15 Helpful, No-Fluff Productivity Tips For College Students

//Wake Up Earlier

The early bird catches the worm, right? College students are notorious for staying up late. It just seems like a given. Especially if you have later classes. I’m not telling you to wake up at 5 AM every day (I certainly don’t). Start by waking up an hour before you need to and go from there. For example, if you have an 11 AM class, wake up at 8:30. You can go to bed at around 1 AM, get enough sleep, and still have enough time to do something productive in the morning before class.

//Use A Planner

I am guilty of not following this tip. At the beginning of the school year, I’m incredibly on top of my planner, but slowly stop using it. This affects my productivity and my sanity because I forget to do things sometimes. This shows in your grades. A planner will also help you manage your time wisely. There’s a reason this tip is in every productivity book and blog post you read.

//Get Dressed And Feel Put Together

I could write a whole post on the importance of getting dressed. (In fact, I probably will!) Looking good is not the goal. Sure, that’s a great way to feel confident, but being well-dressed and put together will help you get more done. Personally, I don’t get as much work done when I’m wearing my pajamas because that gets me in a mindset where I want to lounge around and do nothing. That’s why I get dressed every day. When I look like I’m ready to do something productive, I do something productive.

The same goes for working out. A lot of people feel motivated to exercise when they’re wearing workout clothing. Getting dressed sometimes gives you the push you need to get stuff done.

//Set Daily, Weekly, And Monthly Goals

You don’t necessarily need to do all of them. If you’ve been here a while, you know that I used to post my monthly goals on this site. I stopped because it stopped being productive for me. As a college student, my routine was broken up by weeks, so making weekly goals made more sense. I’d set goals for studying, my blog, and everything else weekly. This process may be different for other people. For people who own businesses, it would make more sense to set quarterly goals rather than weekly goals because that’s how their projects naturally line up. Choose what works for you, but make sure that you are always setting goals.

//Make An Assignment List Based On Your Syllabus

At the beginning of the semester, create a long list in chronological order of all the dates your professor gave you. Throughout the semester, cross things off as you go. This way, you’ll know exactly what is due the soonest and what takes priority.

Here's an example:

August 28, 2017
    - Algebra: Pg.5-12
    - Econ: Chapter 2
    - Spanish: Capitulo 2
August 29, 2017
    - English: Book Report 1 Due 
    - Chem: Lab Report due

Create something like that listing all your assignments for the semester. Color coding wouldn’t hurt.

//Don’t Listen To Music While You Work

I know. I know. You’re one of those people that can multitask and “work well with music,” but I’m here to tell you a secret. You’ll work faster without it. Music is fine when you are doing things like folding laundry or cleaning your room because you’re doing it passively. Your brain doesn’t need to focus that much. But when you’re writing an essay or studying, the music will distract you. Even if you can study well with music on, it doesn’t mean you’re studying efficiently. I used to be one of those people who would leave music on in the background, but ever since I stopped, I get work done SO much faster. (All caps doesn’t do this lesson justice). Don’t listen to music when you work!

However, I do need some ambient noise when I work. I live in a house (with incredibly thin walls) with six other people after all. I usually just turn on the fan in my room and put a towel over it so it doesn’t get cold (it also makes it louder). You could also use a white noise machine. You’ll end up finishing your work much faster and you can use that extra time to do other things you enjoy.

//Clean Your Room

Having a messy workspace is distracting and it certainly doesn’t motivate you to get things done. There’s a reason I never get anything done in my room. Many people, like me, get significantly more work done at the library or at Starbucks. This is because those places are generally tidy. Unfortunately, we can’t work outside all the time. We have to make it work at home, too.

Before I can get any work done on my desk, I have to make my bed. Even if all else is messy, making my bed makes me feel like I have my life together. Sometimes I fold the clothes piled up on my chair as well, so I can actually sit at my desk. This means there are less distractions for me and I can get to work.

//Only Check Your Email And Social Media Twice A Day

I’ve gotten really good at this, recently. Another way you could do this is by only checking social media in the bathroom. I’m sure you do this anyway, so you might as well make it your designated social media time. That way, you won’t waste as much time on your phone when you should be studying.

//Work Out

During midterms and finals, the gym is significantly more empty. During this time, I heard one of the trainers say,

“So many students don’t come to the gym during midterms because they “don’t have time.” Working out makes your day more productive. Not less.”

And I have to admit that I agree. During the school year, I work out 4-5 days a week. This isn’t because I’m a health nut (far from one actually). I just feel so much more energized  after I work out and crossing that item off my to-do list motivates me to be more productive. Moving your body is also an important part of self-care, so don’t avoid it.

Related – A Practical Guide To Working Out Regularly In College

//Carve Out Time In Your Schedule To Relax

You can’t work productively without taking breaks. Studying for 8 hours straight is not the answer. Studying for 2 hours, then taking a 30 minute break is. Make sure there are moments in your day you can relax like reading on the train or watching Netflix while you eat lunch. Taking a break never hurt anyone.

Related – How To Take Intentional Breaks In College

//Organize Your Desk And Your Desktop

My desk tends to be pretty clean. I just have a framed photo and a pencil holder. Other than that, my desk is clear. (The bulletin board in front of it is where my decorations live.) My desktop, on the other hand, is a mess. It’s an organized mess, but a mess. I recently cleaned up my desktop, and oh my lord, it’s beautiful. It’s much more relaxing than seeing a bunch of blog post images, old essays, and other random icons. Cleaning up my desktop has given me peace of mind and makes working on my computer so much more productive.

//Work At Your Desk

Whenever I work on my bed (which is something I do more than I’d like to admit), I end up surfing through Pinterest, reading blogs, and watching Netflix. This is because I associate my bed with relaxing. Don’t get me wrong, I do get work done on my bed, but I could get the same amount of work done faster if I worked at my desk. This is because I’m sitting in a chair instead of lying around waiting for dinner time. Sit at your desk and stay there. Keep snacks and a bottle of water with you so you’re not tempted to get up and get to work. I can work for an hour straight on my desk, while I take frequent breaks when I work on my bed. It just makes more sense to study at my desk.

//Work Outside Your Work space Sometimes

Don’t work at Starbucks everyday because you’ll waste more money than necessary, but as I’ve mentioned before, people tend to work more productively in places that aren’t their homes. You’ve heard me say this before: I try to get all my work done on campus because I’m a lot more focused there than at home. I’ve gotten a good chunk of my blog work done at my local library this summer because I write much faster while I’m here. (I take more breaks at home). A change of scenery is always a good idea in my book. Moving your work space to your dining table works, too.

//Pay Attention In Class

This way, you won’t need to study as much at home. Just hear me out, you’re paying for these classes anyway, so don’t skip them and don’t waste your time. You’ll be a lot more prepared for the test if you sit and listen to your professors’ lectures. This way, you won’t have to waste your time scouring textbooks looking for important information. Your teacher will have already given it to you! I get that some professors aren’t great at teaching, but they’ll give you important information in regard to your tests. Don’t waste that opportunity.

//Know Your Natural Rhythm

I don’t get as much work done first thing in the mornings. When I first wake up, I’m not in the mood to do homework and study. My brain isn’t ready yet. I need an hour or two to get the gears going (which is why waking up earlier gives me more time to do that). My energy is better served in making my bed or working out. I get significantly more work done in the afternoons, then hit a slump in the evenings. I know my natural rhythms. I understand when I’m most productive and when to do the right things. My rhythms probably aren’t the same as yours, and that’s okay. Just make sure that you schedule things around your natural rhythms.

Your natural rhythms can change, so update your routine to accommodate that.

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