One of the greatest challenges of being a student in any level of schooling is the balance of school and the rest of life. As a recent full time graduate student, full time employee and avid adventurer, I know this struggle first hand. The task of being productive is not always as simple as it sounds and sometimes the temptation of putting the books down and picking your friends up to head off to the movies or a party is too strong to overcome. Learning how to manage your time in order to not only get your work done, but also have time for the rest of life, is a lesson in and of itself. Thankfully, through some trial and error, I’ve come up with some tried and true techniques to take in consideration for your next study session.

Learn how you study best

Some people need dead silence to read a page while others may be able to work in a crowded coffee shop and write their papers, I personally can be in an environment but I absolutely have to be listening to music without words. I was able to explore a few different pre-made online playlists before settling on one that was relaxing and not distracting. The first step to setting yourself up for productivity success is to know which environment is best for you and to create it and a big part of finding and creating your most productive environment is taking out the distractions that could ruin your productivity. Some may find it easier to turn their phone off all together, or leave their house if they have a distracting roommate or simply buy a good pair of headphones in order to focus. Try out a few different scenarios and see which environment is most conducive to your learning and continue to recreate that everytime you need to study.

Use time tracking tools

Tracking your study time is one of the most important steps you can take to best prioritize your work and your time. Procrastination is the root of a lot of student’s failure and it can easily be avoided if you prioritize your work, and set realistic goals. Luckily for all of us, there are tools that combat procrastination and can achieve academic goals. Something as simple as the clock on your phone can be used but there are apps available that can do tasks as straightforward as set reminders and alerts, to scheduling study time and breaks throughout the day or week. I always found it easier to set small timed goals for myself so I could “treat” myself with breaks throughout the day. These apps help students not only track their time spent on a project but also structure that time to make sure it’s being used in the best possible way. These apps and programs have been proven to help students prioritize their work and help eliminate wasted time.

Take care of yourself

While tips and tricks might be able to help keep your head in the game while studying, the most important part of productivity is simply feeling well rest and up to the task to get the work done. It is easy to get caught up in your job or your social life and put your own health on the back burner but this just ultimately leads to burnout and failure. In order to have the energy to complete all of life’s necessary tasks, it is vital to eat healthy and get plenty of sleep. The right nutrients in your diet will keep your energy levels high and your mind sharp while getting at least 8 hours of sleep will help you better retain information and focus better when you need to. I always made a pact with myself to never pull an all nighter and to eat a well balanced meal before a planned study sesh to make sure I was firing on all cylinders to set myself up for success.

Honing in on your time management and productivity skills will not only help you excel in school work but also in many other aspects of your life. Being a recent graduate myself, I know personally how difficult the balancing act can be between succeeding in school work and also keeping the rest of life afloat. With the challenges of being a student looming with every passing class period, it’s easy to feel as though there is so much to do in so little time, but thankfully there are easy steps to take that can make the difference between success and failure. Focus on how you best study, use the tools that are accessible to you and most importantly of all, take care of your mind and your body to keep it in tip top shape.