Manage Your Distractions

Be Productive – Manage Your Distractions

beproductive.ie consultant Moira Dunne features again as Expert Adviser on the Microsoft blog. This month she gives advice on how to Be Productive – Manage Your Distractions. Click here to read the full article:

https://blogs.business.microsoft.com/en-ie/2017/08/23/managing-your-distractions/

ManagE your Distractions

As a business owner you value every minute of every day and you know how to get things done. You can respond quickly to customer requests and solve new problems as they arise.

Today’s technology really helps us achieve this. Who could have imagined the flexibility we would possess in a small device that can fit in our pockets. So our working lives have changed but have we changed how we work to reflect this? How can we manage distractions?

Attention Management

We used to talk about time management but nowadays the discussion has switched to attention management. We are dealing with new circumstances that require new techniques and behaviours. This sounds daunting but with a few simple changes we can control what we work on, minimise distractions and make sure we are productive.

1. Take Control

The first step is to decide that you want to change. Are you prepared to do things differently? Will you be tough on yourself?

The key to taking control of your distractions is to know what they are. To gather some real data keep a Timelog for a few days or a week. This may sound like a laborious task but you will be amazed what you discover about where your time is spent.

2. Manage YOUR Distractions

Your data will probably show you that technology is not the only distraction, people are too. This can include clients, staff, colleagues and external callers.

Human Distractions

Let’s take people first.

They can distract us: 1) because of the noise they make, 2) because they sometimes offer a fun alternative to our current work or 3) because they ask us to do something we hadn’t planned.

Here are some tips to manage these distractions:

  • When you work in an open plan office, find a quiet place to focus on important work, a meeting room or an empty office
  • If you have your own office and operate an open-door policy for your team, occasionally ask not to be interrupted. If this doesn’t suit your company culture, spend some time working at home.
  • On occasion when you are asked to do new unplanned work, don’t always say yes. Negotiate based on your priorities and their priorities

Find the correct balance between saying yes and saying no. Use your judgement, always reassessing what is best for your business. But in the pursuit of high productivity, be careful not to damage your working relationships.

Digital Distractions

Technology can push information into our lives whether we want it or not. The list of things that demand our attention is long: social media alerts, Emails, phone calls, text messages. We know this but we feel we can’t stop it.

Today’s “always on” digital culture means we can end up working in a very reactive mode, allowing others dictate our work. We can turn these alerts off but it is often easier to leave them on. We are also inquisitive by nature and we have a fear of missing out if we are not in touch.

The trick is to be strategic. Don’t give all mobile alerts the same priority. Should a “like” on Twitter distract you as much as an Email from an important client?

When you need to really focus on a task switch off your phone or hide it out of sight so you won’t be tempted to check. You can’t always do this but there may be key times in your week when you can.

The term “digital detoxification” has been coined to describe this because it is not easy. So strike a balance – be switched on when you need to be and recognise the times when you don’t.

We have lots of great tips in other posts on how to manage your Email efficiently, click here to read more.

3. Manage Your Attention

Sometimes we feel unproductive even when we have created uninterrupted time to focus on important work. Our productivity is affected by our ability to concentrate. To maintain concentration and energy levels you need to be mindful of: 1) what you eat, 2) whether you take breaks and 3) how much you rest or sleep.

When we run our own business we often compromise these factors. But if you are aware of their impact on productivity it can motivate you to make small adjustments. Even a 15 minute walk at lunch time can help maintain focus for the afternoon. Choosing a reasonably healthy snack can help power through a tough meeting.

It is also important to recognise when you are losing focus so you can quickly get back on track. These pointers can help you develop this habit:

  1. Decide what you want to work on and for how long
  2. Use frequent checkpoints to see if you are still working to plan
  3. If not make a note of what has distracted you
  4. If possible eliminate that distraction so you can return to your plan

Be Productive

So be productive – manage your distractions. When you make changes it can be hard to stick at it. If you find it hard stop and ask yourself why you can’t maintain the change. Then tweak things to suit your work environment better. Best of luck! Let us know below how you get on.

