Life

How To Stay Productive

We get it—it feels like teachers are determined to make sure you have no time for fun after school. Your schedule may be chock full of projects, reports, and presentations, but there are plenty of things you can do to work more productively and efficiently to decrease the time you spend on homework and increase the time you spend on you.

We get it—it feels like teachers are determined to make sure you have no time for fun after school. Your schedule may be chock full of projects, reports, and presentations, but there are plenty of things you can do to work more productively and efficiently to decrease the time you spend on homework and increase the time you spend on you.

Lesley Martin, professional academic coach and founder of ClassTracker, shares her tips for staying productive.

Focus On One Thing At a Time. As much as we love having our phones to entertain us between chapters or problem sets, they really only hinder us. The brain is designed to focus on one cognitively demanding task at once. Studies have shown that when students multi-focus (i.e. doing homework while watching TV), it slows them down by almost 40%. By working in a totally distraction-free zone, you are able learn better and faster.

Tips:

  • Put your phone on airplane mode—if you don’t know your best friend sent you the latest viral meme, you won’t feel the need to pick up your phone and reply.
  • Find a place to study in your house where you won’t be interrupted or distracted.

Try the Pomodoro Method. Your brain is a muscle. Like all other muscles, it needs plenty of time to recover after use. When we work without breaks, our brains get tired and slow down. To avoid this, try the Pomodoro Method! Set a timer for 25 minutes, and work in a totally distraction-free zone. Once the time is up, take a five-minute device-free break. (That means no checking Snapchat!) Cycle through this three more times, and then take a 15-20 minute break.

Tips:

  • Have your homework or study plan prepared before you get started so you know what you need to do for each “Pomodoro session.”
  • Brainstorm a list of device-free break ideas. Here are a few: taking a snack break, snuggling your pet, or practicing five minutes of mindfulness.

Get Plenty of Sleep. Recent research shows teens need at least eight hours of sleep a night. During sleep, the brain downloads what you have learned during the day into your long term memory. If you don’t get enough sleep, your “memory stick” doesn’t complete its download- leaving out key information. Also, because your “memory stick” wasn’t cleared, there’s not as much room for you to learn new material the next day. In general, try to get as much sleep as possible, but especially the night before a big test. Trust us- your brain will thank you.

Tip:

  • Avoid using electronics at least 30 minutes before you go to bed- this will help you fall asleep more easily

Lesley Martin is a professional Academic Coach, best-selling author of “Make the Grade” and “Where’s My Stuff” and former teacher at a top-ranked Bay Area High School. For 20 years she’s steered students towards success by teaching them how to manage their time and workload. She’s also the founder of ClassTracker (myclasstracker.com), a company that sells tools that helps teenagers and college students learn the skills they need to manage time, projects, and activities all in one place.

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