(Photo by Teresa Nguyen)


Column: Five tips for a productive and satisfying life

Nowadays, during a pandemic, there is no surprise that most high school students are feeling unmotivated and stressed out about the world and school.  I have also gone through this phase — when the pandemic began, I did not want to go out of my bed or do homework. But after creating a few changes…
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/teresa-nguyen/" target="_self">Teresa Nguyen</a>

Teresa Nguyen

February 18, 2021

Nowadays, during a pandemic, there is no surprise that most high school students are feeling unmotivated and stressed out about the world and school. 

I have also gone through this phase — when the pandemic began, I did not want to go out of my bed or do homework. But after creating a few changes to my schedule and thought processes, I’m converted from an unmotivated high schooler to a productive, sparkling person. Here is a guide on how to be productive and overall enhance your mental health. 


  1. Create an agenda or a journal

Keeping a list of goals you want to achieve in a day is a transcendent way to get started. By designing a plan, you can feel the satisfaction of crossing it out or check-marking the box once you have completed the task. Building a schedule ensures you get all your jobs done and keeps your day in check and organized. 

Writing down your favorite things in a journal can make days feel more significant than they already were. In addition, writing what you are grateful for can boost your mental state as it forces you to think of all the good that has happened throughout your day. Journals provide fulfillment even when you are having a rough day. 


  1. Establish a studying system

One of the most popular study methods is the Pomodoro Technique, which is when you do your work for 25 minutes, take a five minute break, and after four to five sessions, you take a 15 to 20 minute break. 

Does this method truly work, though? Yes, but how? The Pomodoro technique makes us feel as if days aren’t filled with endless work, but instead, work can be done in small chunks and still be finished very efficiently.

One 2010 study found that people’s minds tended to wander 47% of the time, according to Smithsonian Magazine. Our minds stay focused by having short breaks, while if one studied for two hours straight, their mind would typically roam off and not function as productively. In addition, each interval can give you the motivation to work compared to a too-long working period with no breaks. 

Although the Pomodoro technique is the most scientifically proven and best studying method, it may not be for everyone. Sometimes, even when I use this technique, my mind strays off or doesn’t feel motivated to do work. That’s when I change things around: for 45 minutes, I would study and take 15 minutes to read a book I am currently reading. 

You have to understand yourself to create a well-balanced and practical studying system: how long can you maintain focus until you start to wander off? What could be your incentive? Trying out many studying methods and narrowing it down to your favorite one can help you find your dream system. 

Try to avoid your phone while you study. It may seem rather apparent, but most people still keep their phones around while they learn. The presence of a phone can reduce your brainpower, a 2017 study from The University of Texas at Austin found.

Even though the people were not using their phones, it still distracted them. Putting your phone away so that way your eyes can’t see it would boost up productivity. If you aren’t willing to put your phone 10 feet away from you, consider downloading an app called Flora. When you turn on a timer for this app, you can’t go on your phone, or else it will kill your tree, giving you an incentive. So far, I have logged 222 hours on this app to guarantee you it works. 


  1. Make some time for yourself

Students spend a lot of time on homework, chores, and school, but how much time do they save for their passion projects? If you formulate an organized schedule and maintain an effective studying system, you are bound to have an hour or two for yourself. Instead of using that time to watch YouTube, consider utilizing that time to focus on passion projects.

Let’s say you want to be a video game creator — spend an hour each day working on a game you have been planning on for ages. Eventually, you will finish it and feel remarkably content. Consuming that extra hour to learn an instrument or read a book would also increase happiness. What matters is that if you do what you love each day, you will feel more accomplished. 


  1. Get eight hours of sleep every day

This tip is mentioned every time for a mental health guide, but it’s accurate. During sleep, your body produces more serotonin, which decreases your chances of getting depression. During rest, your body also produces more leptin, a hormone that makes you full, and less ghrelin, the hunger hormone. Sleep affects your brain function and emotional well-being.

Consider taking a break from looking at your blue light device an hour before you go to bed. Destress yourself by meditating, doing night stretches, or writing in your journal.

For all you Apple users out there, if you go to the Heath app and press on sleep, you can set a time where your phone goes on “Do not Disturb” mode. 


  1. Simply spend less time on your phone

“Spend less time on your phone” is so straightforward to say but arduous to achieve considering how life today revolves around technology. We spend so much time on social media, comparing ourselves to others, and eventually develop imposter syndrome, which is self-doubt and feelings of severe self adequacy. Focus on yourself, not others.

Our phones can also lessen productivity and strain our eyes due to blue light. Eating without your device can make you appreciate the taste of food, gaze around at the environment, and daydream, enhancing wellness. 

And there is a quick, manageable guide on productivity and establishing a more salubrious lifestyle. Keep in mind that this is just the fundamentals of what I used to become a more content and better person, so your methods or opinions may differ! No matter what methods you use or use any methods at all, make sure you remember that mental health is crucial in our lives. 

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