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Productivity for Students: 8 Behaviors You Think Are Helping But Aren’t

Many of the tips of productivity for students revolve around bad advice. While lots of nuggets can go either way, the ones we are about to discuss are too often seen as positives when they actually derail progress. In the following article, we’ll be discussing why people recommend them as well as why each one tends to go off-the-rails more often than not. Let’s begin!

1. An actual social life

How could having a social life go badly? Don’t you need the decompression time to recharge your batteries and come back at a problem with a renewed sense of energy? Well, yes and no. By all means, you don’t want to obsess and make yourself miserable during school, but a social life for the sake of a social life is hard to reel in.

The better function of a social life is as a reward for accomplishing something. If you haven’t put in enough time and effort to get good grades and, more importantly, learn key concepts that will help you develop a deeper understanding of subject matter, then the last thing you need to be doing is going out on parties and dates.

Meeting your responsibilities and obligations will allow you to enjoy the social life you allow. Giving yourself an unearned social life will create a barrier between your personal life and the things you need to be doing to succeed. It’ll also either create too much guilt to enjoy the moment or put off the negatives until they all come crashing down at once.

2. Trusting your instincts

We get why people tell you to trust your instincts. At a certain point, you have to exercise judgment. But too often, we use our instincts before developing even the most rudimentary understanding of the subject. Instincts without education can set you back big time, forcing you to start over from scratch in the re-evaluation of your work.

When you get frustrated to the point of “trusting your instincts” over reason, you need to stop yourself from going too far down the rabbit hole. Find your last level of understanding. From there, you will be able to better determine what went wrong.

Then, take stock of your resources. What do you have access to that will help you break through the lack of understanding? This could be anything from meeting with your instructor outside of class, to hiring a tutor, to watching more YouTube videos or reading more accessible books on the subject, to connecting with a classmate who has a better understanding of the topic.

3. Taking breaks

This goes back to the social life fallacy (see No. 1). You should not take anything more than what is earned. While we all need to get up and stretch our legs from time-to-time, breaks can occur with more frequency than they should. This especially is true when we become frustrated.

The workaround to this is to get hyper-focused on moving the needle. Don’t cut yourself off from taking five or 10 minutes to rejuvenate. But don’t allow it until you can look at something tangible from your efforts. This may mean having to set the bar low in the beginning. That’s okay. If you can achieve one thing, however small, in regards to what you’re studying, then it becomes easier to climb a little higher in your understanding.

Breaks should be reserved for those little periods between accomplishments.

4. Pushing through

If you get on a roll with something, it’s easy to think, “Well, I’ll just push through this even though I’m tired and zoning out.” This is a mistake. Flow is important to achievement. If you feel it starting to slip, then your ability to achieve will start to slip as well. Moments like these are when it’s okay to step away for a break or a snack or a nap.

It goes back to the rule of diminishing returns. You will reach a point where expending more effort results in less productivity. That’s when you want to scale back and reconsider your approach.

5. Using social media

Social media can keep you connected to friends and family. It also can help with researching topics, staying up-to-date on what is happening in the news, and coordinating with study group members. That said, it does more harm than good, particularly through massive networks like Twitter or Facebook where the unending scroll of comments and links can drag your brain off in directions it shouldn’t be going.

You’re probably going to use social media no matter what, but consider imposing restrictions on how you can access it throughout the day. Don’t put apps on your phone. Make it impractical to get to it on your laptop by installing timers that block certain websites for a prescribed period of time. By keeping social media “in its place,” you’ll get more done and lead a happier life.

6. Checking email too much

Email generally has more substance to it than the interactions you’ll find on social media. So sticking with your inbox over Facebook must be the way to go, right? Careful!

Just like social networks can eat away your productivity time, email lends itself to abuse, especially if you have your phone set up to buzz or ding every time you get a new message. In this context, it’s just like having a social media app on your phone. It becomes too distracting, constantly pulling you out of the flow state necessary for doing your best work.

7. Setting goals

Setting goals is more often than not a helpful practice. But you can’t be so rigid that you fail to allow for flexibility. When you don’t plan for the unexpected — and you don’t give yourself permission to explore it as necessary — you can run into trouble. Side effects are getting frazzled and overwhelmed, and creating a situation where you can’t make an effective decision.

A better way to handle this is to not set too many goals for a single day. Try to accomplish just one major item instead of a massive to-do list. Accomplishing just one major project will give you the boost of confidence you need to take on more as needed.

8. Doing too many things at once

Some people consider themselves to be great multitaskers. In truth, no such person exists. Each and everyone of us are terrible at trying to devote the same level of attention to two or more things at a time.

What we think of as multitasking — and what we might be good at — is switch-tasking. Switch-tasking is when we redirect the full power of our brains from one problem to another quickly. It’s not the same thing as doing two things at once, so stop trying!

Productivity for Students, or Anyone, Requires Balance

As you can see from this productivity for students advice, each one can be good in a certain context, but just adhering to each one blindly without realizing the need for balance creates more trouble. Now it’s your turn, readers. What are some otherwise positive productivity tips that you have noticed can be used for evil? And which of these do you struggle with the most? Sound off in the comments section below!

[Featured Image by US Army website]

Written by

's work appears regularly here at 4tests.com and across the web for sites, such as The Inquisitr and Life'd. A former high school teacher, his passion for education has only intensified since leaving the classroom. At 4tests, he hopes to continue passing along words of encouragement and study tips to ensure you leave school ready to face an ever-changing world.

Website: http://aricmitchell.blogspot.com/

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