Productivity is a significant factor that can affect a student’s academic performance. A highly productive student can efficiently manage heavy workloads and submit their requirements on time. In contrast, an unproductive student will struggle to comply with academic instructions and experience a stressful academic life. The productivity or unproductivity of a student tends to depend on various factors including their mental health, study habits, and physical fitness. These factors can affect a student’s brainpower, concentration, and mood which will greatly contribute to their productivity level. Productive students are individuals that can effectively manage these factors to maintain and boost their productivity. This sample research paper will discuss simple study techniques that students can use to boost their academic productivity.
Write Down Tasks and Plans
An effective way to boost student productivity is through listing down tasks in a “to-do list”. Successful individuals utilize intricate planning when they want to accomplish something (Schrager & Sadowski, 2016). This indicates a correlation between successful individuals and written tasks. Schrager & Sawoski (2016) also stated that the Zeigarnik Effect demonstrated that “to-do lists” allow students to use less brainpower as they will not need to remember unfinished tasks. Students can then utilize more of their brainpower to important tasks, such as writing, analyzing, and problem-solving.
Writing down tasks or creating a “to-do list” will require students to obtain a notebook or a planner. Students will simply need to write down their tasks which may be assignments, projects, presentations, or personal errands. Schrager & Sadowski (2016) suggested that individuals should break down their list into urgent and not urgent tasks. This will provide students to take note of the tasks that they should immediately focus on and the ones that they can currently set aside. For students, urgent tasks are assignments or projects with short deadlines while not urgent tasks can be academic papers that are due for a month or two. Students should assess the urgency of a task depending on their knowledge about the topic and their current workload. Additionally, Schrager & Sadowski (2016) stated that breaking down tasks into smaller units can improve productivity. Students can do this in their “to-do lists” by indicating certain steps in accomplishing a task. A student can break down a written academic paper assignment by listing “create a thesis statement”, “make an outline”, and “write the introduction”. This method will allow a student to feel a sense of accomplishment after each task which can improve their mood and productivity.
Learn to Say “No”
Heavy workloads and short deadlines can overwhelm a student and lead to unproductiveness. These workloads may come from either academic instructions or from a student that cannot say “no”. This can be a common student issue as their lives require them to manage academic, personal, and social aspects. Individuals can find it difficult to say “no” to their friends as humans have an inherent desire to help their colleagues (Schrager & Sadowsi, 2016). However, students must aim to overcome this habit to boost their productivity. They must learn to assess their current situation and learn to say “no”. This will allow them to acquire more time to accomplish their tasks and conserve energy for important obligations, thus, boosting creativity.
Students can learn to say no in a variety of ways, however, they must understand that saying “no” is not rude. This is especially true for university students who are managing different classes and projects. One way to say “no” is by not giving an immediate response to someone asking for a favor or task delegation. Instead, a student should tell the requestor that they must first assess their workload before they can give a concrete answer. This method implies to the requestor that the student is currently working on different projects. When the student says “no”, the requestor will understand their situation. Aside from individuals asking for favors, peers may approach students and ask them to go out and engage in leisure activities. During these situations, self-awareness and control will allow a student to ignore peer pressure. Saying “no” will require students to be self-conscious and responsible which can have long-term benefits.
Make Everything Count Twice
“Make everything count twice” simply means that students can boost their productivity by utilizing one task to obtain two or multiple results. Schrager & Sadowski (2016) suggested this technique to improve the productivity of academics working for university promotions. However, students can also utilize it to boost their productivity and improve their academic performances. Students can find the relationships between their classes and projects which can allow them to create innovative ways to make everything count twice. For example, a student may utilize a section of their psychology paper in a literary analysis for their literature class. This allows a student to reuse the knowledge and sources from one subject to another. Through this, a student may save a couple of hours in researching. This can greatly improve productivity since students will save time and develop a better understanding of a topic due to repeated exposure.
Focus on One Task at a Time
Some students may try to multitask to get ahead of their heavy workloads. While this may seem like an effective habit for some, multitasking can have a detrimental effect on a student’s productivity. Multitasking requires the brain to quickly switch focus from one task to another. This can stress the brain and lead to poor concentration. Multitasking can reduce productivity by 40% and lead to an intelligent quotient decrease of up to 10 points (Schrager & Sadowski (2016). This reveals that multitasking is a counterproductive habit that will not only affect concentration but harm a student’s mental capacity.
Students should instead develop the habit of focusing on one task at a time. This will allow them to concentrate on the current task and avoid potential distractions. According to Schrager & Sadowski (2016), the brain can take 30 to 60 seconds before it can fully refocus on a task. This suggests that poor concentration and distractions can lead an individual to waste time. While 30 to 60 seconds may not seem long, continuous distractions can result in more wasted time. To effectively focus on one task, students can utilize their “to-do list” to prioritize a task. They should develop the habit of crossing an accomplished task and moving on to the next. This can significantly boost their productivity as it will establish an efficient study/work method.
