STU(DYING) against Productivity

I am an anxious person. Even ordering food at Chipotle gives me anxiety. Therefore, I have always used this anxiety as a force that propels me forward to be productive. The more work I do, the less anxious future Cindy will feel. 

The big thing with motivation is that it’s an extremely unreliable means to help with productivity. Motivation comes and goes. It’s only through hard work that good results come and then motivation follows. 

It’s the last part of the feedback cycle that pushes you further into working hard. However, it’s a lousy means to start the process of this productivity cycle. 

Coincidentally enough, I am writing this article as I take a breather from getting work done. 

Here are my productivity tricks: 

  1. Use the Pomodoro method. 

    1. Many people swear by the Pomodoro Technique as being the ultimate time management technique. It was developed in the late 1980s by a university student named Francesco Cirillo, who was struggling to maintain focus and complete his assignments. Feeling overwhelmed, he found a tomato (pomodoro in italian) timer and set it to 10 minutes – during which he would give 100% of his focus to. This is when the Pomodoro technique was born.

    2. Essentially you set aside a chunk of time (standard slots of time are 25/45/60 min) where you focus purely on the work in front of you. 

    3. Then you take a short break (normally 5/10/15 min).

    4. You repeat until you reach about 4/5/6 sessions and give yourself a slightly longer break. 

    5. The purpose of the method is to help give yourself time to relax and prevent burnout. It also makes the work you need to accomplish feel less of a burden because it’s spaced out between set breaks. 

  1. Just start the timer. 

    1. I find that staying productive is often a lot easier than starting off productive work. Normally, if I count down from 10 and “trick” myself that I will just need to concentrate for 10 minutes, I end up in a pretty productive mentality. The hard part is starting, and the best remedy for this is a simple countdown and then just hitting the start button. For some reason, once our brains register that work is beginning they usually follow through with the task for longer than we expect. 

  1. Work with others. 

    1. This concept is pretty self explanatory. It’s why people like going to cafes or libraries to study. The act of seeing other people work can push you to work harder. I always feel the urge to study when I see someone else studying. However, given the safety precautions we need to take nowadays, going out to study is a bit more impractical, if not impossible. This is where I recommend forming virtual study groups that fit your studying needs. I would say that there are two main types of workers: those who like to talk and work directly with others, and those who like the presence of others with peace and quiet. I tend to fall in the latter category. If you have friends you want to work with, forming a video chat study session can be immensely helpful. If you aren’t able to schedule this with your friends, there are plenty of “study with me” streams on YouTube that you can peruse and use for the same effect. It may seem weird at first, but I promise it’s very helpful. Humans are visual creatures after all. Seeing is believing!

  1. Find small treats or incentives to work hard. 

    1. It always helps to have something to look forward to after you complete a task. Therefore, giving yourself a “treat” after you are done studying or doing work for X amount of time can be beneficial. It can range from something as small as a piece of chocolate to a movie night. The most important skill this builds up is accountability and trust in yourself. The more you complete the work you need done, the more credit you give yourself to putting the effort in before any awards are obtained. You start to trust in your own abilities more. 

Apps that I recommend for productivity and studying (I use these personally): 


  • Helps with implementing pomodoro method and allows you to study with friends through the timer 

  • Uses a cute interface where you can plant and redeem points to buy more cute trees

  • Once you have a set number of hours logged, a real tree is planted as well

Anki App 

  • This is more useful for studying and as a good studying tactic that builds off of spaced repetition

  • You can create flashcards and the app will sort through and show you the cards that you are most unfamiliar with 

  • I find that this is much more helpful than normal flashcards or Quizlet because the app tracks which concepts you are less sure of and makes sure to show those more often than the concepts you already understand 

Any countdown timer 

  • I think being able to visually see how many days/weeks are left before an assignment is due or an exam will be administered can help put a lot of things in perspective 

  • Any countdown timer will work, but this will allow for there to be a constant reminder of how long you truly have left versus how long you think you have left to study

I promise that just setting aside 5 minutes to start with will make a world of difference. Lastly, change every “I have to…” sentence in your mind to “I get to…”, as perspective changes a lot! Happy studying!(: 

Overachiever Magazine was started by Rehana Paul in October of 2018 to give a platform to all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities.

Our name is poking fun at the stereotype that all Asians are overachievers, especially Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. It’s also in recognition of all of us who have had no choice but to be overachievers: managing societal expectations, family obligations, and educational opportunities, all while fighting the patriarchy.

We have grown since then, putting out bimonthly issues (we are contributor powered: apply to write for our next one!), and weekly reviews of culture, and news that is important to us.

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We do not claim to speak for all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. We are just here to give them a place to speak for themselves.

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