Productivity Tips Business Owners

Productivity Tips Business Owners

As a business owner you are used to working hard. But is your hard work focused on the correct goals for your business? Are you clear about what your goals should be? And even with clear goals, how can you stick to those goals while responding to your customer’s needs? Read on to learn about our productivity tips business owners.

Productivity Tips for Business owners

The challenge is to work smart and be productive. There are simple but effective changes you can make to achieve this. So here are some ideas to get you started.

1)Decide You Want to Take Control

The first step in any change process is the commitment to do things differently. Aim to protect your time for productive work. Be prepared to challenge yourself and your team. This can mean saying no to enjoyable distractions like social media alerts. It can mean pushing yourself to spend more time on the tougher tasks you sometimes avoid.

2)Know Your Environment

And to optimise how you work you need to know how you work. Understand your environment, your challenges and your distractions. What work gets priority, which customers get the most attention, what response time is expected? What percentage of work can be anticipated and therefore planned? When do you work most productively? Is it the same time every day?

You can do this by simply reflecting at the end of each day. But by using a more structured approach, like keeping a TimeLog every day for a week, you can gain further insights. The data you gather will help you decide what needs to change to improve your productivity. Here is a link to our Be Productive TimeLog template.

3)Set Priorities for Your Business

To be truly productive, you need to be clear about what is important for your business. What are you trying to achieve; what are the priorities? Does everything link back to the overall vision and strategy?

By using the SMART approach to objective setting you can ensure that all planned work is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timed. This can provide a purpose for every task list or project plan and clarity for everyone on your team. Read more about prioritising here.

4)Get Organised and Plan Your Week

Once you are clear about what needs to be done, develop a plan to achieve it. Have a yearly plan which feeds into the monthly, weekly and daily plans. Make your weekly plan on a Friday afternoon or first thing Monday morning. Use a “To Do” list if you find it useful but make sure it connects to your schedule so that tasks on the list are actioned and most importantly, completed.

Schedule the week using a structured approach that best suits your business and your customers. Different techniques such as batch working or timed working can help to maximise efficiency and productivity. Here is a link to our Be Productive Weekly Planner template.

5)Manage Email, Meetings and Distractions

Your TimeLog data will identify the activities that consume most time in your week.  Emails and meetings tend to be top of most lists while interruptions from colleagues can also eat into your time.

So here are some e-mail productivity tips to consider:

  • Working with email notification constantly switched on can result in the day being controlled by other people’s priorities. There will be days when you need to be constantly in touch. But ask yourself are there other days or time blocks when you can check your emails at planned intervals only.
  • Actively manage your meetings to increase the chance of productive outcomes by using a meeting process. This can include: 1) preparation beforehand, 2) use of a timed agenda during the meeting and 3) post meeting follow-up of actions agreed
  • Eliminate or reduce as many distractions as possible, even if sometimes those distractions are a welcome change from tougher tasks. But remember to be diplomatic when colleagues or clients are involved!

For more detailed advice on this check out our Email, Meetings & Managing Distractions productivity articles here:

Take Control of Your Inbox

Productive Meeting Skills

Tips to Maintain Your Focus

6)Develop New Skills and Techniques

Keep improving to make sure you stay productive in this ever changing world. Nowadays there are lots of free apps available that promote efficiency and collaboration such as Microsoft OneNote. Do some research or talk to colleagues and peers to get recommendations. Make sure you are using your desktop applications as efficiently as possible by learning relevant time-saving functionality and features.

7)Review, Analyse and Repeat

To maintain control of your time and sustain any improvement in productivity, it is important to review and analyse what you have achieved. Return to the Timelog to track what worked and what didn’t. Compare back to the baseline data you collected at the start. Improvements gained from protected blocks of time and fewer distractions can include: reduced email processing, shorter meeting times, higher task completion, increased output and productivity.

Be Productive

In conclusion, these business owner productivity tips won’t work every day or in every business. But I encourage you to take the ideas and develop improvements that will work for you. Send us some feedback in the Comments and keep checking this blog for more detailed articles over the coming months on many of the topics discussed above.

