part of the day your mind performs best. Spend those hours on the most productive tasks on your to do list. Leave the less important tasks for another time when your body feels the least productive.
You may need some time to experiment around. Try working on the same kind of tasks at different times of the day. Ask yourself these questions: How long does it take for you to get “into the zone”? Do you feel distracted or tired easily? Can you continue working on the same task at the same rate for an extended period of time? Also, it is important to note that a person’s body clock may change over the years, so make adjustments accordingly.
Get More Things Done by Taking Action Now
Students may feel that they do not have much control over their time. After all, school starts early in the day and there’s hardly enough time to begin with. But students should make the hours after school count. Increasing your productivity involves a lot of effort and commitment. Don’t forget that everyone has the same amount of time each day, but the output varies from person to person. It’s about how we make better use of our time. That’s why you should take immediate action, so that you can get more things done.