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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UC Riverside chapter.

You’ve tried a scheduling app, you’ve tried a paper planner. You’ve set a million alarms, and you’ve got reminder after reminder on your phone to tell you when it’s time to get up, get started, and get to work. But none of it seems to be working.

You find yourself too sleepy to finish a math problem or too distracted to write that essay outline. Your roommate gets to work at 10am after her first class, but if you try to do the same you fail miserably. It’s disheartening. How can you be productive like everyone else?

The first step to productivity is to throw that out of your mind— you aren’t like anyone else! You’re you. And that means finding the best study schedule for you to keep you productive.

For a long time, I tried to plan my day from 8am to 8pm. I figured I would have classes scattered throughout the day, but I could fit in my work early and then keep the rest of the day until I went to bed for a nightly self care routine and entertainment, like watching movies and reading. I kept trying to sit down to get work done in the morning, but day after day I found myself drifting to social media or back to sleep.

For a while, I considered this a flaw in myself. I thought I must be easily distracted, lazy, or unmotivated for not getting everything done. However, I soon realized this wasn’t the case; when it came to around 7 or 8pm at night, I turned into a productivity machine. I could zoom through essays, power through math problems. I was awake and alert, and able to keep myself off social media or Netflix.

Once I realized I was more productive at night, I adjusted my schedule to fit my needs. I planned my day so I got up later, spent the day in classes, doing more entertaining things, or being lightly productive with schoolwork. Then, when it got to 7 or 8, I would buckle down and get ready for a study session. I utilized the tools that were effective to me, such as the list app To-do, and an hourly paper planner that goes late.

The most important part of being productive is listening to your needs. If you enjoy being up super early in the morning and getting to work before anyone else has even blinked awake, get up early! If you study best late at night, like me, plan your work so that you can complete it then. Just because it’s socially common to have an 8am to 10pm kind of day doesn’t mean that’s the right structure for you. I tend to be more of a 12am to 2am kind of person myself. I’ve even done some of my best work with my roommate at 3:00 am at the Denny’s on University Avenue.

Play to your strengths. The society we live in trains us to be productive, productive, productive. But self-care is more important. Listen to yourself: is it hard for you to start your day by studying? That’s fine! Watch a movie first. Are you a better worker around other people? Find a study group or ask your friends to get together to work.

The best way to be productive is to do it your own way.

Caroline Lesser

UC Riverside '24

Hiya! I'm Cal, and I'm a fourth year Creative Writing major at the University of California Riverside. In addition to writing and editing for UCR's chapter of HerCampus, I'm focusing on my honors capstone project. I love cozy video games, tea lattes, crochet, and language learning. Aside from articles, I write horror and fantasy.