Be Productive after a Holiday

5 Ways to Be Productive After a Holiday

We spend a lot of time throughout the year trying to be as productive as possible. So we need to make sure we also get enough holiday and down time to balance this. And while switching off is fantastic, the benefit can be ruined by our struggle to get back up to speed when we return to work. We examined what we could do to makes sure we could be productive after a holiday.

Busy Week Before You Go

The week before a holiday is often the busiest week of the year. We actually become super-productive as we crack through our To Do list in an attempt to clear everything before we leave. We want to make sure that we have communicated with everyone and tied up any loose ends.

Holiday Blues after You Return

In contrast the first few days back from holiday can often be our least productive days. We find it really hard to tune back into our work. We can feel demotivated. We may still wish we were away and we don’t feel ready to resume the normal hectic pace. Even if we are happy to be back it can be hard to get our brains into gear. All those projects, details and issues that were so clear before we left can seem very blurred the first few days back.

So how can we take control and be productive after our holiday?

1. Capture Everything Before You Leave

Spend time thinking about the first couple of days back before you finish up. At this point you are really tuned into the finer details of every project or issue so this is the best time to record as much detail as you can. Prepare notes for meetings, jot down key points for reports, make draft plans for things your need to tackle that first week back. Expect to forget most of the knowledge in your head –  that is the purpose of your holiday after all!

2. Strategically Schedule Your First Days Back

Some people like to ease back into things with a low key schedule but I find the opposite works best for me.  I arrange a couple of key meetings so that I kick start myself back into a productive mode quickly. I don’t welcome this approach on the first morning back but by the end of the day I am glad.

Consider what works best for you, your role and your environment. But be prepared to challenge yourself if you need to. Try our Weekly Planner template to help you map out that first week back.

3. Capitalise on Your Relaxed Mind

If you have successfully switched off during your holiday your mind will probably be free from all the usually stress and clutter. Some of the best ideas come to mind when you can see things more clearly and objectively. So use this unique state of mind to do some creative thinking and planning. But be careful: you can sometimes be too free-thinking and unrestrained that first day back. Make sure you don’t upset anyone by speaking too openly or honestly!

4. Resume Your Routines

It can take some time to get back into productive habits when you first return. If you exercise on a regular week day try to resume the first day back to work. Enable your healthy eating habits by ensuring you have time to visit the supermarket before your first day back to set yourself up for a healthy week. Here are some tips about what foods you can eat to boost productivity What You Eat Affects Your Productivity

5. Be Nice To Yourself

If you can reward yourself for your productive return to work with an early finish time the first few days.  Maintain some of your holiday buzz by doing something you really enjoy like a cinema trip, a treatment or a (healthy!) meal out.

So have a great holiday and let me know if any of these tips work for you. And of course please share your own ideas and tips in the Comments below.

Main Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash

Be Productive Surprisingly Sunshine Can Help

Be Productive – The Sunshine Can Help!

Be Productive Surprisingly Sunshine Can Help

We are experiencing some fantastic weather this week in Ireland.  Here is a photo I took earlier at my local beach. The weather forecasters promise it’s going to last for a few days but in Ireland we are always a bit reluctant to believe them. The temptation is to down tools, stop work and get outside to make the most of it. Hopefully some of you have the flexibility to do that but many won’t be able to take time off at short notice.  But I bet you are already making plans to adjust your schedule so you can squeeze in some time to enjoy the sunshine. You may be getting up an hour earlier to take a walk on the beach, or starting earlier so you can finish early. Maybe you prefer to take a long lunch break and work later in the evening to allow for it.

CLEAR GOAL

But take a look at what’s happening.  Because you have a clear, tangible goal (i.e. get out into the sunshine) you much more ffocusedand productive while you are in work.  Have you set a deadline? Are you getting through more work in a shorter space of time? How are you achieving this?

