When you become a student, using tools like a net blocker, and instilling the proper habits and mindsets in yourself become ESSENTIAL to your success.
You start getting hit with a WHOLE lot of tasks and priorities: There’s school work, classes, health, social things, family and more….
And you have to try to balance and make everything work all while living your life.
Do you ever feel like you’re overwhelmed, stressed and burned out?
In this article, you’re going to learn about 18 techniques that will not only help you achieve more, but decide what to do, what’s important and how to push forward while conquering it all!
1. Get comfortable and familiar with The Pomodoro Technique.
The Pomodoro technique is talked about EVERYWHERE.
Basically: You work for an uninterrupted span of time (usually 25 minutes), then take a five minute break. After a few Pomodoros strung together or finishing a task, you take a longer break.
During these Pomodoros there are NO distractions allowed, no changes and no “I’m just going to get some coffee real quick.”
The Pomodoro technique has been scientifically proven to help make people more productive, providing a good framework of how to structure your work day.
That being said….
2. You can only output a maximum of 4-5 hours of productive work a day, and should plan your day based on that.
There’s a sick disease that came into play with the introduction of author/entrepreneur Tim Ferriss’ book, The Four-Hour Work Week: It’s the thinking that if we can keep fine tuning our productivity to do more, then we should work AS MANY HOURS as we can during the day.
But in an article by Crew, they cite scientific studies of how a person can only really do a maximum of 4-5 hours of productive work a day.
And ask yourself: Why are you really working? If you’re like most people, it’s so that you can do fun stuff (passions, hobbies, etc.) or spend time with people you love after you finish.
The answer is to PRIORITIZE and DELEGATE tasks, or SYSTEMIZE things so that things can run without you … and accept that you can only do so much.
Don’t try to fit more in, which is sure to lead you to burn out.
3. Get physical activity and meditate everyday.
There are so many benefits to exercising and meditation that it’s stupid NOT to do them: Decreased stress, clearer thinking, more grey matter being built in the brain and more.
Meditation helps you disassociate from your thoughts and emotions and the stories you tell yourself, so you can clearly see what’s going on and move forward.
Now, the brain is what helps you do your work and the body carries it. But if you don’t move your body, both will decay.
Most of us sit at desks in front of computers all day and we were NOT meant for this – get up and MOVE.
4. Learn about what nootropics are.
Nootropics, or “smart drugs,” are a class of compounds people use to give them cognitive boosts. They can be things as simple as coffee, which increases focus and makes you more awake, to more serious things.
Discussing nootropics is beyond the scope of the article, but there are plenty of resources available, if you’re interested.
Just know that nootropics are NOT substitutes for strong habits (as they only amplify what’s already there), and using them day in and day out can lead to health or tolerance problems.
5. Set deadlines with ALL of your projects.
If it doesn’t have a deadline, it won’t get done. Deadlines might add a bit of stress to your life, but they let you prioritize. Otherwise, things will get done “when you feel like it” – i.e., you’ll always find other things to do instead of the hard work or working on the “big mover” tasks.
This is ESPECIALLY true when it comes to something creative like writing.
6. Get into an accountability or mastermind group.
Speaking of deadlines, the use of accountability is an essential way to get things done.
Basically, we can buy into our own nonsense. But, if we tell someone else what we intend to do, then we can’t really “get out” of things.
Accountability groups help you stay on track and not get distracted by nonsense thoughts in your brain. You can also put money down on finishing your goals by a certain time.
Groups of people forming together, sharing ideas and holding each other accountable, are known as mastermind groups. They are a staple for every productive person and the sooner you find one, the better.
7. Socializing and recharging activities are IMPORTANT. Learn what yours are, and do them EVERYDAY.
Again, while work, responsibilities and making a living are important, don’t forget to make a life while you do them.
Spend your time after work enjoying recharging activities and being with people you love. Make sure you TALK TO PEOPLE everyday versus sticking with the isolation our headphone generation is so prone to.
Use a simple site blocker to force yourself away from the computer if you have to.
When it’s work time, stay focused, but don’t forget to get up and go outside.
8. Use a simple calendar.
Having a simple calendar, like Google Calendar, is essential to keep your appointments in order – professional, personal, health or otherwise.
