Every college student knows the feeling of fatigue that can set in after writing a few too many papers or reading a few too many chapters for class. The good news is that it doesn’t take major life changes to break out of this funk. Sometimes all it takes is a little creativity – and a little trickery. Here are five ways to dupe your brain into becoming more productive.
Reboot your morning routine to boost productivity
Sometimes a few extra minutes of sleep is the best gift you can give yourself. But if you have things to do in the morning, you’re better off waking up your mind and setting the tone for a productive day. But that doesn’t mean you have to rush in the morning. Author Anne Murphy Paul suggests actually slowing down your morning routine. Set your alarm a few minutes early and lie in bed, letting your thoughts flow. Stand in the shower a little longer and dismiss any task-oriented thoughts such a,s “I need to return all of my emails by 10 a.m.” Instead, continue to let your mind wander. Take deep breaths in between sips of your morning coffee. When you’re ready to sit down and get to work, try checking out a funny Internet video before you get down to the nitty gritty. These exercises will help turn your brain on in the morning – or at least start your day off with a laugh.
Dress the part when studying from home
Whether you’re taking an online class or simply studying for one of your classes, doing schoolwork at home can be a tricky task. It might be tempting to flip on the TV for “just a few minutes,” do a little housework, or maybe even make a batch of cookies. To get in the right state of mind for studying, simply dress as though you’re headed to class or to the office. That means no pajamas or sweatpants. Putting on a button-up shirt and a nice pair of pants could help keep you focused on the task at hand – just imagine how nice it will be to change into your comfortable clothes when you’re finished.
Change your workspace when you switch tasks
Certain places in your life often trigger an emotional response. Stepping into your kitchen might put you in the mood to cook. Plopping down on a comfy couch might help you relax. With this in mind, creativity blog The 99 Percent recommends setting up specific work zones in your house for accomplishing important tasks. For example, if you have an L-shaped desk, you might use one section for studying or doing schoolwork and the other for paying bills or surfing the internet. Even if you have a limited amount of space available, simple physical cues like sliding your chair to a different part of your work surface or standing up to work can send a signal to your brain that it’s time to refocus on a new task.
Train yourself to fall asleep faster
Nothing prepares the mind for learning like a night of solid sleep. Unfortunately, your busy schedule may leave you tossing and turning each night, fretting about tomorrow’s responsibilities. If you find yourself struggling to fall asleep after 10 minutes of lying down, get up and go into another room. Stay as long as you wish and then return to your bedroom to sleep. Repeat this process as many times as necessary until you fall asleep. By following this tip from psychology website PsyBlog, you can train your mind to associate your bed with sleep, not active thinking.
Plan a reward before you start a project
Can’t seem to motivate yourself to start writing that 10-page paper for class? Try giving yourself an extra incentive to finish by building a reward into your deadline. While you work, imagine how great that new pair of shoes will look on your feet or how sweet that gourmet cupcake will taste. Even the smallest rewards can help you see the light at the end of the tunnel and keep working when you might not feel like it.