Life Hacks

Productivity Tip: Don’t force yourself

There are times when I’m really not motivated to study or do things assigned to me. I’m sure most of us experience this. For some us, we force ourselves to finish the task. I think the reason for this is that most of us think about productivity as just getting things done. That’s not the case for me though. For me, productivity has something to do with the quality of the work done as well.

Being a medical student, I am always overwhelmed with the tasks and readings I have to do. I’ve observed my classmates and they force themselves to read chapters of pathology or whatever it is that we have to read. I do not do that. When I am not motivated to do it, I stop and take a break. I read a chapter of a ficitonal book, I read wordpress blog posts, I go on Facebook… I do things that relax my mind. I don’t force myself to study when I’m not ready.

From what I’ve observed, forcing yourself to read gives you an illusion that you’ve actually learned stuff. However, during quizzes, people realize that they didn’t really understand the chapters they’ve spent hours to read. When I relax my mind, I feel brand new afterwards. My mind will accept the new information better. Aside from being able to memorize and understand things better, I also avoid burnout.

This is just my experience though but it really works for me.

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Productivity Tip: Take A Break

Fighting all the distractions around is and being productive is a struggle for all of us. I have looked for several ways to be productive, tried many life hacks and I finally found the productivity method that works best for me- the pomodoro technique.

The Pomodoro Technique

The pomodoro technique is a very simple technique. All you’re ever going to need is a timer. Any timer will do whether it is a kitchen timer or the timers on your phone. There are also several apps out there that also uses the pomodoro technique. Using the apps may be more convenient for you.

What you”re going to do is to assign a specific time for work and after that take breaks. Instead of doing tasks for long hours, cut it short and squeeze in breaks in between. Set the timer for 25 minutes. This is the time where you do your work. Here, you only pick as specific task. During the 25 minutes, you work on this task alone and nothing else. When the 25 minutes is over, take a break of at least 5 minutes. After the 5 minutes, work again. Basically, the pomodoro technique will have this cycles of work and break. After several cycles of work and break, give yourself a longer break like 15-30 minutes.I think that 25 minutes is the standard duration of a “work time” and 5 minutes for “break time”, however, you can adjust this times in your personal preference.

Why does it work me?

The main reason why pomodoro is perfect for me is I take a break anyways. I always have the tendency to check my phone, check my social media accounts, play a game in the middle of a task no matter how important it is. With the setup of pomodoro, I have allotted a time for all those distractions. Without pomodoro, there was times when I was on facebook for almost an hour. I was not able to control myself and did not go back to a task right away. With pomodoro, I can keep track of my time in the internet. So far, it really works for me. I only use my phone and do some other stuff in my designated break time. Now, when it’s work time, it’s just work time. Also, long break times is the only time that I allow myself to watch something on netflix or read a chapter of a book. With this setup, I don’t get tempted to just leave my task behind and do something else because I know that there is a time for that something else. Because of pomodoro, I get more work done.

Another reason is it refreshes my mind. Before I encountered pomodoro, I studied for long hours. After a couple of hours, I’m already exhausted and I feel like I can no longer concentrate and I can no longer retain new information. I realized that I did not really remember everything I’ve learned. I felt like my brain is already saturated. When I use the pomodoro technique, I feel like my brain has a reset button whenever I take a break. After a break, even its a short one, I feel like I’m renewed and ready for more. With this,  I can actually study longer and get more things done.

In conclusion, I can say that pomodoro actually changed my life. It helped me manage my time better and develop focus. It also enlightened me on what productivity really means. I used to think that if I spend hours in doing tasks, I was productive. Now I know that productivity is not about quantity but quality.