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5 Tips To Boost Your Productivity

By Mahnoor (Undergraduate Content Creator, Business and Marketing BA)

Finding yourself stressed and anxious about the upcoming deadline, but also feeling too unproductive to do anything? Well, you’re not alone. We all experience the unpleasant feeling of starting our day off with the best intentions and a high drive to get things done, but ending it feeling frustrated with how many tasks are still left unchecked on our ever-growing to-do lists. If you feel the same way, here are five tips to help you overcome your unproductivity.

1. Hack Time Management Through Pomodoro

You probably already know from the last time you procrastinated on a paper, only to write the whole thing in one glorious, Red Bull fuelled all-nighter, that time is a precious motivating factor. We often feel like we have endless time in a work day to get things done and then ultimately spend that time focusing on distractions, leading to an unproductive day. With the Pomodoro technique, you can allow yourself to work with no distractions for 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute break. The idea behind it is that the timer instils a sense of urgency, allowing you to pay full attention to the task at hand. Many swear by this technique, so if you find yourself having an unproductive day, just put on a 25-minute timer and try the Pomodoro method. If you wish to make the Pomodoro technique a part of your everyday life, consider getting apps like Focus Keeper (for iOS users) and Focus To-do (for android users).

2. Shower! (Seriously.)

In a 2015 Reddit post asking the question, “What daily habit do you believe has the largest positive impact on your life?” Elon Musk famously replied, “Showering.” Though this may be a confusing answer to many, the truth is that when you take your personal appearance more seriously, you take your work more seriously as well. When you wake up in the morning and shower immediately, and wear clothes that make you feel confident, you're more likely to have a productive day (even if you're working from home where nobody can see you). Many successful people are self-aware very early on in their lives that they have to rely on their own self-discipline and willpower instead of the few external structures they have in life. Those two traits are influenced by your personal appearance, hygiene, and environmental cleanliness. So, in order to have a productive day, shower and put on clothes that make you feel good, even if the only place you’re headed to is the library. 

3. Have a Growth Mindset.

Often unproductivity is simply a manifestation of giving up on a task because you feel like you’re not capable of delivering the end result. This type of thinking can get you stuck in a rut and cause stagnation. If that is the reason for your unproductivity, practice having a growth mindset. A growth-minded person believes that they can learn anything as long as they're willing to put enough effort into it. If they fail, they get back up and try again, this time with new knowledge about what not to do. At the end of the day, as humans our potential is only limited by our willingness to work hard and keep trying new approaches until something works. With a growth-oriented mindset, you can make progress on your task, and even if it is small and only 1% a day... it adds up! Whether it’s a paper you’re writing, a skill you’re learning, or simply going to the gym regularly… as cliché as it sounds, believing in yourself can help you overcome an unproductivity rut.


4. Set Your Priorities Straight.

Being overwhelmed is a fairly common reason we choose to be unproductive – there is simply too much to do. If you have to finish two papers, do the laundry, cook a meal, reply to emails, go to the gym, and call a friend, all while balancing work-related tasks, you’re likely to feel too overwhelmed to do anything. If that is the case, it helps to prioritize the tasks by listing 4-5 tasks that would make the most significant contribution. Part of being productive is also realizing that if sometimes there is too much to do, you have to simply accept that there are certain things you will not be able to do. Instead of getting overwhelmed and ending up doing nothing, simply prioritize and let go of what you cannot do at the moment. With that being said, it is important that compromises aren’t made on health. If you’re feeling too overwhelmed and unproductive, start by feeding yourself a nice meal, taking a power nap, or doing a 20-minute workout, and see your day transform!

5. Start Your Day with a Low Dopamine Activity

A study from IDC indicates that 80% of smartphone users check their phones within the first 15 minutes of waking up. If you are also one of that 80%, then you are starting off your day with a high dopamine activity. Scrolling through social media first thing in the morning releases dopamine, a reward chemical in your brain. Studies have shown that this increased level of dopamine creates an environment where other tasks are likely to bore us, thereby making us resort to our phones throughout the day to get a boost of dopamine. This ultimately leads to unproductivity and hours of mindless social media scrolling. To combat this, start your day off with low to high dopamine activities. When you wake up in the morning, simply take a deep breath, make your bed, do some simple stretching, and take a shower. This slowly takes your brain from low to high dopamine stages, allowing you to not entirely depend on your smartphone. Ultimately, it leads to a productive day where you are less likely to constantly reach for your phone.

Unproductivity can make us feel isolated at times, but it is important and encouraging to know that we’re not the only ones on the battlefield. If you’re going through an unproductivity rut, remember that this too shall pass and that you’re not alone. If you feel like you need additional support, check out the Student Support resources.

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