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One of the biggest bottlenecks you face as a student is how much you can actually write. That can put a real crick in your plans, particularly if you’re trying to write essays on different subjects at the same time and have other things that you need to do besides.
Fortunately, there are ways to widen that bottleneck. Here we’re going to cover 10 of them so that you’ve got a wide range of choice as to what you’ll do to make yourself more productive.
First and foremost, stop flittering back and forth between different tasks and focus on one task. Sure, it might feel like you’re being more productive, but all you’re being is more busy. What’s more, there is actual research that seems to suggest that the very act of multitasking makes you stupider – both in terms of the task you’re doing and overall.
Okay, it’s hard. Often you suddenly need something online for when you’re writing your essay. Then you get distracted and before you know it you’re doing something else.
What works well for me is when I divide my writing into three phases. The first phase is where I look up the information that I need to write my essay about. I find it helpful to open a separate internet browser and keep all the relevant e-book pages there so that I don’t get distracted by other content. The second step, when you’ve got all you think you need, is to start writing.
Of course, often it will become clear that you don’t have everything you need. In that case, simply highlight those sections. Then, in the third stage, go and find the extra bits of information that you need.
If you follow this strategy you’ll use your time far more effectively.
If you write a lot I’m sure you’ve experienced that sensation called flow. It’s when the world drops away and you just focus entirely on the task at hand. It’s fleeting, it’s fragile, it’s (at least in my case) rare, but man, does it feel good?!
It’s also immensely productive. So take steps to protect it. One of the best ways to do so is by splitting up your editing and your writing. When you feel something isn’t working, use the procrastinator’s response. This is where when your inner critic says ‘this isn’t working’ you answer him or her with ‘yeah, but I’ll deal with that later’.
And then you just keep writing.
Even better, put a gap between when you write and when you edit. This temporal distance will also give you an intellectual difference and will mean you don’t spend a whole bunch of time editing text that’s perfectly good to begin with.
Generally, I’ll write up the first drafts of the essays I’m working on one day and then edit them the next. As I’ve got a lot of things that I need to write, this means I stay busy, while still giving myself space so that I can see the forest through the trees.
You know you shouldn’t work long, as that will undermine your productivity. At the same time, you don’t want to take too many breaks either (as that will undermine your productivity). One strategy that works well is to set breaks at specific moments. For example, give yourself a moment off when you finish a section or an essay, when you’ve edited a text well or when you’ve submitted something.
In this way, the reward will become far more enjoyable and what’s more, the chances that you’ll end up spending the whole break dwelling on what you’re supposed to be doing will be cut down drastically.
Now sometimes obviously the best thing would be if you could block the internet entirely. Sure, it’s full of piles of useful information, but more often than not that’s not what you end up looking at. Of course, blocking the internet is hard. We’ve all got Wi-Fi and turning that off doesn’t work terribly well as a single button press will generally turn it back on again.
For that reason, consider installing a blocker. There’s quite a few out there, but you could do worse than using Cold Turkey. It will block specific websites (like Netflix and social media) during the hours you select so that you can actually get on with the task that you’re supposed to do.
It can even be used to lock your computer entirely so that you can take some time off and actually get to sleep.
Sure, you could use your iron will to prevent yourself from doing all of those things. The thing is, willpower wears down. And so, wouldn’t it be better spending it on other things?
And sometimes it’s just a good idea to get help. You can use online tools that are computer generated or you can even use some of the best websites that offer editing services out there. Sure, it might put you back a few pennies, but if that means that you’ve got a high-quality piece of well-edited writing that you then don’t have to edit so that you can get on with more important things, what’s the problem? This is particularly true since prices on outsource editing have dropped significantly over the last couple of years.
Here are some services I personally use to speed up writing and editing.
And I’m not just talking about a few hours. I’m talking about getting at least a day away from the keyboard and the essay writing. For me, this is essential, both in the short and in the long term. In the short term, it means that when I come back to my writing I’m far more productive. Quite often I actually manage catch up and exceed what I didn’t do on the day I was gone, as I’m refreshed and recharged.
In the long run, it matters that you don’t burn yourself out by not giving yourself time to relax and enjoy the finer things in life. And that’s important, because what’s the point of producing that much content if you’re no longer enjoying it and you’re no longer taking the time to enjoy life?
The writing should support your life, not the other way around.
So give yourself a break, literally, and both in the long term and the short term you’ll be sure to reap the benefits.
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