I’m in medical school, I run a blog, I keep in contact with friends and family multiple times a day, I go to church, I try to workout regularly, and more recently I have been trying to do shoots every 1-3 weeks for my blog. Also I’d like to add that I require 7-8 hours of sleep per day to be functional. Some days are more stressful than others but I’ve managed to create a system where I am able to accomplish everything on my to-do list plus more.
Don’t be fooled though, I wasn’t always this way. I used to live a life of procrastination and staying up late to cram for exams and meet deadlines. But that life was too stressful and not sustainable and I was very unhappy. My lightbulb moment was when I realized that if I was more productive during dedicated working times, I freed up a lot more time to do the things I really wanted to do.
Whether you’re a student like me, or already living in the professional world, here are 5 tips for you to use daily to maximize your productivity so you can free up time for your passions, side hustles, and interests.
HACK #1: MAKE A SCHEDULE
I used to think that I could live my life freely without a schedule… I was wrong. I found that without a schedule, I wasted a lot of time doing things I shouldn’t have been doing. Blogging infiltrated my study time, study time infiltrated my sleep time, and everything was a mess.
Recently I’ve been very strict about keeping to a schedule and it has helped immensely. It has also helped to keep a schedule on the weekends/ my days off. Here’s an example of my shoot day schedule, which is typically a day that I have off from any commitments.
5-5:30am – Wake up + breakfast
5:30-8am – study using Forest App (see below)
8am-12pm – photos for blog
12-1pm – lunch/ get settled in
1-6pm – study using Forest App
6-9pm – dinner & gym
9pm-whenever – varies (ex: go out/ sleep/ study some more/ netflix)
My schedules are jam packed and even my days “off” are work days. Working out and blogging are fun for me so I don’t mind having work to do as long as I can fit one of these two activities in. I have a gym in my building so sometimes a “workout” is a quick walk to the gym down the hall to run a mile or 2 before bed.
HACK #2: WAKE UP EARLY
As you can see from my schedule above, 5am is the new norm. I am NOT a morning person and sometimes I sleep in especially if I don’t have requirements until later on in the morning.
Even though I HATE waking up that early, there’s something about the stillness and darkness of the early morning that I love. I try to take 15 min for coffee and prayer before I do anything else.
Because I’m up so early, it forces me to be productive. Like I said, I’m not a morning person so if I’m up that early you best believe I’m going to be productive.
HACK #3: MINIMIZE DISTRACTIONS
This kind of links back to hack #1 which is to make a schedule. But even after you make a schedule, how do you ensure that you actually stick to it? I do my studying in large chunks of time (typically 3-5 hours if I can). I rather have 2 large blocks of study time and then plan my other activities/ requirements around those.
How do I stay focused during those 3-5 hours? I use the Forest App. Forest is basically a pomodoro timer, that I love. Pomodoro is basically studying for 30-60 minutes and then taking a 5-15 minute break and then you repeat. I love that the Forest App flashes motivational messages and it keeps me from accessing other apps on my phone while the timer is active. I typically do 60 minutes of focused time with 15 minute breaks. My favorite part is that the app tells you how many productive hours you had. I aim to have 2-12 hours of productivity per day depending on what was on my agenda for that day.
Other tips for staying focused include working on full screen on my laptop and turning off my wifi when I don’t need the internet. I also keep my phone and laptop on do not disturb and I remove Messages from my Macbook dock when I’m studying so I don’t see text message notifications pop up.
HACK #4: FIND YOUR BEST ENVIRONMENT
I HATE libraries so I don’t go there. I personally love coffee shops, but driving to one, finding parking, finding an empty table near an outlet, connecting to the sometimes spotty wifi, ordering food/ coffee all waste time. By the time I’m settled I usually wasted 30min to an hour of my time.
Recently I’ve been studying at home (hence the lack of #studyspo pics on my instagram feed). It saves gas, money and time, and quite honestly I’m pretty productive. I have fast wifi, snacks, and coffee at my disposal and its quiet.
I love cafe studying but I have opted for studying at home and using cafe’s for tasks like sending emails, editing blog photos or writing a blog post. T
If you’re a library studier, then don’t play yourself… go to the library. If you need to be home, then live in your truth and stay home. Realizing where I work best has been hard for me, because I miss studying with my friends in cute LA cafe’s but my wallet and my grades thank me.
HACK #5: GET DRESSED
I used to wonder why stay at home moms and housewives got dressed even if they weren’t going any where for the day. But I read a post from a mommy blogger about how getting dressed and putting on makeup helps her feel her best and it keeps her feeling “awake” even though she could get away without showering and dressing frumpy. Because I study at home, it’s very tempting to study in PJs but I try not to. For me, wearing jeans or something less comfy than my PJs keeps me from crawling into bed.
I hope these tips help you to stay productive so you can have more time for the fun things.
How do you maximize productivity?