COVID-19 diaries with Asad Ali: Top Tips for Productivity

Here is another fab COVID-19 diary with Asad Ali, a third year dental student at Barts & The London...

Asad, third year dental student at Barts & The London

We all feel a sense of lethargy during lock down, changing Netflix for Dentistry. However, it is unlikely we will get this much free time again, so making the most of it is an extremely fulfilling thing to do! 

Here are 5 productivity tips to help you make the most of lock down:

1. Find out what you actually want to achieve

If you never had the time to do a certain hobby but really wanted to get into it, now is your chance! I recommend writing a list of all the things you have wanted to do but ask yourself 'Why?' this will mean you have a real purpose behind doing that hobby. Think 'In one year's time what would I regret not doing?', this will also help you focus your attention on what really matters. The Pareto principle, or the 80/20 rule, means that 80% of your happiness will come from 20% of your inputs, so focus on what really makes you happy!

2. Set yourself goals

Now you know what matters to you and what you want to achieve, set goals! Set an ambitious goal to be achieved by end of lock down then break that down per week, then per day. If you ever lack motivation, remember that why!

3. Parkinson's Law

This rule states 'work expands to fill the time allocated to it', this means if you let your essay take up most of the day, then it will! By giving things tight deadlines we are forced to focus. 

I like to split mt day up into 6 sessions and create deadlines to be done in each session. See below. 

Table 1: structure of a typical day; trying to maximise productivity
*watch out for the post prandial slump! Try to eat a light lunch, try to get some exercise and potentially have some tea to help you focus. 

The length of each session is completely up to you, but you could do 1-hour sessions using the Pomodoro method. This is where you do a burst of work followed by a break and repeat. I use 25 minutes work then have a 5-minute break - the app Flora is good for this. 

4. Eat your frogs in the morning!

This rather strange phrase means do the things you are most apprehensive about in the morning. Get them out the way and then it can only be up from there. From table 1, schedule that essay you have been putting off to morning 1 and 2!

5. Reflect

Not every day will be one where you are ultra-productive, think why some days are better than others and adjust your routine accordingly. If 6 sessions are too many then change it to less, or you may find 25 minutes too short to focus, then extend it.

Making the most of lock down is no easy feat, however if done it can be an extremely fulfilling time!

Do you want to write a COVID-19 diary? Please get in touch! Whether you're a dental student, foundation dentist, dental core trainee, associate, dental nurse, therapist I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

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