We asked our alumni for their best productivity tips for work or study

Ever wondered how our most successful alumni get things done? There’s lots of productivity advice out there, but we thought we’d ask some of our former learners for their tried and tested methods for achieving a lot in not-a-lot of time.

If you’re struggling to fit all of your tasks into your day, you really should be reading this.

Planning and prioritising

“Failing to plan is planning to fail,” said one CEO we spoke to.

The consensus among the alumni was that planning is key. This may seem like an obvious piece of advice, but forward-planning isn’t just about writing a to-do list or a schedule. It’s also about time management prioritising tasks.

Another Entrepreneur and Marketing Director said: “I have to prioritise my activities, even if it means forgetting about the little stuff to get the big stuff done.”

One popular way to prioritise tasks is by sorting them into what is ‘urgent’ and ‘important.’ This principle is actually credited to U.S. President Eisenhower, who said in a 1954 speech that “the urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.” He means that in order to minimise the stress of having too much to do in too little time, we can rid ourselves of the tendency to focus on unimportant, urgent tasks that prevent us from doing important tasks that will actually help us reach or goals. In other words, sometimes it’s better to do the most important tasks first, even if it means missing the deadline for something smaller. This is demonstrated in the below diagram by Business Insider:

Tricks for time management

Other alumni were keen to point out the importance of breaking up their working time into manageable portions so they don’t burn out and lose concentration by the end of the day.

“This time management method works best for me,” agreed another alumnus who has forged a career as a prominent journalist. “If I allocate 2 to 3 hour time slots for different tasks, my concentration capacity reaches its culmination and then I switch focus and start the process again.”

One alumnus, a Recruitment Manager, said, “I get out of the office every few hours and try and make sure I’m not thinking about work, whether it’s walking around listening to music or calling my mum. I return to my desk feeling ready to take on my next task.”

“Never try to multi-task,” said another former learner, who works as a Freelance Illustrator. “It’s a quick way to get overwhelmed, and is actually counter-productive. It’s a myth that women are great multitaskers – no one is!”

Thank you to all of the alumni who contributed to this article on LinkedIn and our other social media channels. If you’d like to have your views featured in a future article, please sign up to your alumni LinkedIn group and look out for our regular discussion topics.