Guide to Productivity for College Students

A productive student is a successful student. This is much easier said than done in college. Temptations to slack off abound, so the first thing to remember in the fight for productivity is that you are not in college to earn a bachelors degree in fun. They do not award honors for a sparkling social life. Mastering every game produced for the X-Box 360 is not an accomplishment that will look good on a resume. In order to be productive, students require motivation, a plan of attack, or just a good swift kick in the rear.

The following guidelines can help you crack the whip and achieve a higher level of productivity.

The motivator

If only we could hire Mr. Schwarzenegger to show up on campus every once in awhile in his dark glasses with that imposing accent to command us in the ways of the scholar. There would be no oversleeping, no cutting corners on reading, no wasting valuable study time, and productivity would reach an all-time high. Many students relied on outside motivators in high school. Mom, dad, friends, counselors, and teachers all offered reminders and help on a daily basis.

Part of the challenge of being a college student is to learn how to stop relying on outside motivators and become motivated to accomplish all that must be done from within. You don’t need to fork over big bucks to attend the latest motivational speaker conference, all that is required to be self-motivated is to figure out ways to rely on your strengths and curb those pesky weaknesses. Motivated individuals have clearly defined goals that they work toward achieving a little bit every day. Motivated people take advantage of all the study aids offered on campus and don’t ever give lame excuses for a bad performance on an exam. Motivated people take care of their health by getting plenty of sleep, eating right, exercising, and taking strategic study breaks. Motivated people manage time, finances, and the work load of each semester in a creative and efficient manner, all without having to be nagged by a disgruntled roommate or over the phone by an anxious mother.

The battle plan

Productivity is not something that just happens. If a student wants to be more productive, they must first be organized enough to create and implement a plan to achieve this. It begins with the simple task of listing all the work that has to be done in a semester on a master calendar. Mark in bold, unmistakable colors the deadline for any papers or projects. Mark off test days and the two days before hand to study then go though and write out any assignments for reading or other work you know about in advance. You must plan out the time when you intend to do your homework. If you don’t have it on the calendar, you risk making other, much more appealing plans instead and will find yourself between a rock and a hard place come next class period.

Make it your mission to not be caught off guard, unprepared, or staying up all night finishing an assignment you had weeks to accomplish. Deal a death blow to procrastination. It won’t help you in college, or anywhere else in life for that matter. Invest in a file cabinet or any other system that helps you keep track of important paperwork. Be sure you have enough paper and other office essentials in your study environment. Eliminate distractions. In a prominent place where you can’t help but look every day, post your attack plan. Make daily to-do lists. Being proactive in these ways will ultimately result in more productivity.

The good swift kick

You are attending college today because the admissions office looked at your records and determined that you were more than capable of doing college level work. Unproductive college students are not unintelligent, they are either unprepared, unmotivated, or in need of an attitude adjustment. We’ve already addressed the first two issues, now on to that attitude adjustment. Productivity can go way down in the life of any student who has succumbed to negative thinking. Every college student is vulnerable to falling into a funk and might lack the necessary means to get back out again. A good, swift kick in the rear is just the medicine for such a person. This will look different for every individual.

Some students may need to seek counseling or other help from advisers and student services to get back in the saddle. Some may need to have a pow-wow with parents or department heads to help determine the source of their malaise. The good swift kick can be letting go of outside activities that are interfering with a productive study life. It can be revamping your entire major and life purpose to reflect your true passions. A good swift kick is anything that gets a student who is struggling out of the “poor me” zone and focused on productive solutions.

Getting away for the weekend and gaining a new perspective can be a much-needed shot in the arm. If your bonfire of productivity has faded into smoking embers, take the necessary steps of realigning your attitude, confidence, and life goals. Often times a new approach, a dramatic change, or just an increased understanding of a difficult situation is enough to jolt a college student back into a more productive way of life.

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