As many of you grad school newbies have probably noticed and as many of you grad school veterans know, grad school is awesome because you have loads of flexibility and a lot of independence. But with independence and flexibility comes issues with productivity. Of course productivity is an issue beyond graduate school but for myself maintaining acceptable productivity in grad school is one of the hardest things I have dealt with. I have learned a few things about productivity and figured I would share them here.
Your environment is really important. I can’t take work home with me because I know I would never do it. There are just so many more important things to do (like bake a cake, dust the book shelf and best of all…nap)! However some of my friends thrive when they can work from home because it’s quieter, there are less lab mates around to distract them and no student’s knocking at the door. I also find that having a tidy work space helps me work effectively and increase productivity. It’s less overwhelming and much less distracting.
Put the Iphone down or turn it off. Although it seems tempting to check your Facebook notifications (which mostly end up being for Candy Crush Saga), check what your friends are posting on Pinterest (it’s mostly just cute cats and excessively chocolaty cake recipes) or ask Siri what the meaning of life is….it isn’t worth it! I have been experimenting lately with a 55 minute rule. Every day I work for 55 minutes and then look at my phone, work for another 55 minutes and then look at my phone (repeat, repeat, repeat).
Calendars, daytimers, planners, to-do lists….There are lots of different options to help you stay on top and stay productive. There is something about making a list and checking things off that feels so good. I love my calendar and I know Sharday mentioned this before too. If there is a task that I need to do every day, I still write it in the calendar. I start with those tasks and that gets me on a roll, check, check, check. From there it just seems to flow!
Don’t work excessively long hours. I accept that sometimes this is necessary but I find that if you have a goal, activity or engagement of some sort it keeps you on track and working hard during the day. It doesn’t need to be a black tie gala that you look forward to every night. Sometimes the things I look forward to are as simple as taking a trip to the public library to find a new read, meeting a friend for coffee, watching my favourite TV show or baking a cake!
If you’re stuck on something, take a different approach. One thing I have found that really helps is talking it over with someone. Talk it through with your Supervisor, or a colleague or even your parents! Sometimes just hearing yourself state the problem out loud is the first step to coming to a solution!
Have a hobby. You can’t focus on work all the time. Take some time and do something you enjoy. Play a sport, join a club, start volunteering, collect something or take up baking. Just take some time and relax like I talked about earlier this year and as did Rachel!
Hopefully you find some of these suggestions useful. Staying productive is an ongoing battle and sometimes it really is hard. How do you stay productive? If you have any tips we would love to hear from you! Happy Monday everyone!
Note: I have been watching Cake Boss all weekend and as such, the number of times I reference cake in this post exceeds normal limits.