Tag Archives: productivity

5 Tips to Stay Productive During Holidays and Breaks

a girl in a scarf with a cup of coffee

Every student looks forward to taking it easy during the holiday break. After a fast-paced and challenging semester, it is always nice to have some time off to relax, spend time with family and friends, and not worry about the next test or assignment due. However, while school breaks don’t need to be work-intensive, you should still try to accomplish some things while you are away from your studies. After all, as soon as the break is over, you’ll be heading back to school, and you definitely want to be ready for that. Here are 5 great tips to help you stay productive during holidays and breaks.

Have a Holiday Break Plan

While it is nice to get away from the rigors of an academic schedule, you should still make a plan for how you’ll spend your break; otherwise, the time will pass quickly, and you’ll have missed opportunities. Prior to starting your break, look at a calendar and plot out how you’ll use the time. While you’ll want to have blank space on your schedule to simply rest and relax, you should also make sure that you allocate time to get together with friends and family; if you need to do any studying over the holiday, you should mark that on your calendar as well. Overall, having a holiday break plan will help you stay productive and get the most out of your holiday break time as well.

Stick to a Schedule

Don’t pick up any bad time management or sleep schedule habits while you’re away on your holiday break. If you party late into the night and sleep into the early afternoon every single day during your break, you’re going to be in for a big shock when you return to school.  Instead, stick to a more moderate schedule over the holiday where you might stay up a bit later, but still, get up at a reasonable time each morning. You should also try to eat your meals at normal times as well. Following a reasonable schedule during the break will allow you to have fun over the holidays, but still make it relatively easy to snap back into your school schedule when the break ends. Of course, if you face troubles when going back to classes after a long break, you can always get help from a professional team.

Make a Task List

One of the best ways to stay productive during holidays and breaks is to plan to accomplish things with the extra time you have.  Make a list of the things you need to get done, or that you would like to do over the holiday break. Your tasks could include mundane things, such as mailing a tuition payment or getting the oil changed in your car. It could also include fun events you’d like to do, such as go to a museum, or personal challenges to accomplish, like a 10K road race. Keep your written task list with you and mark off each task as it is accomplished. Doing so will help you stay more productive during your break, so you make the most of your time off.

Don’t Let Your Brain Rust

While you want to enjoy some much-needed time off during your break, you should also try to keep your mind sharp. Otherwise, you’ll be in for a bit of a shock when your classes start up again.  Here are a few activities you should consider to keep your mental edge over the holiday break:

  • Watch documentaries and educational shows
  • Read articles, books, or scholarly journals related to your course of study
  • Attempt to learn a new skill
  • Visit local museums, art galleries, or go see a play
  • Maintain your writing skills – keep a journal, try various writing exercises or write real letters to friends or family
  • Take a short online course in a topic that interests you
  • Solve the daily newspaper crossword puzzle
  • Pick up a hobby, such as knitting, gardening, jigsaw puzzles,

While this is by no means an all-inclusive list, any of these activities are fun to do and could help you keep your mind sharp during the holiday break. Consider trying one of them, or some other activity, so your mind stays active and engaged while you’re away from your studies; you’ll be thankful you did when your classes start up again. Also, check out some useful tips on how you can improve your writing skills.

Stay in Shape

Don’t turn into a couch potato over your holiday break, or you’ll be in for a rude awakening when you head back to school. If you’re an athlete, failing to work out and stay in shape over break could cost you a starting position on a team. Even if you don’t participate in sports, you don’t want to be out of shape and tired as you start the new semester. Take the time to exercise on a regular basis while you are home on break. Additionally, try not to overindulge at big family or holiday meals either. Putting a little effort in to work out and stay in shape will help you feel better and enjoy your holiday break even more; you’ll also be more prepared to head back to school and tackle your classes when the break comes to an end.

You can have fun, relax and enjoy your holiday break, and still remain productive. Just consider all of the tips offered here; if you do, you’ll have a terrific holiday break and be better prepared to start your next semester as well.

How to Spend Less Time on Homework

a girl is checking her wrist watchWe all know how hard it is to manage your homework and your social life at the same time. Sometimes you can’t help thinking about the things that you would prefer doing rather than sitting with an unfinished essay in front of you. So, is it possible to spend less time doing your homework? We believe it is. This post will tell you about the most efficient tactics that you should use to be more productive while doing your homework.