Well a number of things may be happening:

  1. You are not allowing yourselves be distracted so easily
  2. You prioritise the items that are a real priority for today
  3. We take more control of our time and don’t let others distract us

PRIORITISE

And you know these are 3 great habits to use during a regular week (i.e. when it’s lashing rain and there is no rush to get home!!). Set a goal, decide a plan to achieve it, really focus when working on it, don’t let other people or things distract you and really enjoy yourself when you succeed. For more tips read our article on Planning & Prioritising in Business.

So what are you waiting for, stop reading articles online and get out into that sunshine! As ever please share any of your ideas, tips or tools in the Comments below.

If you would like further information on being productive or wish to book a Be Productive training session, please contact Moira or Ann on our Contact Form.

Be Productive Meetings Checklist

Be Productive – Meetings Checklist

At beproductive.ie we help organisations improve their productivity by providing practical training, advice, tips and tools. Meetings take up a lot of time and can really affect our productivity. So we have created a Be Productive Meetings Checklist to help make your meetings more productive.

Be Productive Meetings Checklist

BEFORE

First of all it is important to spend some time planning your meeting.

  • Invite those with a role to play (participate, learn, inform)
  • Ask for input on agenda topics
  • Circulate the agenda with any pre-reading or reference documents

DURING

Then actively manage the meeting as it takes place.

  • Set the meeting expectations
  • Agree ground rules *
  • Nominate a note-taker
  • Encourage participation from all
  • Don’t dominate the discussion
  • Keep on track, park long discussions
  • Ensure key decisions and actions are recorded
  • Recap to gain commitment & assign actions
  • Review what worked well /what didn’t
  • Thanks people for their time and contribution

* The ground rules can be as simple as switching off phones or not bringing laptops to the meeting.

AFTER

Finally make sure you maximise the good work done in the meeting by following up afterwards on actions, decisions and unresolved issues.

  • Circulate actions
  • Follow up on any parked discussions
  • Resolve any issues that emerged

Click here for a copy of our Be Productive Meetings template. For more meeting tips read our article Make Meetings Productive.

If you would like further information on Productivity or wish to book a Be Productive training session, please contact Moira or Ann on our Contact Form.

Main Photo by Climate KIC on Unsplash

Productivity Training SMES

Productivity Training for SME’S

At beproductive.ie we provide Productivity Training SMES. We train business owners and their employees on the principles, techniques and tools for working smarter and being productive. As a result businesses can immediately make changes in their daily work routine to improve productivity in a measurable way.

Productivity Training SMES

Many large organisations ensure maximum return on investment in their systems and their employees with productivity programmes.  But for many smaller businesses, processes have evolved organically from the startup phase. Consequently these processes may never have been optimised for maximum productivity.

Productivity Improvement

But efficient processes are easy to design and quick to implement. Productivity is improved while also reducing employee frustration and stress. We encourage employers to involve their employees in the design and implementation of any improvements as they are closest to the processes.

We offer many different training options which can all be customised to suit your individual needs:

Team Productivity Improvement Project

Engage employees, provide them with tools and planning skills to make small incremental changes to how they work. Consequently achieve improved business outcomes and results.

This programme can:  1) provide measurable improvements in productivity, 2) foster a culture of continuous improvement and 3) decrease employee frustration by improving processes and reducing barriers to productivity.

Here is a description of the programme:

  • Productivity Training Session on the principles, techniques and tools for working smarter and being productive
  • Team Workshop to brainstorm where improvements can be made
  • Team Action Planning
  • Plan Implementation with Mentoring Support
  • Plan Review
  • Continuous Improvement Plan
  • Organisational Change Advice

At beproductive.ie we have experience of large private and public sector organisations as well as startups and small enterprises. We tailor our offering for the exact requirements of each business, each sector and each company culture.

Productivity Training SMES

So contact us today to tell us about your business.

Be Productive – Use Smart Email Tools

When I ask people in business what stops them being productive they mostly say, “Dealing with all my EMAIL!”  It’s reassuring to know that Email is a shared problem but how can businesses get on top of it?

In a previous article we looked at ways to “Take Control of Your Inbox” by: 1) choosing when to check Email and 2) using a process to sort messages quickly.

