Chances are good that in addition to being a student, you’re also one or more of the following: family member, friend, partner, parent, employee, or pet owner. Balancing all the roles you play in life while nourishing your own well-being and academic excellence is no simple task.
Here are our favorite tips for strengthening the balance between school and the rest of your life to increase productivity.
1. Get enough sleep.
Insufficient sleep takes a huge toll on your cognitive performance, attention, memory and decision-making ability. Stanford University reports, “The average sleep requirement for college students is well over eight hours.” If you’re chronically running a large sleep debt, implementing a good sleep regime and making this tip your number-one priority might be the most important thing you do for your productivity and balance!
2. Wake up earlier.
It’s quiet in the morning, and you have fewer interruptions. Try to be an early riser, even if you’re a night owl by nature. Your body will eventually adapt, and you’ll have time to prioritize your day’s goals without being rushed or distracted. According to researcher Christoph Randler, a biology professor at the University of Education in Heidelberg, Germany, students who were early risers were more proactive throughout their day.
3. Move your body in the a.m.
Why not use some of your new-found morning time to exercise? It’s so easy to skip exercise when you’re busy, but if you get it out of the way first thing in the morning, you move into your day with a great positive mental attitude and a clear head. Yoga stretches, a jog, a power walk, or some quick weight training all get the blood pumping.
4. Tackle your hardest task first.
According to Entrepreneur, take on your biggest challenge for the day when your energy is high and you’re motivated and refreshed. If you procrastinate on the most undesirable job, it will nag at you all day and drain energy away from everything else on your plate.
5. Create a study soundtrack.
Some people concentrate better with music; others need silence. Find your own sweet spot and create a playlist that includes your performance-enhancing style of music. If lyrics distract you, go for mellow instrumentals or nature sounds. Having some background music can help you focus, and it might even improve your cognitive functioning, reports Business Insider.
6. Clean up your computer’s desktop.
If you’re an online student, a cluttered desktop not only makes it harder to find important documents and slows you down – it can actually make you anxious and frustrated, further eroding productivity. “A clean desk or desktop can be like taking a deep breath, allowing you to focus,” notes psychologist Pamela Rutledge, director of the Media Psychology Research Center in Newport Beach, California. Here are five super helpful desktop-organizing tips from Rutledge.
7. Block websites that distract you.
Researchers believe that we rarely maintain focus and attention on a task for more than five minutes before emails, texts, and social media distract us. If this sounds like you, and the temptation to check your Twitter or Facebook feeds is too great, consider applications like Selfcontrol or Cold Turkey. They block attention-sucking websites for a specified period of time, so you can keep your full attention on your work.
8. Silence your devices when studying.
Research from The Harvard Business Review shows these sound alerts cut into your productivity and make you more likely to make mistakes. Putting your phone on “vibrate” is just as detrimental as a tone.
9. Schedule your playtime, and keep the appointment.
Block time in your weekly calendar for friends, family, and time to chill. Treat it as seriously as you do classes and other commitments. No rescheduling — no excuses. Too much focus on academics can harm your most important interpersonal relationships and leave you feeling unsupported. Balance your school, work, and personal life by giving all three the same priority.
For more information on how Johnson & Wales University College of Online Education can help you pursue your career goals, contact us at 855-JWU-1881 or [email protected]. You can also fill out the “Request Info” form on this page.