Written by Tanishk Gambhir, Master Tutor for Enhanced Prep
Nearly all students in the U.S. and many abroad find themselves at home much more frequently these days. As a result, the stability of routine, which for students often involves different places, schedules, and obligations, has diminished. For some, it has vanished entirely.
The days might seem to blend into one another. Friday might feel like a Tuesday. Even the distinction between weekday and weekend might seem to fade.
The routine of everyday life can provide consistent efficiency under “normal” circumstances. It can be the basis for productivity, especially when it comes to academics. Yet with the current at-home paradigm, many students might find it difficult to stay motivated and productive. Here are our tips for addressing this.
A winning morning routine can foreshadow a great day. Do not wake up late on a weekday (or even weekend) only to binge watch your favorite Netflix series!
Set aside your early hours for taking care of the things most important to you, and make this time a priority. The morning is a great time, for example, for starting crucial assignments, sending emails, and creating a plan for long-term projects.
However, many individuals are not morning people, so feel free to take care of something else that is equally as important: yourself. Complete that virtual workout class or do some stretching. Begin your day with a meditation practice, some doodling, or a healthy breakfast. When you feel good, you are more likely to be productive (and feel good about that, too).
If you want to be productive, you have to sleep. This might seem obvious, but in a world where many people now do not have to wake up as early as usual for work or school, people are still not getting enough sleep! Isolation may also promote feelings of fatigue and apathy.
However, to be productive, you have to get enough quality sleep. The key words here are enough and quality.
This doesn’t mean that you should take a three-hour nap after sleeping in until noon, even if you feel exhausted. Aim to get in at least eight hours of consistent sleep during the night hours, and, if you need to, indulge in power naps, 20-30 minute rests that are more likely to leave you feeling refreshed.
Prioritize quality sleep, too. Quality sleep is deep, restful, and as unbroken as possible. If you’re having trouble with getting quality sleep, try stepping away from screens at least 2 hours before bedtime, taking shorter naps, establishing a ‘sleep routine,’ and exercising earlier in the day (as opposed to later). Some students also have success with natural sleep supplements, such as magnesium or melatonin, but consult a practitioner prior to use.
3. Group Work
Surprisingly enough, challenging work may not seem as bad when there is someone else suffering right there with you. Group work is still possible during stay at home orders!
FaceTime a friend as you both work on the same assignment to hold yourselves accountable and bring in an element of fun. Having someone there to ensure that you do not slack off can make a long assignment that much easier to accomplish. You might even learn more in the process.
However, keep in mind that with great Internet connection comes great responsibility. Make sure that your group sessions are actually working for your productivity, not against it. If you find yourself chatting it up with your friends while working, hop off the Zoom session or group call to complete the assignment with greater focus. You can always catch up with friends when you are free. In fact, such catch-up calls can serve as rewards for completing portions of an assignment.
4. Your space
For those at home alongside many family members, some peace and quiet can be hard to come by. Set up a quiet space where you can get your most important work done. If the word silence is not in your family’s dictionary, talk to them about the situation and find agreed upon times where they will limit their noise so that you can maximize your productivity.
That being said, remember to also find time to prioritize different kinds of productivity, including relaxation. Reset your sleep schedule or pursue the hobbies that have always interested you. Now is the time to check things off your list and to take part in activities that inspire and rejuvenate you.
Being productive should not be a full-time job–balance it alongside your leisure time, which is just as vital.