1. EAT RIGHT
Eating healthily has always been a bit of a struggle for me; a few missed meals here and there later replaced by unhealthy snacks. One of my New Year’s resolutions for 2015 is to eat properly, and so far it’s working. I’ve gone for a high energy, high protein diet which means lots of fruit and starchy food, and it’s given me the energy to be able to work through the day. Keeping properly hydrated has also been a huge help in preventing work-related headaches. I don’t feel sluggish. I don’t have to have naps during the day. If you want to be productive, make sure you treat your body right and give yourself the energy to do so.
2. SET ACHIEVABLE GOALS
I love to break down tasks into even smaller tasks for the sheer pleasure of ticking off progress. Every small task done feels like a big achievement and gives me the momentum to keep going. For university essays, for example, I’d break it down like this: 500 words, 1000 words, 1500 words etc., so that I can give myself a tick for every milestone reached. It may sound silly, but sticker charts work wonders here. Perhaps it’s a callback to a younger and more productive me, but it works. Tasks on their own can seem daunting; a 3000 word essay due soon? Impossible. It makes the task difficult to even start because there is no timeframe for when it will end- so give yourself one. Breakdown tasks into smaller, more achievable goals, and watch your progress as you speed through your To-Do list!
3. PLAN YOUR DAY
So you’ve divided your task into a list of smaller tasks, now what? This next tip is all about knowing your limits. Decide how much of your task you want to have completed by the end of the day; do you want a quarter, a half? Less, more? The crucial thing, here, is not to give yourself too much to do each day. If you don’t end up meeting your own expectations it can knock your confidence and decrease overall productivity. In my experience, it works much better if you stretch a task out that little bit longer so that you give yourself a reasonable, and achievable, workload each day. Don’t push yourself too hard and set yourself up to fail. You’ll feel a million times better if you can say you’ve met your daily To-Do list, so plan your time and your day to suit your own progress. It’s not a race, and as long as you meet deadlines no one’s going to care how long you take to get there.
4. GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK!
All work and no play makes for a tiring and boring day, and if your task is going to last a number of days this’ll make getting up every morning a complete drag. Linked to my second tip, you can allot yourself time to relax in between achieved goals. This way, you don’t get that sick, guilty feeling that you should be doing something more productive with your time, because you know this break is well-earned. If you’re doing a lot of reading, especially on a computer screen, breaks are a must if you want to avoid a killer headache. Yes, that deadline is approaching, but you’re not going to be finished in time if you burn yourself out before you’re halfway through!
5. MIX IT UP
Ok, so you have a really time-consuming, really boring task to do. No way around it. Being stuck in your room or the library all day isn’t going to make you feel any better. If it’s sunny or warm enough, take your work outside; the fresh air will do you good. If that’s not an option, try and do your work somewhere different, like a local cafe. I’m a fan of the second option because I love the background hustle and bustle of daily life (as well as a mocha by my side whilst I work). This will rejuvenate your working environment and make your day that little bit less monotonous. There is still a world outside of your deadline, go and see it!