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April 21, 2015

Boost Your Productivity

Learn simple ways to better understand the importance of time management, setting goals, taking notes, and scripture study

The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot. —Michael Altshuler

The life of a student can be difficult, especially when having to balance various other responsibilities. To help you feel more successful and productive during your time in Pathway and beyond, check out these four simple topics that can make a huge difference in your personal productivity.

Managing Time

Complete the most important assignments first.

Do you ever feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done that you need to? Do you wonder how you’ll possibly complete all of your Pathway assignments by the deadline each week? If so, you’re not alone — but there is hope. Try these pointers, and see if your ability to get things done improves.1

Decide what your priorities are

Take 15-30 minutes every morning or the night before to decide what needs to be accomplished that day. Set time limits for each activity to avoid spending too much time on any single task.

Identify your most productive times of day

Each person’s schedule is different and unique. Are you an early riser or a night owl? Do you work, take care of kids, or have other major responsibilities? When are your best times to study uninterrupted? Based on your personal schedule, determine the times of day you are most productive, and prioritize your tasks during those times.

When busy, look to avoid these typical time wasters:

  • Social media
  • Internet surfing
  • Television
  • Email
  • Online shopping
  • Short videos
  • Daydreaming
  • Online games
  • Texting and phone calls

Don’t overbook yourself

There is only so much time in a day. Don’t overschedule yourself. This can lead to feelings of defeat when too many “to-dos” are left undone.

Don’t be afraid to say “no”

No one knows your schedule better than you. If you know that an extra task or favor is simply not possible, don’t do it. Look for another time that would work for you, or delegate the job to someone else.

Get a good night’s sleep

As Benjamin Franklin once observed, “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” Be sure you get enough sleep to have the necessary energy to accomplish everything on your busy schedule.

Prepare for unexpected distractions

Elder M. Russell Ballard reminds us that we still have to cope “with the complex and diverse challenges of everyday life.”2 Because of unexpected circumstances, we are not always able to accomplish every task on every list. Work to prepare yourself for each day, but don’t beat yourself up when things don’t always go according to plan.

Setting Goals

Setting goals is something you will do throughout your entire life. Elder M. Russell Ballard said, “I am so thoroughly convinced that if we don’t set goals in our life and learn how to master the techniques of living to reach our goals, we can reach a ripe old age and look back on our life only to see that we reached but a small part of our full potential.”3

Keep track of all your tasks.

These tips will help you when setting and working toward your goals:

Write down your goals

Writing down your goals will make you decide what you really want and clarify any details. In doing so, you have a constant reminder to take action. This can also help you realize the progress you have made. Review your goals often and check them off as you complete them. Reward yourself when you accomplish difficult tasks.4

Don’t set too many goals

Productivity studies show that most people can’t focus on more than 5-7 items at any one time, so make sure you stick with just a few goals before adding any more.5

Don’t procrastinate

Realize the side effects and stress that come from procrastinating. Use your time management tips to set time limits to accomplish your goals. This will eliminate stress and help you feel the rewards that come from holding yourself accountable to finish your tasks on time.6

Regularly review your goals

Elder Russell M. Nelson said that “often the lack of clear direction and goals can waste away our time and energy and contribute to imbalance in our lives.”7 Use the goals you complete to your benefit and look back on them regularly to ensure that you are keeping them.

Be “S.M.A.R.T.”

Consider using the acronym S.M.A.R.T. to help you remember how easy goal setting can be.8SMART goals

  • Be SPECIFIC. State all the details of exactly what you want to accomplish.
  • Have a MEASUREABLE goal. How will you evaluate the extent to which the goal has been met?
  • Set something ACHIEVABLE. Challenge yourself within your ability to achieve the outcome. Making an impossible goal is not productive.
  • Make sure your goal is REALISTIC so that you can complete it without having to go to extreme lengths.
  • Give yourself a TIME LIMIT. Set a target date to have a successful and timely completion.

Note Taking

Note taking can be extremely helpful when done the right way. What you record while learning new material and concepts can save you precious time when reviewing. If you’ve taken Pathway Life Skills, you should be familiar with the Cornell note-taking system. Continue reading for more tips on effective note taking.

Start with a positive attitude

When you are in a good mood, you are more likely to pay attention and notice the most important concepts in each lesson. A positive attitude can help you better appreciate the importance of the material.

NEWS-Self-Reliance_graph

Be prepared

Have a paper and a pen ready to use at the start of each lesson. You may also consider using a voice recorder so that you can quickly state any thoughts that come to mind. Don’t do online coursework or attend gatherings without the materials you need to be most effective.

Stay organized

Start each notes section with a date and title so when you go back to reference something, you’ll quickly find what you’re looking for. Use only one side of the paper so you can lay out notes side by side when studying. Consider leaving space to write additional notes later on in case you remember or learn something new.

Review your notes

According to Cornell University’s Learning Strategies Center director, Walter Pauk, we forget 47 percent of what we learned just 20 minutes after learning it.9 Try to find times in your week when you can effectively review the notes you take from online courses and gatherings.

Scripture & Gospel Study

Set aside time to study the scriptures.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf references the 13th Article of Faith when encouraging us to “strive to increase [our] knowledge of all that is ‘virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy.’” He also encourages us to “seek knowledge ‘by study and also by faith.’”10

Prophets and apostles have always counseled us to learn and gain more knowledge, both academically and spiritually. It is important to not lose our dedication to the scriptures because of our dedication to education. Set aside time daily to read your scriptures and attend your weekly Church meetings. The Spirit is the best teacher, so involve Him in your life. Having a personal relationship with the Lord will help you learn through the Spirit during your studies.


  1. ^ “How to Manage Time with 10 Tips that Work” and Pathway Life Skills.
  2. ^ M. Russell Ballard, “Keeping Life’s Demands in Balance,” Ensign or Liahona, May 1987.
  3. ^ M. Russell Ballard, “Go for It!”  New Era, March 2004.
  4. ^ Michael Hyatt, “5 Reasons Why You Should Commit Your Goals to Writing,” MichaelHyatt.com.
  5. ^ Michael Hyatt, “The Beginner’s Guide to Goal Setting,” MichaelHyatt.com.
  6. ^ Drew Hendricks, “6 Ways to Ditch Procrastination for Good,” entrepreneur.com, November 2014.
  7. ^ M. Russell Ballard, “Keeping Life’s Demands in Balance,” Ensign or Liahona, May 1987.
  8. ^ Duncan Haughey, “SMART Goals,” Project Smart.
  9. ^ Walter Pauk, How to Study in College,. (1984 and 1997). Houghton Mifflin Co. Boston, MA.
  10. ^ “Education is a Commandment,” LDS.org.

Comments on "Boost Your Productivity"

Maafu Manisela says:

i will

Veleene Allen says:

Thank you for the POSITIVE ENCOURAGEMENT!

Glenda Rice says:

Very meaningful and encouraging statements to aid us along in our journey through Pathway.

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