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My Top 10 Favourite Objects for Productivity

Updated: May 23, 2021

I really enjoy trying to be productive- emphasis on try. I very much have bursts of productivity and bursts of non-productivity. Say I may spend hours going through questions and spend an equal amount of hours on my phone- this is the struggle I constantly face. Nonetheless, these following 10 objects help me with my productivity, either by helping me focus or are just a tool for getting stuff done. Many of these are quite expensive and not essentials, but are objects that have made a measurable difference to my productivity.

1. Laptop

As a student, of course a laptop is number 1. I personally have a cheap-ass chromebook but it gets the job done- any laptop is a must have for students especially during COVID where lots of things are online. Also, I've found that all my work and studying is much more streamlined, having basically digitised my life and gone paperless. Transitioning to university, I'm probably going to upgrade, since a laptop is most definitely utility device at university.

As I said, I use my laptop for all my school work. So that's my notes, UCAS stuff, timetables etc. And I use it just it for general note-taking and admin- or stuff you'd do in a physical notebook since I much prefer typing to hand writing. A laptop is honestly the most worthwhile purchase you can make.

2. Monitor

Having worked without a monitor for most of my school life, I can say that actually having one has vastly boosted my productivity. Personally, I have an extremely old monitor that's about 20 inches but going from no monitor to monitor is such a high measure upgrade. The main, obvious benefit is that you get more screen real estate and so you have bigger pages. This means using pages side by side is much easier and nicer than on a cramped laptop. It's also much better for your eyes, having what you're looking at at eye-level, and also it's much better for you posture, compared to being hunched over a laptop all day.

3. External Keyboard/ Mouse

Linking on to having a good monitor, having a keyboard and mouse to go with it is a no brainer. Again, it does not have to be expensive. I have a £5 mouse and a keyboard that's about 10 years old but they do make such a measurable difference. Just typing on any desktop keyboard is nicer than typing on my cramped, soft laptop keys. My words per minute on my desktop keyboard is higher than my WPMs on my laptop and it is a so much more satisfying typing experience. I also think a number pad is a very useful tool- learn to touch type the number pad, especially for the UCAT. And once again, it's a lot better for your posture compared to being hunched over on a laptop. If you have an external keyboard, you must have an external mouse. Any mouse will do, you can get a somewhat ergonomic one for less than £10 with buttons on the side which I found to be so useful. I configured mine to be back and forward buttons- this just saves so much time (seconds!).

4. Tablet

A tablet is very much a luxury rather than a necessity. I personally did invest a somewhat significant amount in a decent tablet and it has indeed made a measurable difference to my life. I predominantly use it with a stylus to take notes in maths, where it's hard to type up notes, in a bid to be completely paperless (which I think has also made a significant difference to my productivity). But tablets are also great for being portable- something to carry around the house and out and about. Before COVID struck, I carried my tablet out to work from rather than my heavy laptop. Plus my tablet is better than my cheap Chromebook.

5. Comfy/ Ergonomic Chair

This probably should be number 1 and is definitely the best, relatively expensive investment I've made. My original work station was a dining chair, a dining table and my laptop. Then, I upgraded to an actual desk, a monitor and a dining chair. The problem in both these set ups was the chair. I could not sit for more than 30mins without getting up and going for a walk. I had constant neck, shoulder and back pain- and I am relatively sporty- I go on runs, I stretch, but I my posture always dreaded sitting down to do some work. Last Christmas, I spent almost £150 on an Ikea desk chair, and now all my neck, shoulder and back pain is gone. I can now sit for more than 30mins and just generally be more productive. I believe everyone should invest in a chair that they find comfortable but crucially is good for their posture. I think it is worth spending a bit more money on this. For me, the most important features for chairs good for posture include an adjustable lumbar support and ensuring that the seat has over 2" of room between your knees.

6. Index Cards

I can't find a free image of an index card but essentially, they are small pieces of card (about 1/6 of A4 paper). I used to use these as flashcards but ended with about a million boxes of cards so I decided to go paperless. If physical flashcards are your thing then index cards are the way to go. Because I still have boxes of blank index cards, I always have a small stack of them next to my desk and in my bedroom and they're really useful for jotting down ideas/ notes and as well as creating todo lists. You can buy all these fancy, pre-made todo lists and note taking tools but they're essentially just glorified index cards.

7. Water bottle/Drink

Water. Clearly a no brainer. Of course hydration is important and dehydration can lead to a lack of focus and therefore productivity- so of course everyone should be drinking water. However, I would say everyone should have a bottle of water close by. Not only does this reduce the friction to staying hydrated since you don't have to get up and go get water, but it also prevents distractions. I am very good at taking long breaks so anything to prevent me from leaving my desk at all is a great aid to my productivity. I also enjoy having a cup of fruit tea- it's a nice change to water with no calories and no caffeine. I've also conditioned my body to expect to study whenever I prepare a cup of tea.

8. Music/Headphones

Sure, there's scientific evidence to suggest listening to music inhibits concentration and effective studying since it does not mimic the absolute silence you will experience in an exam. However, I feel that this is a worthy sacrifice for me feel like studying. I find that listening to music does make studying more fun and when things are more fun, you're more productive. I feel this boost in productivity does outweigh the consequences of non mimicking an exam environment. However, there is the caveat that the music should have no lyrics. Personally, I listen to instrumentals and classical music.

9. Kindle

Again, this isn't so much a necessity than a luxury. I found that having a Kindle has made me read many more books by reducing the friction of buying a book. Additionally, it is just so much easier to read holding a tiny tablet than having to flick through books. How the Kindle has boosted my productivity is by making it effortless to highlight key ideas, compared to having to use a physical highlighter with physical books. Equally, the Kindle is so much easier to carry around than physical books and so if I were to go to a library, I could easily whip out the Kindle. Most importantly, when you buy a Kindle book, you can read online through the Kindle web app. In this way, it is so easy to take notes, having Remnote on one side of the screen and the web app on the other. Get a Kindle if you want to read more and take more notes on the things you have read.

10. Big Notebooks/Pukka Pads

Despite trying to go completely paperless, I recently bought 3 large Pukka Pads from Amazon for about £7. Grudgingly I admit, in some situations it is better to use paper, whether this is for doing maths questions or just note taking in general. Normally, I would like to use my tablet for doing these things, but I find that writing on a tablet is not as satisfying as on paper.

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