We’re 3 weeks into the new year again, and I'd think that everyone is starting to get back to work or school 😪
If you’re someone who can’t seem to get out of the holiday mood from December, I've packed this article with a few tips, tricks, and tools that you can use to improve your productivity almost instantly.
1) The Pomodoro Technique
Working on a project or studying for an upcoming test could be difficult, and trying to just brute force cram it without any breaks actually kills your productivity fast.
This is why this technique is so powerful, because it gives yourself a break so you can absorb and work better after. In case you’re wondering, Pomodoro means ‘Tomato’ in Italian. This is a time management technique that breaks your work cycle into different intervals, which is traditionally 25 minutes in length, and then a 5-10 minute break after.
Once your break is over, then you repeat the cycle again. Repeat a few intervals, then take a long break. Here’s a simple but detailed explanation on how to do it:
1 Pomodoro includes a focused work and a break time. You can choose how many pomodoros before a long break, but it is recommended to be around 3 or 4 pomodoros.
Personally, I like this technique and practice it on a regular basis as it helps me to focus better knowing that there are breaks in between. I keep to a 3 cycle pomodoro before a long break too.
I have used this technique and it helps me to really focus because I know there will be breaks in between. I like to keep it to 3 cycle before a long break as well too.
2) Music To Concentrate - Brain.FM
I used to be someone who loved to study in pure silence, but I realised that the power of music has helped me to improve my productivity as well.
Of course, not all music works well for everyone. Playing loud music with lyrics are typically avoided when you're trying to focus and I usually opt for more ‘background’ or instrumental music as my preferred choice.
I actually subscribe to a service called Brain.FM as they've developed music based on some thorough research to help you in various scenarios such as to focus, relax, and even sleep. If you’re interested in seeing the science, you can view it here.
In fact, I’m actually using the Brain.FM app for my music while writing this article!
Brain.FM is a paid service that costs $6.99/month or $49.99/year, with a 3 day free trial if you sign up from their main website. However, using my referral code gives you a 1 month free trial if you sign up under my code.
Not sure what I get since I already have a lifetime access to Brain.FM though, so it actually helps you more if you sign up through the link! In case you don’t want to pay, some other ideas is actually searching for work music or productivity music on Youtube or Spotify.
There are tons of musics from different channels that are designed for productivity, so find one that has a genre that suits your taste. Just make sure there are no vocals!
3) Keep It Organised & Plan Your Day - Notion
Here’s one tool that I use quite consistently when it comes to planning, Notion.
It is one of the tools where you can do everything from taking down notes, organising your day, storing vital information and more. If you've used Trello, Asana or Evernote before, Notion combines the best of these tools in my opinion.
This tool is especially good when you are collaborating with team members for your work, or if you are trying to complete a school project as you can work together in real time.
Notion is one of the tools that I use for many things including writing down my thoughts and ideas, and scheduling what needs to be done for the day. Plus, it is compatible with all the different devices as well so I can access my information on the go.
By being organised, I get way more productive with my day’s work.
4) Turning Off Notifications
One thing that really kills your productivity is notifications, especially on your phone.The moment one notification pops up, you swipe it. Then it leads to Facebook.Then you go into swiping your newsfeed, and then clicking on random links and watching videos...
Then you realised that you wasted 1 hour of your time.
What I do is turn off ALL notifications except the important ones like Grab, Foodpanda, productivity apps, calendar, Google maps & phone calls.
Also, I understand that some of you need to answer people instantly on WhatsApp or other communication platforms because of work, so you can leave those on if you need to be contactable.
But for apps that disrupt you like social media, turn them off.
- Notifications are uncontrolled interruptions from your real goals and what you need to do. Your phone should be a tool, and not your boss.
- Brain science behind learning requires sustained focus to trigger myelin growth around active neural pathways, which is what brain plasticity is about. In short, interrupting this process constantly with notifications makes you not lock in what you are learning as you’ll never get the Myelin growth.(Cheem, right? But that’s science for you!)