You can use a calendar integration tool like Calendly (the basic version is free!), to look super professional and have people schedule appointments to talk to you.
9. Get a task management tool like ASANA.
To keep everything organized, you’ll need a project management tool. Here, you can put personal projects, and work projects as well, broken down into the tasks you have to accomplish for each project.
There are TONS of great ones out there, but ASANA is loved by many and is free for personal use.
10. Get 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night.
While there are polyphasic sleep schedules you can try, most people are going to need 7-8 hours of sleep a night.
DO NOT mess around with this. Short term, maybe, when there’s a deadline you really need to hit. But, long term sleep deprivation has disastrous effects to your health.
Don’t sacrifice your health for some work.
11. Do a weekly review.
Doing a weekly review is essential to not only determine your priorities for the coming week, but it’s also great for looking back at what went right the week before and what you need to improve on.
Check out this article for a good outline of how to do a weekly review.
12. Batch similar or “mind numbing” tasks.
Another concept popularized by Ferriss’ book was that of “batching.”
When it comes to similar tasks, put them together into a chunk of time, assign that time and then stick to it.
For example: I will check e-mails between 10-11 a.m. and 1-2 p.m. You might want to consider using a net blocker or app to help you with this (blocking your e-mail except between those time slots).
If people REALLY need to get a hold of you, they’ll find a way.
They’re too busy with their own world to worry about one e-mail.
Here are examples of things you should batch:
- Phone calls
- Making food
13. DO NOT multitask.
Multitasking does NOT exist. The human mind can only do ONE thing at a time.
Delegation and creating systems to work in while you actively focus on something else is one thing, but you, yourself, can only do one thing at a time.
So, no TV + work. No two screens working on two different things.
Do one thing. Finish it. Move on to the next.
14. Take frequent breaks.
You can’t work for hours straight and be productive.
Have you ever noticed that after an hour or so of work, you’ll start to get tired?
Your mind and body are telling you that they need time away from the screen.
And that’s not only for your mind to recharge, it’s to save your eyes from being burned out.
Take five minute breaks every Pomodoro. Take longer breaks every hour. Eat lunch. Get to the gym.
You’ll work FASTER because of all this!
Speaking of which….
15. Take a full day off every week.
You know the 80/20% rule? Well, it applies to working as well.
If you work six days a week, don’t worry about taking one day off.
Taking one day (or a “Sabbath”) COMPLETELY off is SO recharging (as long as you do activities that recharge you then), that it should be non-negotiable.
Some people even institute “no screen” rules, where they can’t look at their laptops, only use their phones for coordinating plans with friends and can’t even watch TV, unless they watch with someone else.
16. Get comfortable and learn how to say “No.”
While there’s tons of stuff out there about doing MORE, you should focus on doing the important stuff, which is often accomplished by doing LESS.
You’re only human and can only do so much. In the age of internet, smartphones, virtual assistants and more … remember, that you’re still only human.
Get in the habit of saying no and be comfortable with people being a bit upset. You can focus on what matters, be happier and end up doing more in the end, simply by saying “no.”
17. Build flexibility into your schedule.
Some people plan their schedule down to the minute and become stressed when things take longer than they thought….
Newsflash: EVERYTHING takes longer than you thought.
Add 5-30 minute buffers everywhere you can in your schedule, so you’ll be able to handle things going on later than you thought.
This applies to projects as well: Double the time you think it’ll take to complete
and add buffer days for extra work….
Your lower stress levels will thank you for all this later.
18. Kill procrastination and time wasting activities using a net blocker.
The final step is to use the great apps to help you with your goal.
This is especially important now with more and more Facebooks, Reddits, YouTubes, etc. coming up everyday.
There’s certainly not a lack of things trying to steal your attention and focus.
You can use tools to block these sites and remain focused. Simply learn how to block specific URLs.
Apps like FocusMe can keep you on point, ensuring you manage your time well and don’t spend time where you don’t want to.
Without apps like these, you’ll be fighting a willpower battle to stay off those sites … and you only have so much willpower. Let the app do the work for you.
Many people don’t even look at this stuff EVER in life, let alone when they get out of college.
By getting into this now, you set yourself up to be a high achieving, productive and happy person in society.
Review these techniques, tools and habits. Implement them.
Crush life, have fun and enjoy.