How to Increase Productivity: 3 Tips to Take Back the School Year

BY RHAYNA KRAMER

You sit down to write that 10-page paper that’s due tomorrow. You take comfort in the MLA heading you just typed out, which takes up a good third of the page. Progress, right? You go to start your essay–but wait! You forgot to fill up your water bottle. Gotta stay hydrated!

You return to your workspace, write a sentence or two and–your favorite YouTuber just uploaded a new video! It’s only three minutes long. You’ll hit the books right after. Several hours and suggested videos later, it’s late, you’re sleepy and you’re no closer to starting your essay. Now you have to wake up super early and crank out work that’s well below your potential, increasing your feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and, in extreme cases, anxiety and depression.

We’ve all been there. Here are three productivity tips to take back your school year, your job or career.

  1. Develop mindful habits and be consistent.

James Clear ‘08 believes that most people misinterpret productivity as “getting more things done” every day. “Productivity,” he says, “is getting important things done consistently.”

Just like showering, brushing your teeth and getting dressed, developing, prioritizing and staying consistent with mindful habits are as important as the work itself. This can look like reading, writing in a journal, listening to music or a podcast, meditating, exercising–anything that gets you in the work mindset.

  1. Break up large projects into short, manageable goals.

It’s so easy to start a large project with good intentions, but get caught up in those small tasks that don’t contribute to productivity, giving us that hollow sense that we’ve accomplished something. Or, we see large projects as a responsibility for which we must set aside a huge chunk of our day to complete. Instead, you may find it useful to specifically set your goals.

  1. Take several breaks!

Dr. James Levine points out that “the thought process is not designed to be continuous.” Taking frequent breaks–away from your workspace–enhances productivity, memory, inspiration and creativity. A study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign discovered that people who take short breaks once every hour perform better than their those who work uninterrupted.

I found this to be consistent with my own experience interning at HomeAdvisor this past summer. HomeAdvisor encourages its employees to take breaks, offering fully-equipped game rooms and a basketball court right outside its headquarters. This company also offers unlimited paid time off. According to Benzinga, HomeAdvisor, along with its newly-acquired firm Angie’s List, has accrued 5.5 percent share of the nearly $700 billion home services market in 2018, and is projected to keep growing in the next year.

Having “things to do” will always be present, and getting started is the hardest part. But the main takeaway is this: productivity is not an action, it’s a mindset. The sooner you get into that mindset, the easier it is to be productive.