How To Be More Productive | Tips For Non-Traditional Students

How To Be More Productive
Santiago Mallea

Santiago Mallea

Content Writer At Gradehacker

Being a non-traditional student is hard. You have your family, a job, hobbies, friends, and of course, classes to attend. Your schedule is pretty much full, with lots of daily tasks you need to fulfill every day. 

The biggest problem is that these difficult tasks often pile up, and you feel as if the time wasn’t enough. So, you want to learn how to be more productive

And sure, you’ve already read some of the most well-known productivity tips. Write to-do lists, set goals from the start, drink a cup of coffee before starting the day, and include healthy habits in your life. 

Sure, these are helpful suggestions that can certainly help you increase your productivity levels, but you know that productive people do much more than that. You need better and more thorough tips that fit into your busy life. 

Well, here at Gradehacker, we are the non-traditional student’s most trusted resource, and we understand how important your precious time is. You already have too much on your plate, but know that there is a way you can better organize yourself.

By following these tips, you learn how to be more productive and fit the most urgent tasks in your schedule.

Use the 80/20 Rule

We have already discussed other powerful productivity tools like the Eisenhower Matrix in our list of hacks to better manage your time. But there is another time management method you can easily follow and apply on a daily basis: the 80/20 rule.

Also known as the Pareto Principle (after its creator, the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto), this rule states that only 20 percent of your work produces 80 percent of the overall results.

Meaning that only a small portion of your efforts will create most of the result!

That’s why productive people identify which part of their work represents this 20% and cut down small, non-intimidating tasks that belong to the 80% to gain precious time to dedicate to other important things in their lives.

So be sure to do the same thing! Identify which task produces the most results, and decline those that don’t.

Prioritize Tasks And Know When To Say No

On a similar page, you also need to know when to say no.

You don’t need to be a time management expert to know that most of the time, you won’t be able to do everything that comes up in your life. Whether it is new opportunities or different projects, these types of possibilities show up in life constantly.

And the more responsibilities you have, the more opportunities you’ll encounter with.

The worst part is that many could be highly beneficial.

Maybe it is a complicated project in your job that will definitely take you more time, but if you nail it, it will improve your relationship with your boss. Or perhaps it is the opportunity to frequently meet with a very smart group study, where you could share knowledge and notes with other students and reduce the time you would normally need to prepare for a test.

And we get it; having your schedule full of tasks and activities can make you feel very productive, but this is a huge mistake people make.

The key to productivity is that quality is way more important than quantity.

The most productive and efficient people aren’t those who do the most, but those who know which are the activities that lead to the greater outcome and prioritize these over the rest.

Accepting good and even promising opportunities can be tempting, but you need to recognize that some of these can slow you from focusing on your most important priorities.

Prioritize your goals and know that sometimes you’ll just have to say no.

Use Your Communication Skills

You’d be surprised at how much of your precious time you could save just by knowing how to communicate effectively, especially in your working environment.

For example, emails are one of the most common means of communication you can find in any kind of job. You can spend several minutes writing an email, trying to understand what the other person is asking you, and then finding the perfect words to answer. 

Suddenly, a relatively simple duty becomes a 20-minute task that takes valuable time from you and your co-worker.

The same goes for meetings and presentations. Or haven’t you ever been to a one-hour meeting that could have perfectly worked as a 15-minutes presentation?

And yes, sometimes these tasks won’t be your responsibility. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do everything you can to improve where the rest is failing.

Improve your communication skills by sending precise emails that efficiently answer the questions you received or clearly ask what you need to know. Similarly, prepare your meetings to address the main topics effectively, and depending on the presentation’s length, you can set different blocks of time to answer your co-worker’s questions.

Writing better emails or preparing clearer presentations can take you more time, but in the long run, it will save you time from answering unnecessary emails or listening to over-extended meetings.

Don't Wait For Motivation To Come

Another huge mistake people make is waiting for motivation to come before they start working. As if this inspiration was something fixed that appeared at a specific time and left in another.

Doing this is simply a bad habit. After all, if productive people had to wait for motivation to show up, then they wouldn’t be productive.

We understand it; sometimes it can happen that you feel that big energy before you start working and begin your day so inspired that in only a few hours, you finish all the tasks that normally take you the entire workday. It’s great when that happens, but effective people get started, whether motivated or not.

And so should you!

The most common mistake people make is looking at the massive scope of their task. 

An efficient work habit to avoid this and start working faster is breaking your responsibilities into small, non-intimidating tasks that you can complete one step at a time. After you finish the first one, you’ll see how easy it is to jump to the following.

And in a blink of an eye, you’ll be fully incorporated into your own productivity cycle. All of that, without the necessity of that rare feeling of motivation from the start.

How To Be More Productive

Multitasking Is Overrated

Many have made multitasking look like the real key to productivity. Being able to fulfill multiple tasks simultaneously sounds exceptional, something that only really productive people could do.

But as we already told you, the secret is in the quality, not the quantity. 

Where does this statement put multitasking? Well, in the category of toxic productivity.

This is mainly because you can’t do two -or more- things at once. What you are doing is switching your focus from one thing to the other, making you constantly lose your pace and concentration.

Getting into that productivity cycle where you feel motivated and work effectively takes time, and frequently interrupting it means you have to get in this state multiple times.

That’s why multitasking is a lie! It’s far from being an efficient work habit, and no productive people would ever recommend you to practice it on a daily basis.

Become a True Productivity Expert

Now you are ready to improve your productivity levels by focusing on the quality of your work.

Remember to take care of your mental health by taking regular breaks. Not everything in life has to be hard-working and doing anything you can to increase your productivity. Relaxing and saving time for yourself can boost your productivity just as much as any of the tips you can find online.

And if you continue to feel overwhelmed by all your responsibilities, don’t forget you can count on Gradehacker to assist you with anything you need. We help busy students like you with their essays and classes, so they can focus on other obligations while accelerating their degree.

If you are looking for more tips on how to improve your professional development, check out these related articles:

Santiago Mallea

Santiago Mallea

Santiago Mallea is a curious and creative journalist who first helped many college students as a Gradehacker consultant in subjects like literature, communications, ethics, and business. Now, as a Content Creator in our blog, YouTube channel, and TikTok, he assists non-traditional students improve their college experience by sharing the best tips. You can find him on LinkedIn.