I struggle with being productive sometimes. I’ve always been a procrastinator in high school and I knew that couldn’t carry through to college, and that led me down a path to finding all sorts of methods to increase student (and personal) productivity. Some will work more than others though, so try them all and choose the ones that work best for you!
1. Change Your Study Environment
Many people will give the same advice and that is to change your study environment to allow you to be productive. And this is partially true, getting a comfortable chair, adequate lighting and adding a standing desk/converter can make a difference. But don’t take it to mean “spend money to make things aesthetic”, you can if you want to, but only do so if you have the money you’re willing to spend.
Standing desks and desk converters can be pretty expensive, but being able to transition while studying without having to move to a whole new area. Sitting all the time can make you sore and uncomfortable after too long, and these things will allow you to do your work while standing for a certain amount of time.
If you have the ability to get a brand new desk, you can grab the standing desk and replace it with your current desk or table. However, if you don’t have the ability to replace an entire table or desk, or want to save some money, the desk converter is the way to go. They will sit on top of the desk you currently have, and at the lowest level, will act as a monitor riser of sorts, and can be raised to be at stand-level.
I’m personally looking towards getting the desk converter because I have a giant custom desk my dad build that I would like to keep (because of the storage space it offers). I haven’t gotten one yet, but I’m eyeing one that’s about $190.
2. Get A Comfortable Chair
This was mentioned above, but a comfortable chair is very necessary if you’re going to be sitting for long periods of time. Now choosing what type of chair you get will be the harder part, I personally have a gaming chair but ergonomic chairs are also an option. I do have another article here that kind of debates one from another.
3. Enlighten Your Room
I honestly cannot stress how important proper lighting is! Have you tried reading a textbook with a not-bright-enough room light? You get tired so quickly and end up completing less work or reading. You can opt for better lightbulbs for your room, or you can get a bright LED lamp. I do not know a lot about light bulbs so I opted to get a LED table lamp instead. I bought mine from Costco and it’s got 3 light settings, 3 light colours and has a colourful LED base.
You don’t need to get something this fancy, any light within your budget will do. I will recommend getting one that does wireless charging if your phone supports that, and if you struggle with a messy tabletop with wires.
4. Visualize Your Work
Procrastination is what will cause you some of the most stress in College or University. One reason why people end up procrastinating or forgetting assignments/due dates altogether is that they don’t see the date or visualize their workload. Some colleges will have some sort of calendar that shows all your due dates, and at some universities, professors will have the due dates (or rough due dates) written in the syllabus.
These are useful, but not always easily accessible for students to really be productive. I recommend having your due dates displayed in two places, and in two different formats. I run on a calendar and checklist system. I use Google Calendar (you can use any calendar) to plan out my classes and use the ‘Tasks’ function to add my due dates, I place the task on the final date or the date it’s due.
I also use a digital academic planner that has an assignment tracker template that allows me to write what assignment it is, the due date and whether it’s complete or in progress (among other options). I cross the item off with a red highlighter on GoodNotes when it’s finished and I can see what assignment is coming up next.
I also use Google Calendar heavily during the school year to help me plan out appointments, grocery runs and workdays too. Just makes everything easier because I tend to be very disorganized otherwise.
5. The Focus Workspace
The focus workspace is really up to you, and you will have to find your work habits, procrastination habits etc. Especially what works or doesn’t work. The first thing I would try is a study space, you can use an app or a web browser study space when studying or doing work. What these are is a special no-distractions web browser or app that allows you to use Pomodoro timers, dynamic scenery, and focus ambience to heighten your productivity.
This may or may not work for some people though, so I will say give it a try first. I use these focus workspaces on and off because sometimes I’m more productive without them. For the web browser, I recommend lifeat.io. I’ve been using this for maybe a year, a year and a half? And I love the scenery they offer, and the variety of ambience available. My favourite study spaces are the Libraries, Cafes and some of the City at night spaces. They’re constantly growing and it’s amazing to see them come this far, so I highly recommend this site!
If you’re more of an app person, I also sometimes use an app. It was initially free but I wanted more options so I paid to upgrade, this app is called; Focus To-Do and looks like an orange and white clock. This is essentially a Pomodoro timer (you can change the length of the timer) with breaks, and you can set the ambience you want it to play. You can add projects, and assign tasks to the project or just create tasks to be completed. These tasks can also be set to repeat at a certain frequency.
FYI, I genuinely use these and the links are not sponsored.
These are the top 5 tips I recommend in order to increase productivity in post-secondary. There are technically more things you can do that involve changing your note-taking and study habits but they are more extensive and are really based on your own way of learning, so I don’t think I’m the best person to be talking about this. I hope this helps!