1. Stay Focused

When talking about productivity, it’s hard not to mention how staying focused is essential. Having too many thoughts and things that distract while doing your homework is a surefire way to increase the amount of time you spend on your tasks.

Analyze your usual study routine. What is it usually like? You probably sit with your TV, music, or YouTube on and try to do your homework. That is too much information for your brain to process. As a result, you retain information way worse than you could without such noise in the background and have to spend more time dealing with your assignments.

If you try focusing on your homework without texting people or watching entertaining videos, you might notice that you don’t need as much time to finish your work.

You can try a method that usually works for people who tend to get bored, concentrating on one task quickly:

  1. Decide what task you are going to work on.
  2. Set the timer for 20 or 25 minutes.
  3. Concentrate on the chosen task until the alarm goes off.
  4. Take a five-minute break.
  5. Repeat all the steps.

You can alternate tasks if you have a few of them to be able to work on each of them with fresh eyes. For example, if you have to complete an essay and finish your science project, try working on the essay for 20 minutes, taking a quick break, and then working on your science project.

2. Take Notes in Class

Taking notes is essential for every student. They help to retain information and build a study system that will suit your needs and your learning type. But have you ever thought about the way you take notes in class?

There are a few note-taking systems that are widespread among students. Here are some of them:

  • The Outline Method. This is one of the most common methods for taking notes. It implies using bullet points and subtopics that help to structure information into subcategories.
  • The Cornell Method. The main difference of this method is the page layout: the page is divided into two columns or blocks with the small column used to write down questions, comments, etc., while all the notes go into the large column.
  • The Charting Method. When this method is applied, the notes are written down into a table with separate columns with separate categories that are relevant for the topic.

Your note-taking method can be a game-changer for you. If you find a method that works for you the best, you will notice how the effectiveness of your home study sessions grows.

Basically, all you need to do is to try different page layouts and find out which method works for you the best. It will be easier if you know your learning style. There are many different styles of learning, including auditory, visual, and kinesthetic.

Developing a system that is the most convenient for you will make studying information much more effective and will allow you to structure the data without losing critical aspects.

3. Set the Timer

It is known that strict deadlines make people work faster. If you want to spend less time on your homework, you might need some motivation to stop procrastinating and get back to work. That is when setting a deadline can come in handy.

Decide how much time you objectively need to complete the task and set the timer. You can even reward yourself if you are on time to stay motivated while on your breaks (and breaks are essential).

For example, you have a one-page essay that you know you can finish in two hours with time for proofreading and editing included. Set the timer for two and a half hours to have a few breaks through the working process. Be strict and do your best to finish the work on time.

After a few times of trying this method, you will notice that you procrastinate less and finish your homework faster.

4. Don’t Put Homework Aside

Every student knows that putting the homework off until the last moment isn’t a healthy habit. However, most students do so no matter what the consequences (like sleepless nights and low grades) might be.

Try managing your homework piece by piece. Divide the massive assignments into smaller pieces and do them one by one, day by day. For example, if you need to complete a 3000-word research paper, you can start slowly by completing a paragraph a day. It won’t take much time and will make the task much easier. If you can’t help missing your deadlines, turn to a professional service that will help you manage all of your assignments when it is needed.

Remember that it is always hard to start. But once you do, the rest will be much easier to deal with. Don’t procrastinate!

College Writing Prompts: 7 Hacks to Boost Your Productivity

college writing prompts

Whether you’re working on your mid-term paper or just a regular essay, writing can be a difficult job. Creativity doesn’t always flow when it should and plenty of writers sit down with every good intention, only to find themselves an hour later having accomplished nothing aside from trolling around online, playing games or suddenly feeling the need to reorganize their entire office. Although writing can be a daunting task, these 7 college writing prompts will help you get your creative juices flowing and get you on track to producing better papers without sweating the deadline.