Productive Email ManagementClick here to read the full article. http://beproductive.ie/index.php/productive-take-control-inbox-2/

But why stop there? Let’s look at some of tools available in Microsoft Outlook that can help businesses work smarter. This article takes a look at Rules, Colour Coding and Quick Parts.

We also look at smarter Email structure and practices that can reduce the time employees spend processing Email. There is no magic solution but with some effort and imagination teams can use these ideas to collectively come up with ways to use their time more productively.

Smart Email Tools

1. Use Rules for Decision Making and Filing

The Rules functionality can be used to automatically process Emails. You set conditions that an Email meets and a certain action is taken. That may sound complex but with a little practice and testing, rules can be mastered quickly. Most rules either: 1) organise messages or 2) notify you of their arrival. An example rule is “to move messages from a Newsletter subscription into a Newsletter folder”.

These Emails don’t require immediate action but their arrival can often interrupt our focus on priority tasks. By using a rule you can ignore them until you chose to read them. Low priority tasks can be scheduled into a short gap in your calendar or when your energy levels are low. The rule helps you take control and use your time productively.

Rules can be created to suit how you work. Here are some ideas:

  • Identify Emails from your most important clients and send them to the top of your Inbox.
  • Move all meeting invitations to a “Meeting Invites” folder for easy retrieval
  • Email from certain people stays in your Inbox while all other mail is moved to specified folders (this rule is not for the faint hearted, but a version of it could work for you)

Top Tip: Don’t forget about Emails that have been filed automatically. Check regularly.

2. Use Colour Coding to Prioritise

Emails can be categorised using colour coding to help visually sort and prioritise them. This ensures that important Emails stand out and don’t get overlooked. A colour can be assigned based on The Sender or text in the Subject line. You can also colour code based on the location of your name i.e. in the To, Cc or Bcc field.

Top Tip: Don’t overuse this tool or your Inbox can look like a rainbow!

3. Use Quick Parts to Save Time

Quick Parts in Microsoft Outlook is a simple tool that allows you reuse a standard block of text that is used repeatedly such as a project scope statement, a product description or a Company Mission statement.

A block can be saved from text in an Email. To retrieve the saved text in a new Email simply type the first few words of the block and press enter to accept the suggested text.

Smart Email Practices

A lot of unproductive time is spent reading through Emails to decide what response is required. Try these techniques to work smarter together so that your outcomes and results are more beneficial to the business.

When making changes that effect a team of people it is important to get together and collectively brainstorm the best approach.

1. Email Structure – Clarify Actions

Rounds of clarification Emails can be avoided by clarifying what you want your readers to do. By using the simple checklist of what, why, who and when you can structure longer complex messages in a way that removes any uncertainty.

Top Tip: Avoid offending colleagues by using language that is too instructional. Involve them in agreeing the new Email structure.

2. Email Structure – Use Purposeful Subjects

If a message is very short you can actually type it in the Subject line itself! This saves a couple of extra clicks to open and close the message. As above, I recommend discussing this in advance with your colleagues so they don’t find your new approach annoying!

Here are some examples where the Subject line can be used for a short message:

  • Action: Review attached report by Friday
  • Project Y: Meeting 1pm tomorrow, Board Room
  • FYI on Project X: No Response Req.

Some people also use acronyms like NRR “no reply required” to make expectations really clear. Try to come up with acronyms related to your own business to save Email processing time.

Other things to consider

Generally the more Emails we send the more we receive. To reduce your Email volumes consider other options. While Email is invaluable for sharing facts, reports or group updates, sometimes a phone call or a desk visit is a better option, particularly if you need to exchange opinions, feelings or thoughts.

Some companies have gone as far as introducing Email free times to give their employees uninterrupted time slots for deep concentrated work. Can you and your team come up with some ideas to collectively reduce Email processing time.

Be Productive

I hope you find a way of applying these ideas within your business. It is never easy to adopt new ways but try to persist until the changes stick. Let us know what work and what doesn’t. And of course please share any of your own tips in the comments below.

