Saleen Says: 5 things that help me to stay on task and be productive.

Hey everyone!

It’s Sunday and I’ve got a lot of work to do, which means I need to knock some tasks out. I figured I’d make a quick post with tips to stay focused. These can be useful for students and professionals. Let’s dive in, shall we?

We’ll go into more detail about each one in a bit, but here’s my list:

  1. Making a “to do” list
  2. Change of scenery
  3. Music
  4. Food
  5. Solitude

How can each of these things help you to get your work done? Let’s find out!

Making Lists

I got this idea from my counselor here in Georgia. I struggle with anxiety, and I often wake up in the middle of the night feeling as if I’ve forgotten to do something. Now, I make a list for each day of the week. I jot down activities I’d like to have done for each day, and when that day comes, I slowly delete the tasks I have completed. It builds momentum and motivates me to keep going.

If you do this, include everything that you think you’ll struggle to do–including things you do daily, even work or class! Sometimes they can be exhausting and it’s hard to get out of bed, especially when you’re anxious and have a lot going on. Jot work or school down on your list, and once you are done for the day, check them off. Pat yourself on the back for getting there and handling your business. That can motivate you to keep going.


As far as making the list, I just keep mine electronically in an e-mail draft because it’s easy to edit and I am always logged into my e-mail account. You can also just write things down on paper and cross them out. Whatever works for you.

Change of Scenery

This is advice I actually got from my mom years ago during undergrad, and it is so incredibly important. I think this can really help students who have trouble concentrating or are exhausted too. Stop trying to get work done in a “comfortable” place. Stop trying to do homework in bed or on the couch where you’re more likely to turn on the TV, goof off, or “rest your eyes” for five minutes. Go to Starbucks, go to Jittery Joe’s, or go to Barnes & Noble. If that doesn’t work for you, find a spot on campus where you’ve been pretty productive in the past. I believe those spaces where we get a lot done are motivating factors for us. We remember how much we got done there last time and it can help us this time around. Get it?

If you decide to check out a coffee shop, remember to charge your phone and laptop beforehand just in case you can’t snag a spot next to an outlet! Also, remember to bring headphones, or always keep some in your backpack, which brings us to our next tip.


Music has seriously saved my life this semester. In the past, I couldn’t listen to it while working because it distracted me, but now I’ve got a ton of other distractions and music seems to be my salvation! My good friend suggested that I listen to classical music to study one day. I tried it and it is the best decision I’ve ever made. I plug my headphones in, get into my own head and start working.

If you’re anything like me, you prefer study music without words, so you can check out the following YouTube channels if you’d like:

  1. Just Instrumental Music
  2. YellowBrickCinema – Relaxing Music

Other options include stations on Pandora or Spotify. You can find them by searching for “Study music,” “Relaxing music,” or “Classical music.”


Yes, eating can help you to be productive, or at least it does for me. I like to eat, okay? I like to eat period, but I also like to eat while I watch movies, and while I work, even if it’s just something to snack on. Sometimes when we’re working or stressed, we “forget” to eat. I do, and then I get killer headaches and I can forget about getting any work done because I feel like I’m going to pass out. No bueno. Grab a snack and eat it as you work.


Lastly, work alone. This may not fly for everyone, but I realize I get distracted when I am with other people and try to work. I am a people-person and admittedly, a Chatty Cathy. I talk too much. Sometimes you just need to isolate yourself for a bit to get things done.

Alright, that’s my list! I hope this helps you. If you think I missed anything or have some tips of your own to share, please feel free to sound off in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!

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