I am so excited to have Sabrina from Students Toolbox share her best tips on how you can become a more productive student by tracking your time!
There are a lot of productivity hacks out there, like using the pomodoro method, making a to-do list, taking into account the priority of each task, etc. But have you ever wondered if just taking out your phone and using your timer can greatly enhance your productivity?
We suffer from a not-so-productive day mainly because (1) we don’t know what we have to do at all and do not set any plans; (2) we tend to get easily distracted; and (3) we fail to know when we are the most productive and make use of that time. Thankfully, these can all be solved by one simple action – tracking your time. In this post, I am going to tell you five reasons why tracking your time can enhance your productivity, and how exactly you can do that!
1. It helps you stay focused
Remember how productive you are when you’re in the exam hall and you only have 30 minutes left for the exam? You get so many questions done knowing that you don’t have enough time and you need to focus on the paper. The same works for any other task. Knowing that you have a time limit for a task would give you a sense of urgency that pushes you. This helps you to focus and enhance your productivity. Therefore, when starting your timer, you are less likely to get distracted and surf the internet because you know that you are supposed to focus on your task.
2. It helps you better estimate the time you need for each task
We all have the tendency to underestimate the time we need for each task. This is called the planning fallacy as proposed by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky – which indicates a phenomenon that humans generally have an optimism bias when predicting how much time will be needed to complete a task in the future.
A huge problem of underestimating our time is that we always plan way too optimistically and end up not being able to follow our plans for our projects and studies. To avoid this situation, tracking your time is the best way to show how much time you actually need for each task. For example, if you are planning to study 10 chapters before the test, you can time yourself when you study the first chapter. You may have thought that you would only need around 2 hours to go through each chapter; however, after timing yourself, you realize that you need way more than that. This would help you to better plan your study schedule before the test. It also makes your study plan both feasible and effective.
3. It helps you understand your productivity cycle
Have you ever wondered whether you are a morning or night person? Or how long your attention span is? Knowing these two things is very crucial in helping you to devise a good, suitable work and study routine for yourself.
Tracking your time is exactly how you can know more about your productivity cycle. It helps you to measure your effectiveness at different times and helps you to find out how long you can focus. For me, I find that a 25-minute work span as proposed by the Pomodoro method is too short. By tracking my time, I realize that I can focus on an average time of 45 minutes. As such, I can then plan my time in a 45-minute time block, so that I can rest at the time when I really need to.
Similarly, by knowing when you can work most effectively, you can schedule more difficult and challenging tasks at that time. If you are a morning person, for example, you can plan to study the subject you dislike the most in the morning. As you can see, by tracking your time you can devise and plan your time in the most suitable way, allowing you to complete more tasks in less time.
4. It shows you what distracts you the most and how much time you waste each day
Another important thing that lowers your productivity is distractions. We are all distracted by different things. Some people tend to day dream when they are working, some tend to go on social media or play games on their phones. Knowing what distracts you is very important because you can then make a mental note to yourself to avoid these distractions.
When tracking your time, you can record what distracts you and the time you spent on procrastinating. This helps you to see how your time is wasted (usually the amount of time would surprise you!) and how you spend that time. After knowing the things that distract you the most, you can then purposefully put them away (if it’s your phone) or block them (if it’s a website). This would help you to better focus on your task and increase your productivity.
So how should I track my time?
Now you know the benefits of tracking your time, but how can you get started? Here are some of my recommendations:
a) You can either download an app that’s for tracking time, some suggestions are Time Track.er, TimeTag, ATracker etc.
b) Alternatively, you can do time-tracking on your bullet journal or planner. Just get a timer and record the time you spend on each task.
c) Remember to also write down the time when you procrastinate and to write down what causes you to get distracted.
d) As a day ends, review the things that you have done and evaluate your productivity. Find out your own work pattern and attention span.
If you want to improve your productivity, all you have to do are these simple and easy tasks. Why not give it a try?
If you are looking for more tips to enhance your productivity, I have written some posts on:
I hope you enjoyed this post! Be sure to read more about the author and check out her website by clicking either the post links above or the image below!
About the author:
Sabrina is a third-year university student studying politics and law, as well as a college and study blogger at StudentsToolbox.com, who provides tips on studying, productivity, organization, career and lifestyle to help students excel in school and life.
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