Simple Life Hacks for Instant Productivity

The Laurier plague is in the air. The collective symphony of coughs and sneezes echo in the lecture halls as your professors attempt to cram your brain with potential questions that you could be tested on (so the entire course). Your textbooks lie neglected under your blankets from last night when you attempted to study but ended up having a Netflix marathon instead. Anyone who is anyone at university or college knows what that means. Midterm season - which is also known as the least wonderful time of the year. Well, apart from final exam season of course.

Somehow, I’m just not good at staying productive during midterm season. There’s something about having this piece of paper control a large portion of my mark that stresses me out to the point where I just don’t want to study at all. I like to blame it on the Laurier plague, but if you really think about it, it’s basically science. I call it “Sleepy Student Syndrome.” How else would you explain why so many people chill out during the times they need to work the hardest?

Luckily, there are little things you can do throughout Hell week (I mean midterm season) that can make your life a little easier and more manageable. I don’t mean read the entire textbook or write a thousand cue cards, these are simple and quick changes that can drastically improve your productivity. Just don’t procrastinate on trying them out!

1. Wake up with a quick workout

In a perfect world, we would be waking up at the crack of dawn and whipping out our calculators and colour-coded notes to review. In reality, studying makes us sleepy so we justify our ten-hour naps by convincing ourselves that it will give us magical productivity powers. It’s a vicious cycle to break out of. But on a side note, have you ever noticed that when you’re working out, you aren’t as tired? This is because you’re engaging your muscles and your endorphins are giving you energy boosts. So next time that alarm goes off, I want you to get out of bed and do fifty jumping jacks or a one-minute plank. You’ll instantly feel more awake! 

2. Write down an estimate of how many hours it’ll take

It’s so easy to write a daily to-do list of twenty different tasks to complete for all your courses. But we end up fooling ourselves into thinking that we have an excessive amount of time to review for our midterms because we think we can accomplish so much in such a short span of time. The truth is, there aren’t that many hours in a day and writing a set of notes can take longer than you think. So when you pull out your agenda to plan out your week, make sure you write an estimate of how many hours each study task will take you. That way you can set attainable goals and properly allocate tasks per day for maximum efficiency!

3. Plan your meals in advance

We’re all guilty of eating way too much pizza or junk food during midterm season. But with every slice we get, our bank account balance and physical health deteriorates. On top of that, the time it takes for you to wait in line for your food could’ve been used towards actually studying. So find some easy ten-minute recipes you can make and get your grocery shopping done before the stress of exams hits you or in the days in between your midterms. Oatmeal is filling and it literally takes three minutes to make in the morning. Your health will thank you, and so will your productivity!

4. Take advantage of study apps

It’s almost impossible to put down your phone during a study session. Why on earth would you choose to look at your textbook when you could look at videos of baby corgis instead? This applies to basically everybody and if you’re not one of those people, then I’m super jealous of you. Fortunately, we don’t have to all suffer together thanks to advancing technology and innovation. There are so many mobile apps now geared towards helping students lessen the time they spend on their devices. I personally love using “Forest” - an app where users plant a virtual tree that only grows if they don’t use their phones for a certain period of time. This gamification aspect works wonders and it’s adorable seeing your little forest come together!

5. Temporary Facebook Account

Social media is frustratingly addictive. All we’re doing is mindlessly scrolling through pages of photos and posts, yet we are somehow able to spend hours doing this simple activity. But midterms are important, and sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures. If you know you’re a social media addict, than I suggest you make another Facebook account purely for midterm and exam periods. Only use this account to join academic group chats and to add your study buddies. Less people on social media means a lack of distracting posts to scroll through. I personally think that this hack takes the most amount of effort out of all of them, so if you choose to do it, I highly suggest doing it in advance to get group chat approvals before midterms hit.

6. Temporarily relinquish control of your Netflix account

There’s something about midterm season that makes basic tasks such as watching a Netflix series or reading another YA novel even more addicting. Shows I would never have even considered watching are suddenly extremely fascinating and by the time I need to write my midterm, I’ve somehow watched almost everything on Netflix. So, this is going to sound incredibly painful, but I dare you to have a family member or a trusted person change your Netflix password for the week. When you can’t access Netflix, you start running out of ways to procrastinate. Think of this as a reward: once you’re done all your midterms, you can binge as many series as you’d like!

7. Quizlet, Quizlet, Quizlet!

The amount of times I’ve literally crammed in a Quizlet session hours before a quiz or test is absolutely crazy. What’s even more crazy is that I somehow don’t end up completely failing. It’s not a coincidence; the Quizlet makers really know what they’re doing so props to them! Quizlet is essentially a mobile and web-based app that uses digital cue cards. Not only do they test you with individual cards, but they keep track of your weaker terms and adjust accordingly! They also have a lot of other cool features such as tests made up of the terms you inputted or multiple-choice formats to really improve your memory. So if you haven’t heard of this magical holy grail, then I highly advise you to try it out! 

If you’re still reading this article at this point, then I am so sorry for giving you another reason to procrastinate, but I’m very flattered nonetheless. Hopefully my little tips can help you with your studying struggles in the long-term - think of this as a long-term investment! Try to actually sleep, don’t drown in caffeine and remember that hell week will be over before you know it!