A Student Guide to Productivity

studentHQ logoPeter Mercer is a Lancaster based student landlord and director of Student HQ. Peter doesn’t consider being a landlord simply as a money making exercise, but feels that there is a social responsibility to keep his properties well maintained and to ensure all tenants are treated fairly.


Stay Off Social Media

This is a big one. The Global Web Index’s quarterly report on social media found that people spend an average of 1 hour 49 minutes on social media every day. A ‘5-minute’ Facebook check can turn into a trance-like hour as you browse your friends’ posts, upload photos, and check out funny cat videos.

If you have to, use a browser extension to block the sites on your laptop, and delete any social apps on your phone. The extra hassle of unblocking the site or trying to login to the mobile version of Facebook can seriously deter you from casual browsing. On a related note, switch off notifications. Smartphone or desktop notifications interrupt your flow at best, and at worst, pull you back down the rabbit hole.

Limit Noise

Ask.com found that 61% of office workers cited noise as the biggest productivity drainer of their day. This can also apply as a student, whether you live in university halls, a shared student house or even with your parents. There are a number of ways you can limit noise; even if you opt to stay in your shared environment.

The first is to just take a walk and study in your University’s library instead; a place where books are available and silence is mandated. Cafes, restaurants, and even pubs can also offer a quieter alternative to a noisy home environment. If you do want to stay put, consider soundproofing your room, wearing noise-cancelling headphones, or timing it for when your hall or house mates are out.  

Take Regular Breaks

Despite the popular myth of hard work conquering all, regular breaks are essential for productivity.  Sitting in the same position for too long and staring at a screen can affect your physical and mental health. This can lead to burnout, especially if you are engaged in intensive or creative work.

For the physical; most studying is done in front of a screen. Healthcare providers recommend resting your eyes for at least 15 minutes after two hours of computer use. Sitting in the same position for too long can cause joint and muscular problems. This can be an easy trap to fall into when you are focused on writing that paper or getting to grips with a tough concept.

Time Yourself

One related technique is to time yourself in order to make sure that regular breaks happen. If you are working to produce an essay or dissertation, this can also keep you focused and on target. You can use timers like Toggl or a simple stopwatch; alternatively, you can employ the Pomorodo technique. This is where you work for 25 minutes, then take a 5-minute break before your next 25-minute segment.

Measuring time spent and keeping yourself accountable is a great way to enhance your time management as a student, along with using to-do lists, schedule overviews, weekly plans and more efficient study techniques.

Planned Rewards

Planned rewards are a great way to motivate yourself and improve productivity while studying. Gamification apps like Habitica work on this principle, where completing tasks earns you points to spend on rewards. Diets often encourage non-food rewards to keep people on track, as a way of decoupling food from the concept of feeling good / comfort.

It’s a method that does require a little self-discipline but can be extremely effective. External rewards can be a great way to motivate yourself. Plus, if you feel you ‘deserve’ that night out or new outfit, the reward is that much more satisfying.

Hopefully, this piece will help you to be more productive and motivated. What are your favourite tips for achieving more with your day?


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