5 things I’ve learnt that boost my productivity as a student in lockdown
If there’s one thing this pandemic has given us, it’s space to self-reflect. For me, these lockdowns have been a time to look at how to make myself more productive whilst I study for a Master’s degree.
As Hugh Grant demonstrates in the film About a Boy, it has been helpful to break my day up into units of time. For those yet to see this gem, Hugh Grant plays Will Freeman, who out of boredom, adopts this approach to fill his days. ‘Taking a bath: one unit, watching countdown: one unit, web-based research: two units’, said Will. You get the idea. He’s bored because he chooses to live off royalties left to him from a successful Christmas hit his father composed, rather than getting a job. Ironically though, I believe that Will was actually offering us some sound advice. By breaking my day up into units of time, with each unit consisting of no more than an hour, I’ve found my productivity levels have increased.
So here are five ways I’ve improved my productivity as a student by thinking of my days as units of time.
1. Understanding what wellness professional Adrienne Herbert calls our ‘Power Hour’
This Power Hour, Adrienne explains, is the first hour that you are awake each day. What you decide to do with this hour is your call, but she believes it is the most important hour of the day, and will set you up for either success or failure.
From her research, she discovered that almost ‘every single successful person, whether they were a professional athlete, a CEO of a billion pound company or a best-selling author, all attribute a huge proportion of their success to their morning routine’.
Her advice therefore is to be considered about what you’re doing in that first hour. Don’t just act by default. Make it count.
2. Using my Power Hour to do Yoga as it gets my body moving and my blood pumping
I’d never tried yoga before we went into lockdown. But my girlfriend thought doing sessions online together would be a great way to stay connected whilst we lived apart. Yoga with Adriene was the answer. Based in Texas, her online classes on YouTube are perfect for complete novices like me who want to feel less sluggish and more energised.
I’d also highly recommend the Down Dog app which allows you to personalise your yoga practice each time by selecting your experience level, time, style, voice and music. Right now you can get 75% off which is great for us students in need of a bargain.
3. Focusing on uni work for 40 minute bursts at a time
I personally cannot concentrate for more than 40 minutes before losing focus, and so I have made this my cut-off point. Once I’ve taken a short break, that journal article I’m reading is much more likely to sink in.
Having a cut-off also has the added bonus of ensuring I don’t go square-eyed. Following the eye health charity Fight for Sight’s findings, this is now more important than ever, as the study showed that out of 2,000 respondents, 50% were using screens more since Covid struck, and 38% of those believed their eyesight had got worse as a result.
4. Getting some much needed fresh air for half an hour at lunchtime
I think it's so important to stretch the legs and get some fresh air, and so I go out every day for half an hour regardless of the weather. I tend to walk around my local park in North London as I crave a bit of greenery.
Walking wakes me up and helps me process any thoughts I’ve had that morning. It also recharges my batteries so that I’m ready to tackle the afternoon head on.
5. Switching off once it’s gone six
I think the key thing here is to have fun. I don’t think it matters what you do - just commit to doing it. I’ve found that when I switch off and focus on something completely different, it makes me feel more refreshed the next morning.
I’m a big sports fan and since I can’t do any of that whilst in lockdown, the next best option for me is to play board games with my housemates. So we play games three nights a week starting at 8pm sharp. Board games also save my eyes from staring at yet another screen. If you like the sound of this idea but are unsure where to start, try Bananagrams.