- Seeing all those red dots from unread notifications can cause anxiety, leading to health problems like heart disease. Mild anxiety was shown to increase mortality rate by 20% over a 10 year period.
In short, your phone is a tool, not your boss. Don’t let it control your entire day, but take control of it instead. If this is too extreme, then turn on ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode when you want to be productive and it’ll essentially do the same thing.
Also it helps if you turn off notifications on your computer too because the same thing applies.
Here’s how you can do so for all devices:
5) Have A Good Environment (Switch)
Your environment plays a big part in getting your work done.
Many people think that working from home means you can work from your bed too, which absolutely means you get nothing done and fall asleep eventually.
So here are some quick tips to improve your environment and maximising your productivity especially if you’re working from home!
- Wake up at the same time as you’re going into work. Or rather, just wake up earlier so that you have some time to go through your morning routine instead of jumping out of bed and straight into work. Here’s why it will help you in the long run.
- Get out of your PJs and into something more suitable and comfortable. Like what they say, dress for success.
- Have a separate working environment. If you have another room or desk, treat that as your working area instead. Separating your personal life and work life is important for your mental health while maintaining your sanity and productivity.
- While you’re at it, declutter your work desk. If you can too, declutter the space around your work environment as well. Less clutter = more productivity.
In case working from home isn’t from you, you can try working from outside. But with the current pandemic restrictions, it may be hard to find a place where you can sit long to do work like Starbucks. Plus, with the reduced capacity in store, it is almost impossible to get a seat.
I actually recently discovered this new pay-per-minute service called Switch where you can access co-working pods or co-working space. It’s pretty much like Circles.Life where it’s really a no-contract space for you to work in!
These pods are in malls, where you get your space, personal wifi and plug for about $3.60/hour. You’re charged per-minute, so you only pay for what you use.
These are definitely great if you were considering working from a cafe, but don’t want the noise or risk of being chased away. (And also the fear of your belongings getting stolen when you need the toilet 👀)
6) Kill Your Social Media Feed (Newsfeed Eradicator)
One thing for sure, Social Media like Facebook kills workplace productivity. If you feel like you’re constantly doing overtime because you can’t finish your work, this may be one reason why.
If turning off your notifications haven’t already stopped you from accessing your social media, then you’ll definitely need another tool for a ‘just in case’
This tool essentially just removes your newsfeed and replaces it with an inspirational quote. How this works is that when you see this, you just go, ‘Oh s- I should be working/studying now instead of surfing Facebook!’. Bam, back to productivity!
This tool also helps if you have an addiction to Twitter and Reddit as well as it also works with those 2 platforms.
7) Use Lastpass for your passwords
I actually covered the topic on security last August on the blog, and I recommended using Lastpass to remember your password. If you’re wondering if this app is safe or not, you can read my review of it here. (Tip: Using the same password on every website isn’t safe anyway)
These days, we have so many passwords with different variations on different websites. Trying to remember which is which could probably kill you if you try to remember them all. Even if you could, it isn’t efficient for your brain space.
This tip is very simple, the less time trying to remember which password you used on which website, the faster you can get what you wanted done.
Bonus Tip: Get Unlimited Data!
I have lost count of the number of times where Circles.Life Unlimited Data saved me when I couldn’t find WiFi, or my WiFi was down. Having Unlimited Data was a backup that helped me stay productive because it allowed me to work anywhere, even at places where WiFi is non-existent.
One thing I like best about Unlimited Data is that you don’t need to constantly check how much data you use, just because it’s unlikely you’ll even use it all.
Hopefully these tips would help you with your productivity for your work or study sessions.
Personally, these tips I recommended really helped me get a lot more done everyday. Do consider experimenting with these ideas bit by bit if implementing everything is too overwhelming at one time! Go forth and be productive my friends ❤️