Forcing yourself to be productive is a tricky business for most. Sometimes our brains just don’t want to cooperate! Since you probably don’t want to end up spending St. Patrick’s Day catching up on homework, here are six strategies to reclaim focus right now and get stuff done today.
Use the 5 minute rule – Stick a note on your laptop or desk that says “5 minute rule.” If it takes 5 minutes or less to accomplish a task, always just do it right away! Pretty simple stuff, but you’d be surprised how much less you will procrastinate.
Don’t underestimate the power of coffee and some fruit, like a banana and some strawberries. Caffeine will definitely help you focus and regain some ambition, in addition to being a rich source of antioxidants. Consuming fruit or a light starch with coffee helps to keep you from becoming edgy or over caffeinated. Don’t like coffee? Make it a Macchiato, Chai tea, or herbal alternatives to coffee like Yerba Mate.
Play new or unfamiliar music to trick your brain’s cycle of productivity. Listening to ambient strains of music can double or triple the amount of time you can focus before needing a break. According to music technology service Focus@will, “Most people can only concentrate for a maximum of about 20 or 30 continuous minutes before needing to take a quick break,” but listening to new or unfamiliar music can help break this cycle by “subtly soothing the part of your brain, the limbic system, that is always on the lookout for danger, food, or shiny things.” These distractions can be overcome by listening to music at low volume, slightly louder than ambient noise.
Take a 20 minute nap, it’s like hitting the restart button on your brain. The ideal nap time is between 1:00 and 3:00 PM in the afternoon, according to Lifehacker.com, and should be 15-20 minutes long.
Get out of your room and go work in the library, coffee shop, or a quiet cafeteria. Surprisingly, the bustle of a public place can actually help you focus. According to the Wallstreet Journal, research suggests, “small doses of distraction—including hard-to-read fonts—prompt the mind to work at a more abstract level, which is also a more creative level.” Take into account some coffee shops are louder and more crowded than others. If you still prefer to stay in and study, you can synthesize ambient noise by turning on the TV the volume low or opening the windows.
Look at Pictures of Baby Animals. It’s scientific fact that looking at infant animals can awaken paternal instincts, making you more alert and observant. I recommend kittens, but bunnies, pandas, seals, otters, chicks, ducklings, or puppies will also do.
When and where are you most productive? Let us know in the comments or tweet @bncollege #beingproductive. Stay Focused my Friends!