Go Old School

When you’re stuck with that blinking cursor on your screen, it may be time to switch back to old school pen and paper. Several studies suggest that writing by hands helps to boost comprehension and improves the ability of writers to develop ideas. Many authors – including the likes of Truman Capote and Susan Sontag – have gone on record with their preference for writing in longhand and science has found there’s a reason why. One study out of the University of Washington had two groups of elementary students write an essay. The group writing by hand completed their essays more quickly and used more complete sentences than their keyboard using counterparts. Additional studies have found that writing by hand can:

  • prevent writers from being distracted
  • improve the flow of ideas for outlining
  • actively engage more areas of the brain, including motor skills and memory

Break Free From the Internet

When it comes to potential distractions, the internet reigns supreme. While having the internet on hand for on the fly research can be useful, it also proves too tempting for many people who find themselves distracted by incoming emails, instant messages, news feed updates and other routine distractions. Even a simple mission to do pure research can easily lead to skipping from one article to another, then another, then another, resulting in information overload. The best way to cut the habit even if your willpower is the size of a gnat? Applications that prevent you from hopping online. The problem of internet based distractions is common and there are several applications that can come to your rescue.

Anti-Social – If you find yourself scrolling through FaceBook, YouTube, Hulu, Twitter or any other social based website, Anti-Social is the answer you’ve been looking for. The program blocks any set of websites you determine and keeps you from logging onto them for a set amount of time.

Stay Focused – This addon for Google’s Chrome browser offers users the same option – name the websites you want to have off limits and set a timer.

Self Control – This open source program was originally programmed only for Mac OS systems, but has since been coded for both Linux and Windows users. It can be used to block websites, email or to keep you off the internet completely.

The Three B’s of Creativity

German psychologist Wolfgang Köhler originally wrote about the “Bed, Bath, Bus” phenomena in terms of its relationship with creativity. Inspiration tends to strike at the most unlikely times, but understanding why this happens can help you set the stage to get those ideas flowing. Scientists, researchers and writers who should be finishing their work have come up with several reasons why inspiration tends to hit during the most impractical moments. First, these activities tend to require little, if any, actual brain power, leaving your mind free to wander. These activities also make us very relaxed which increases the release of dopamine in our brains and throughout our nervous system.

Dopamine is responsible for just about every happy emotion you can imagine – including creativity. While the 3 B’s have become the standard list for helping to boost creativity, the truth is that any mindless but relaxing task can produce the same effect. When you’re stumped on where to go with a piece of writing take a walk, do the dishes, go for a run or head to the store to do some grocery shopping. The trick is to be sure you keep a pen and paper on you or use the voice notes function on your smartphone to capture those ideas when they hit.

Write About What You REALLY Want to Write About

Sometimes, no matter how good your intentions, all you really want to write about is the time you got beer drunk at your cousin’s wedding and professed your undying love to the bartender. If your brain is stuck on a particular theme, scene or story, just get it out. Writing about whatever has your mind so preoccupied will help to clear the slate and get the ball rolling. Just because you write it doesn’t mean you have to show it to anyone and the process of simply getting it down on paper (or screen) can get your creative juices flowing as well as giving your brain a chance to stretch, so to speak.

Break Out the Right Music

The effects of music has become one of the more popular areas of research in recent years. This is due, in part, to how portable music has become. Many people now carry entire libraries of music with them and can, at any time, call up favorite albums or playlists with the simple swipe of a finger. Researchers have found that music has a direct impact on our brains and have broken it down to music that is over 60 beats per minute (BPM) and that which is under that threshold. As you might imagine, the higher the beat the more energizing the effects. High energy techno, dance music and hard rock all quicken the heart rate, breathing and can even increase blood pressure. Slower music produces a calming effect and can reduce stress and alleviate anxiety. Mix up your favorite music to keep yourself going – keep up the beat, keep up the work!

Time Yourself

Tim management skills are sometimes seen as only useful for those in the corporate world but the truth is most people could do with some help when it comes to prioritizing and getting things done. There are a number of ways to go about this and one of the most popular is the Ten Minute Blitz. Simply set a timer for 10 minutes and focus on getting one task done. Ten minutes may not seem like much, but you’ll probably be surprised at just how much you can get accomplished. For more involved tasks, such as research or writing, many people prefer the Pomodoro Technique, which sets up time in 25 minute intervals, with a 5 to 10 rest period between cycles. The cycle is repeated four times in a row, with a longer break (15-30 minutes) after the fourth round of focused, 25 minute work. This can be done easily by using a kitchen timer or you can use applications such as Time Out to track how long you’ve worked and build in automatic reminders to take a break in order to keep your mind sharp and avoid burn out.

Burn that midnight oil. Getting up early is one of the best ways to stay ahead of the game and increase the chances of you getting into the flow of essay writing.