Utilize Meeting Applications
The effects of the coronavirus pandemic have led universities to employ online learning methods to continue the education of the next generations. This non-traditional method of education has led some students to become unproductive. Social media platforms, video games, and other online sites can easily distract students from online classes which can lead to poor academic performances. Online instructors can help their students boost productivity by incorporating meeting applications like “Zoom” in online classes. These applications are an effective way to boost student productivity as it allows better engagement and concentration (Mujahidin et al., 2020). Additionally, some students can utilize meeting applications to establish online study groups which can improve their productivity while observing pandemic protocols.
Incorporate Positive Reinforcement
Positive reinforcement can be an effective way to boost productivity as it utilizes psychological research to promote behaviors. The American psychologist B.F. Skinner developed the idea of positive reinforcement after examining rat behavior. Skinner observed that rats tend to repeat an action when they receive food rewards (Cherry, 2018., as cited in Craig, 2021). Humans exhibit the same response which students and instructors can use to improve academic performances. Teachers can incorporate positive reinforcement by giving rewards to students that exhibit productive behavior. The rewards can be stickers, affirmations, recognition, and exam exemptions. The rewards will be dependent on the type of student and school regulations.
For students, they can reward themselves with their favorite thing or activity. However, it is important that they establish a specific academic goal that will promote productivity. For example, a student can aim to achieve a perfect score on a major exam in exchange for purchasing a new pair of shoes. This will instill the behavior of achieving high exam scores in anticipation of a reward. For more effective use of positive reinforcement, students can aim to develop efficient studying habits through the method. For example, they can establish a personal rule which will dictate that they can only play video games after accomplishing their assignments. This will motivate a student to quickly finish their assignments to gain more time playing video games. With proper self-control, this method can significantly boost a student’s creativity.
Maintain a Healthy Physical Condition
Students should maintain a healthy physical condition to keep their brains healthy and improve their productivity. Various researches have revealed that physical fitness has a positive effect on mental health. According to Oxford Royale Academy (n.d.); eating well, drinking plenty of fluids, proper sleep, and exercise can greatly improve a student’s productivity. Additionally, Grimani et al. (2019) revealed in their study that the physical health of employees improved work-related outcomes and productivity. While the latter study focused on working individuals, it provides empirical data regarding the relationship between physical health and productivity.
Students trying to boost their productivity should develop healthy eating habits and aim to exercise regularly. Healthy eating habits may result in a better mental condition which can boost concentration and analysis skills. Students should also try to eat “brain foods”, such as fish, citrus fruits, and cocoa products to improve their productivity. Along with healthy foods, students should avoid dehydration as it can lead to sluggishness and headaches (How to Get More Work, n.d.). Finally, regular exercise and proper sleep will provide physical and mental benefits for a student. Exercise will allow the brain to excrete hormones that improve productivity and mood while proper sleep can lead to better mental health.
Students will need to ensure that their brainpower, study habits, and physical fitness are in good conditions to improve their productivity. This can be essential in developing a less stressful academic life with good academic performance. They can do this by writing down tasks, learning to say “no”, making everything count twice, focusing on one task at a time, using meeting applications, incorporating positive reinforcement in their studying, and maintaining healthy habits. Students should aim to develop some, if not all, of these studying techniques to boost their productivity and enjoy their university life.
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Craig, H. (2021). 5 Activities For Using Positive Reinforcement in the Classroom [Online]. PositivePsychology.com. Available at https://positivepsychology.com/positive-reinforcement-classroom/. Accessed December 16, 2021.
Grimani, A., Aboagye, E., & Kwak, L. (2019). The Effectiveness of Workplace Nutrition and Physical Activity Interventions in Improving Productivity, Work Performance, and Workability: A Systematic Review. BMC Public Health. Available at https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-019-8033-1. Accessed December 16, 2021.
Mujahidin, E., Bahruddin, E., & Hartono, R. (2020). The Role of Meeting Applications in Improving Student Productivity and Health Management amid Corona Virus Pandemic. Yakugaku Zasshi, vol 8(9). Available at https://pesquisa.bvsalud.org/global-literature-on-novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov/resource/pt/covidwho-829004?lang=en. Accessed December 15, 2021.
Oxford-Royale.com. (n.d.). How to Get More Work and Revision Done in Less Time: Tips for Students [Online]. Oxford Royale Academy. Available at https://www.oxford-royale.com/articles/student-productivity-tips/. Accessed December 16, 2021.
Schrager, S. & Sadowski, E. (2016). Getting More Done: Strategies to Increase Scholarly Productivity. Journal of Graduate Medical Education, vol 8(1), 1-13. Available at Schrager, S., & Sadowski, E. (2016). Getting More Done: Strategies to Increase Scholarly Productivity. Journal of graduate medical education, 8(1), 10–13. https://doi.org/10.4300/JGME-D-15-00165.1. Accessed December 15, 2021.