5 tips to increase productivity

Whether you’re studying for an exam, wading through research for a term paper or trying to complete the 200 pages of reading due tomorrow – or maybe all three at once – trying to focus on important tasks in the digital age is not easy. Constant notifications from that annoying group chat and the temptation to check Snapchat for the tenth time can keep you from completing your to-do list.

Here are five tips to increase your productivity:

1) Prioritize

Before you get to work, take a minute to write down everything you need to get done; and organize that list based on what’s most important or what is due first. Devote the most time to the hardest tasks, and set checkpoints for completing pieces of longer assignments.

Beatrice Correa ’15, a master’s student who works full-time for the Office of the President, said always keeping an agenda on hand helps her juggle assignment deadlines with her busy work schedule.

“I work best by writing things down, keeping lists and organizing what I have do so I remember everything,” Correa said. She likes to keep it old school with a pen-and-paper planner; but Google Calendar is a great tech alternative that lets users sync their calendars between their smartphones and computers.

2) Silence gadgets

If you have trouble resisting the urge to play online when you should be working, try switching your smartphone to “Do Not Disturb” to silence notifications.

Certain plugins and websites can temporarily block social media and other distracting websites while you work. Try the StayFocusd extension for Chrome or KeepMeOut.com for all browsers.

3) Read faster

If you have trouble getting through all the assigned reading in a timely fashion, you’re not alone. It’s an adjustment many college students struggle with.

At the Center for Academic Success, students can work with tutors to learn more effective reading strategies and increase comprehension. For a fee, FIU also offers the Merrill Ream Speed Reading course online through the Continuing & Professional Education department.

4) Find a quiet space

Even on FIU’s bustling campuses, there are places where you can find peace and quiet. The third and seventh floors of the Green Library at MMC and the third floor of the Hubert Library at BBC are designated quiet floors for studying; and study rooms are available for rent at both locations.

Tired of the library? Click here to read about other study spots on campus.

Finance major and part-time realtor Carlo Trabanco said finding the environment that works best for you, whether it’s outside on the grass or in a comfy chair at a coffee shop, is essential to being productive.

“Every time I have tasks I need to get done, I prioritize them by what needs to get done first and then set down every distraction around me to turn my environment into something as efficient as possible,” Trabanco said.

5) Take a break

Be sure to take breaks while you work to avoid burnout and to give your brain a chance to process what you’ve studied. Try to 90/10 rule: For every 90 minutes of studying, take a 10 minute break.

This article is part of our Secrets to Success series.