For more information or details about our Email Management workshops please contact me at moiradunne@beproductive.ie

Be Productive – Take Control of Your Inbox

The Email Problem

It happens to us all. We arrive in the office and make a plan for the day. But first we check our email and the next thing we know its lunchtime. Sound familiar? Our intentions are good, “I’ll just clear some emails so I can really focus on my plan for the day”. But of course those messages keep arriving because most emails we send prompt a response.

Our email work may have cleared key items off our task list but it may not. That is the first problem – working on email this way is reactive rather than planned. We can become slaves to our email accounts and often end up working on other people’s priorities instead of our own.

The second problem is that unless we actively manage our emails they accumulate so that we end up with thousands in our Inbox. Important information can get lost and the constant arrival of new messages can result in missed deadlines or actions contained in previous messages.

New Approach to Email

So how can we develop some good email habits, take control and reduce some of that email management stress? The first step is to change the way we view our Inbox.

Reading email without making decisions is not a productive use of time. Email management requires a workflow and a process.  The Inbox should be viewed as a conveyer belt.  As new emails arrive aim to read them quickly so that a decision can be made on what action needs to be taken.

3 Steps to Take Control of Your Inbox

Then follow these three steps:

  1. Organise your Inbox
  2. Use a Process to Manage your Email
  3. Control When You Work on Email
  1. Organise Your Inbox

It is important to get organised before you adopt a new approach. Set up folders so you have a place to move your messages as you make decisions.  You can create Reference Folders for messages you wish to keep and Working folders for messages that require further action or follow up.

The Working Folders can include folders like Scheduled, Delegated or Awaiting Information. The Reference folders should reflect the way you work (i.e. key projects or customers). But don’t over complicate this, many people just work with one Reference or Archive folder and avail of the powerful Search and Sort functionality in Microsoft Outlook to find their messages.

  1. Use a Process to Manage your Email

Actively manage your emails as you read each one and decide what action is required. Then move each message to the correct folder. The process is Read, Decide and Move.

Read and Decide

Read the email quickly to decide whether it requires further action or not.

Move

Then move the email as follows:

  1. No Further Action required – Delete it or File it

2) Further Action required – Do It, Task It or Pass It On

  1. Do It – If a response will takes 2 minutes or less
  2. Convert to a Task – If more than 2 minutes is estimated, schedule a task in your calendar or task list to complete at a later time
  3. Pass it On – Forward messages to others if the request is something you are unable to do or it is something you can delegate. Include your reasons for passing the message on.

Guidelines for Processing Email

  • Aim to process each email once only
  • Work through your messages systematically in the order they arrive
  • Don’t cherry pick the interesting ones as other important messages may get overlooked

 Control When You Work on Email

To do this you need to switch off your email notifications.  This can enhance productivity because every switch away from what you are working on to check an email interrupts focus. And it can take up to four minutes to regain that focus.  So if you eliminate even 15 email interruptions a day, you can gain an hour of focussed time. If you do this for a week, you can gain five extra hours.

That sounds fantastic but it can be hard to work without ongoing email alerts or checks. We can feel uncomfortable because we are used to being in touch. In fact our work environment and culture may demand it. But use your judgement. Are there routine days when you could try this new approach even for specific blocks of time?

3 times a day works well for lots of people. Spend 15 minutes maximum checking first thing in the morning. Then schedule time to process your email before lunch and again towards the end of the day.  If that doesn’t seem frequent enough, add in a short timed mid-morning and mid-afternoon check.

Measurement

When you introduce a change to your work practice it is important to measure any improvement. So before you start, track how much time you spend managing your email. Then try your new approach for 30 days and measure your email management time again. Try also to note improved productivity due to the reduced distraction from email.

 Don’t Stop There

Once you have reduced your email management time you can further increase your productivity by using email tools and techniques available in Microsoft Outlook such as:

  1. Rules to Reduce Decisions and Filing
  2. Colour Coding and Flags to Prioritise
  3. Auto text and Templates to automate routine text entry
  4. Purposeful Actions and Subject lines

I will be writing about these topics next month so check back then if you want to make further improvements.

