After years of tutoring students ranging from musicians, to actors, to influencers, one thing that became mandatory was figuring out ways to be efficient with learning and school work, especially around such crazy schedules.
Productivity has become my superpower!
Here are my Top 5 Productivity Hacks - for students and adults!
(1) Lists – Personal + Work (it’s important to separate)
The first point in this is making lists, period. We all know the importance of being able to visualize our tasks, but sometimes the thought of writing it all down and remembering everything we need to do can be overwhelming in itself. That’s ok. The lists aren’t written in stone. We can edit and change as we go. Keep a designated list-maker, whether you prefer digital (on your phone) or old school/analog (notebook). I like keeping a designated task notebook (that I take everywhere) for all the “to-do’s” so you can update and amend throughout the day.
The second, and often overlooked, part of list-making is being sure to separate your “work” tasks from “personal” tasks. This is as much about clearing the clutter in your mind as a human being as it is about efficiency and productivity. School and work tasks / to-do’s don’t define who we are. They’re just a part of what we do. So keep your personal tasks and work tasks in separate lists so that you can clearly delineate between the obligations in your life. You will be able to dictate what takes precedent; not the other way around!
(2) Easy Access
Put your lists in an easily accessible and visible area like a whiteboard, on the wall, or a notebook that you’ll have on you throughout the day. One of the biggest barriers to productivity is trying to remember or keep track of too much. Get it down in writing and keep it moving so you can focus on executing as opposed to the actual list-making process. Another tip is to add long-term goals to your lists so the big picture is in view. It’s important to see the forest through the trees to make sure that each daily task is ultimately adding up to the bigger vision and keeping you on track to get there.
(3) Time-to-Task Budget Ratio
Often, we focus on trying to figure out how much time each task will take and then try to squeeze the tasks into our schedule without thinking about how much time we actually have to dedicate to them. Flip this concept on its head. Determine how much time you have in your schedule to dedicate to the things you need to do FIRST. And be realistic. It’s ok to be honest with ourselves about our busy lives. The whole point of prioritizing productivity is to be effective, not to get down on ourselves about being busy. If you only have an hour between classes or meetings or errands, knock out the easier tasks first. Crossing those off your list is still a step forward and gets you that much closer to the bigger picture.
(4) Keep it Positive!
Self-talk in the context of productivity is very, very real! Avoid focusing on how much you don’t want to do something. Whether it’s that math homework, the pitch deck, or the difficult email you need to write to a classmate or colleague, nothing is as challenging as it seems. Take small steps towards it, and it’ll be done sooner than you think. As humans, we tend to naturally gravitate towards procrastinating. And by focusing on how much we don’t want to do something, we give it unnecessary power. It becomes daunting which then makes us procrastinate even more. Trust me, it can be a vicious cycle. So keep it light! Keep it positive! Even something as simple as the language you use with yourself – saying “I get to finish this assignment” vs. “I have to finish this assignment” completely reframes the way you’ll think about productivity. Sound silly? Maybe. Does it work? YEP! Give it a try.
(5) Personal Time
Make time for personal time! Personal time actually contributes to overall and long-term productivity and happiness. It’s SUPER important to be and stay balanced to avoid exhaustion, over work, and burnout. If you need to work out, meditate, drink coffee in the morning before starting your day, allow time for it so you don’t stress about it later. The most important thing about scheduling in personal time is being honest with yourself about it. We certainly need it to stay healthy. There’s no doubt about that. But be transparent with yourself about the time you spend on it. Is this personal time contributing to your overall goals and well-being or are we using it as an excuse to procrastinate? Be your own personal productivity coach. If you would recommend doing something to a best friend, then it probably means you need it too.