Work Smarter, Not Harder

By Melissa Mier, may 2, 2019

When I first got to UCSB, I used to study for hours on end. I went to all of my classes, did my homework immediately after, and juggled extracurriculars on the side. To my surprise, I didn’t get the results I was looking for. My grades were less than stellar. Let’s fast forward in time — I’m now in my senior year and I have learned a few things along the way.

My time in college has taught me that it’s not always better to work longer, but to work more efficiently. Think about it: being busy does not equate to being productive.

Here are 4 tips to stop being unnecessarily busy and start being more productive:

1. Say goodbye to being a perfectionist

We have all been there. You are in the middle of an essay and you just can’t find the right word. So you type, delete…and type some more. As you struggle to create an immaculate essay on the philosophy of love, time keeps on ticking.

The more of a perfectionist you are, the higher your risk of burnout. Burning out half way through your essay isn’t efficient.

2. Get your sleep

At a glance, it seems like common sense that sleep is important. Then why does it seem like students are practically bragging about the opposite? Enter the library during finals week and you’re bound to overhear a handful of fellow busy bees go on about how they haven’t slept in days and how they have drank thirty caffeinated Yerba Mates. It has become glamorous to live without sleep.

But all of this time spent in a caffeine-infused study bender may lead to no avail. Sleep deprivation limits our access to higher-level cognitive functions. This leaves us without logical reasoning, mathematical capacity, working memory (which leads to long term memory) and concentration.

If this isn’t enough to make you lay your head down, you might be interested in hearing this: losing an hour of sleep per night for a week will cause a level of cognitive degradation equivalent to a .10 blood alcohol level and you may not even realize it.

3. Build a morning routine

There are entire books on the impact of healthy morning routines because it has changed the lives of some of the most successful people we know (think Oprah, Steve Jobs, Barack Obama). While waking up at 5 A.M. is pretty unreasonable for the majority of college students, creating goals and having a purpose in the morning isn’t a far reach.

A study conducted at Harvard found that students with consistent wake up times had better performance through the day  even though they all got the same amount of sleep.

4. Follow the Pareto Principle

The Pareto Principle is based off of 20% of your effort producing 80% of your output. Think of what is most valuable and important to your success and act on that. What are the things you want to work on that will have the biggest impact on your day-to-day life? There is some food for thought.

Whichever best fit your needs, small changes in your habits can lead to big, positive outcomes. Nectir understands the daily struggles of a college student, from stress and time management to "just figuring things out". And when it comes to helping students save time and energy to make the most of their education, we're all for it.

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