As a first year I’m very lucky to have more time than those further along to experiment with different study hacks. So when I found Life Hacker’s article “Six lazy ways to trick your brain into being productive” I thought why not?
1. Productive Procrastination
So apparently if you try and trick yourself into prioritising larger tasks that are not due so urgently then it will feel less daunting when you come to do the smaller tasks that are due now.
Even from the beginning I was a little sceptical of this. I mean trying to trick myself into doing what I need to by prioritising other tasks I needed done. My brain is way too smart for that.
In fact, my brain was quite clear on the efficacy of this hack: “I see what you’re trying to do here. Hahahahaha no”.
Whoa… this actually worked. Maybe I’m not as smart as I thought… no that can’t be it. But when I told myself that I could either do this awful daunting assignment that is due is a few weeks or I could do this assignment due in a few days my brain was like YEAH LET’S DO THE LATTER! I told myself I was going to procrastinate productively but instead just ended up finishing the thing I really needed to get done.
2. Temperature and Light
This hack suggests that we work more productively when we work in conditions that are both lighter and hotter than if we were to work in a darker and colder room.
I’m always sceptical about stuff like this, which I guess is good because then you can trust my reality isn’t an outcome of the placebo effect. To be honest this hack is not much of a change for me. The lawbry at my university is a sauna and I am always there in daylight.
So nothing changed really. I’m just not a person who is more productive in the day or night and I’m not affected by how hot it is. The same thing that always happens when I try to study happened…
3. Work in a cafe
That the ambient noise of the coffee shop may help can help you focus rather than being distracted by the noise of the other people.
That the buzz of the coffee shop would actually make me more productive. I also thought that all these corporate people who came into the coffee shop would think I was important if I was actually doing work.
So pro-tip… be prepared for the inevitability that the café you go to might not have Wi-Fi. This is not necessarily a bad thing because if you are prepared for this then Facebook and Netflix won’t be a distraction. Bring work you can do without Internet. I forgot this, needed to download study materials and bam without Wi-Fi I had an excuse not to study.
I did try this again the next day with the prepared materials and it actually went really well. I felt like I could really concentrate and that I accomplished a lot. I felt so good that I thought I’d see if I could try the same thing at the local bar…
4. Planned Naps
So this hack states that if we have a nap for twenty minutes between 1:00 and 3:00pm for around twenty minutes we become invigorated to do more work and that our memory and concentration is increased.
I’m a regular napper but usually because I’ve been up to some ridiculous hour because #lawschoollife. So to try this on a day where I’d gotten a good sleep would be interesting and even though the hack makes sense to me, I still wasn’t sure what to expect.
So after 20 minutes of zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz how did I feel? Really great actually! I felt ready to do more work but do you know what I also felt like? Like I wanted another 20 minutes of sleep.
5. Unfamiliar Music
That if you listen to music that is the opposite of what you’d listen to when you’re not being productive while working then that would help influence your mind into being productive.
So to be perfectly honest I had no idea if this would work. I am all for music affecting your mood. ‘Worth It’ by Fifth Harmony is always top on my playlist when I need to do something important. Apparently you’re supposed to choose the opposite style to what you’d listen to when you’re not trying to be productive. I’m open to the idea.
I tried listening to classical music. I’m not saying that classical music is bad, not one bit. It’s just not my jam. Of all the hacks this one definitely worked the best but for a few reasons. Firstly classical songs usually go on for a long time so I’m not constantly changing the song on Youtube and secondly because there were no lyrics and it wasn’t anything like the modern stuff I listen to, I wasn’t procrastinating by singing and dancing along. But now I’ve done what I need to so… LOOK AT ME. I’M WORTH IT!
6. Power of Puppies
This hack involves the idea that looking at photos of cute animals increases your attention and that can carry across to doing your work after.
So after twenty minutes of looking at puppy eyes (sorry cat people) I expected that I should have better concentration and that if doing something so unlike study didn’t get me back to it then at least the idea that these puppies were trying to guilt me back into study might.
“Awwwwww look at the little puppy. Mum? Dad? I know I’m a grown woman but can I please please please have it? I promise I’ll look after it! I shall name him Squishy and he shall be my squishy”.
“What’s better than one cute puppy? All of the cute puppies! I must have them. Look at you cuties. I could eat you all up! Do you want to come home with me? I bet you do you little cuties!”
So yeah that didn’t go as well as planned. When it comes to dogs everyone just loses all inhibition.
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