Be Productive

These tips may not suit everyone’s style or every work place. But be productive, take the ideas and modify them to suit your own environment. Let me know how it goes and of course I would love to hear any other techniques and tips that have worked for you.

Study Desk

Be Productive – 8 Exam Study Tips

The Leaving Certificate and Junior Certificate exams are nearly here. The exam students will soon finish school and start studying on their own. This is a really important time that has a big impact on how well the exams  will go in June. But it can be hard to stay focused and keep concentrating day after day.

Successful students have good study habits. Here are 8 top tips on how to be productive while studying.

  1. Declutter Your Study Space

Your study space should be quiet, bright and comfortable. It should make you feel happy and inspired. Decide the best space in your house that will work for you. Then clear out as much clutter as possible. Decorate your space with a few of your favourite pictures or objects. Make sure that your chair and desk are comfortable and at the correct height as you will be spending a lot of time here.

  1. Get Organised Before You Start

Gather up all the stationery you are going to need over the coming weeks. Avoid wasting time popping into the shops during your study periods. Treat yourself to some new pens, notebooks, cue cards, Post-It pads and highlighter pens. Chose a variety of bright colours to liven up your study space. These colours will also be useful for categorising and grouping topics while you study.

  1. Make a Study Plan You Can Stick To

It is so important to make a plan before you start any studying. Work out how many days you have before the exams start. Plan which subjects you will study on each day. Vary things up so you don’t get fed up of one subject. Break down big topics into smaller chunks so you feel you are getting something completed in one study session.

Be realistic about how much you can do in the time you have. If there is too much, you may need to focus on the most important topics first. List everything and mark each with a priority – high, medium or low.

  1. Start Early in The Day

You have your preparation done, so now you are ready to start a regular study routine. Generally it works best to start studying early in the day. Your energy will be high and it is easier to concentrate. If it helps, get some exercise beforehand but don’t spend too long in case you become side-tracked.

Some people prefer to study later in the day and into the evening. This is fine but remember it can really affect your quality of sleep, which will have a knock on effect for the days to come.

  1. Put Distractions in Another Room

My 15 year old daughter told me to include this one! She said that if her phone is beside her, even on silent, she will be tempted to check it. So remove ANYTHING that will distract you. That may include technology and people! Music may help you study but be honest with yourself and only listen if it improves your concentration.

  1. Make Notes and Test Yourself

Be active when you are studying. This means instead of just reading you are keeping your brain focussed by doing things such as:

  • Highlighting key passages
  • Making notes to summarise key points
  • Making signs for your wall with key terminology or phrases
  • Drawing a graphic for a Maths equation
  • Creating quick reference notes on cue cards for the night before the exam
  • Jotting down questions to test yourself at the end of a session or to recap next day

Can you think of some other ideas that will suit the way you work?

  1. Eat Power Foods and Drink Water

Be smart about what you eat and drink during this study period. It may be tempting to eat comfort food and reward yourself with sugary or fatty snacks. But your focus and concentration is really affected by what you eat. You will also sleep better if you eat a healthy diet. Drink lots of water too during this time.

Try some of these  healthy snack ideas:

  • Blueberries, Dark Chocolate, Popcorn, Hummus, Avocado
  • Peanut Power Balls, Granola Snack Bars

Save your favourite treats for your time off after studying.

  1. Take Time Off and Sleep Well

Aim to study at the same time every day and then take breaks at the same time too. Plan your favourite activities with friends and family so you can completely switch off. This will help you wind down and sleep better. Get some exercise too.

Your Own Ideas

These tips will help you be productive with your study time. You might already have things that help you. Find what works for you and stick to it.

Remember, you only have to work hard for a few more weeks. So why not really go for it? And before you know it, the exams will be over and you will have the whole summer to enjoy. Best of luck!

If you want a Be Productive Infographic of these  8 Study tips click below:

Be Productive – 8 Study Tips Infographic

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