Do you feel like you’re putting all the effort you have into your schoolwork? Do you wonder if there’s a way to make the most of your day, inside and outside of classes? Since you’ve hit your capacity of effort, learning how to work smarter, not harder, is your next step.
Maybe you know people who effortlessly juggle clubs, sports, work and school — and you wonder how they can have time for all of it. When you learn how to work smarter, not harder, you develop the ability to do that, too. You’ll be able accomplish what you need to and still have time to do things you enjoy.
Strategically approaching your schoolwork can reduce your stress and boost your results. But restructuring your habits requires a few changes. Here are six ways to work smarter, not harder.
1. Don’t Put Things Off
A tendency that most students have is procrastination, and it’s hard to fight. You don’t feel like doing homework, so you leave it until the deadline is looming — and then the surge of adrenaline, and probably coffee, help you power through. While you may get your project done, you’re tired now, and that makes it harder to accomplish your other tasks and assignments.
To help replace a procrastination mindset, try focusing on your end goal. Maybe your goal is to get a good grade in the class, or you might end up seeing this particular subject later on in your course studies for your major.
Maybe the material is something directly related to your career path. When you realize how the present will impact your future, it’s easier to find the motivation to get things done before the last minute.
2. Avoid Multitasking
You may think that doubling up on tasks is clever and lets you optimize your time. But human brains are not wired for effective multitasking, and your attempts at switching between tasks can harm your performance in school.
It might seem like a useful idea to listen to an audiobook for your American literature course while you finish calculus homework. But you can suffer in both classes when you split your attention.
Improve your quality of work by giving each to-do item on your list your full concentration. Devote focus to important projects. You can avoid the extra trouble it takes to tackle two things at once.
3. Plan out Your Time
Preparing for upcoming tests, papers and reading can make your work manageable and protect you from distractions. Set up blocks of time in your schedule to knock out each item.
When you assign a purpose to sections of your day, you can achieve better results. Leverage your time to keep your work in a steady flow with an organized lifestyle. Dedicate sections of your day to schoolwork, so you aren’t exerting more energy than you need to.
4. Prioritize Tasks
Each semester, your classes range in level of difficulty. Certain courses have a tough teacher or a demanding workload, while others are less complicated. So, when a paper is coming up in your hardest class, and a test is approaching in your easiest one, you have to choose which task to take on first and how much time you’ll devote to each.
Determine which projects deserve more time and effort. Carve out a proportionate block in your schedule based on each item’s importance. Cut tasks that aren’t worth spending time on to fully prioritize your to-do list.
5. Use Breaks Wisely
You need time to recover and regroup before moving on to new tasks, so add in sections for breaks so you can have enough motivation to face the rest of your day. Be flexible with your schedule and adjust when you need to.
Striving to do your best in school can lead to burnout without pauses in your busy day. But a short rest can restore motivation and stimulate learning. Overly strict plans can become unrealistic, so provide time to hang out with a friend, take a refreshing nap or participate in an enjoyable activity.
6. Take Advantage of Resources
At your school, you have access to experienced teachers and crucial information. Use these assets to enhance your schoolwork and push you in the right direction. If you have a question about an assignment, you can consult your professor or an online resource to reach an answer. Use the resources available to you to maximize your potential for the future.
Make Your Time Work for You
To work smarter, not harder, consider how you’re currently using your time and tackling projects. Try these methods to function efficiently with a smooth workflow. Discover what’s holding you back and restructure your approach to see improvement.
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