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How to be Productive as a Student
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How to be Productive as a Student

Written by Sam | November 18, 2021

Something different from a blog about accommodation, however, I am all for being productive, getting what I need to done and then doing what I want. In this blog, I want to show you how I stay productive and get what I need to do done to enjoy university.

This will differ for each and every person because we are individual, but apply what we want and hopefully, it helps you.

Here is what worked for me and might work for you:

  • Distractions
  • Manageable Tasks
  • Setup
  • To Do Lists
  • Discipline


Remove them, this means phones, tablets, shutting the door on your housemates and getting your work done. If you keep getting distracted every time you get into the flow of work then you will struggle to get much done.

If you can remove the distractions for an hour and focus on your work you can get a lot of it done and then not have to worry about doing much work for the rest of the day.

The problem comes when you have lectures throughout the day and you need to do some work at the end of the day to stay on top of it.

If you just give yourself that hour of hard work, then that should be enough to keep you on top of your work.

Make sure that you remove distractions for that period of time to allow you to get all your work done.

Manageable Tasks

When you read about ‘flow’ one of the main points is that you have tasks that push you but are not impossible. This way it makes you focus and challenges you but you aren’t put off by it!

How do you do this? Well if the task is too big you need to break it down and if it is too easy, well get it done and then move on to something that is going to challenge you.

We don’t live in a perfect world and this will require some discipline to make sure you get the simple stuff done and to stay on track with the more difficult tasks, but by sticking to it, you will get the reward.

There is a lot more research on Flow – make sure to take a deeper look there. Because if not, it can lead to a lot of procrastination and Tik Tok loves that.

Read more on flow here: Flow for students

Flow state for students
Flow state for students


What is your working condition like? Here are some key points to think about that might help your situation:

  • Brightness
  • Working hours
  • Desk / screen set up
  • Space to make any notes
  • Fresh air
  • Plants

There are likely to be a few more you can add but make the space your own, have your own setup and make sure that it works for you.

The hardest part I found was knowing what made it work for me. It’s very much trial and error but looking and reviewing how you work best and then replicating that everywhere you work means you can always have a good setup.

As an example for me, it’s music on, curtains open, plenty of space to scatter my things and to make notes with no WhatsApp, slack or emails open to distract me!

To Do Lists

These help me no end, however, you can almost have so many of them that it becomes overwhelming! For me, when I feel like I have a lot on I write everything that I need to do ranging from the smallest task to the biggest. Everything goes on this list.

Then what I do is look at how important or urgent these tasks are and then decide what to do with them. A very well known tool in the time management world is the one below. However, the problem arises, how do you delegate tasks as a student? You might have to see if a friend, family member or someone you know might do that section for you.

To make sense of the model it might be worth pointing out what important and urgent are. Urgency is how quick the tasks need to be completed, so urgent means as soon as possible. Important means the task has a significant weighting to move you forward in some way.

I hope this helps, it works for me and it means you can then put the tasks into these boxes or start another list of the important and urgent tasks you need to do.

Flow state for students
Time management for students


This is all internal and in your mind. In short, it’s doing what you say you are going to do. Only you will ever know whether you have stuck to this or not.

Some ways to stick to what you say you are going to do is to:

  • Write them down
  • Be specific
  • Think back to why you are doing them – zoom out to the big picture
  • Rewards

There are many theories on motivation that will help you stay disciplined, the most well known and the one I resonate the most with is Maslow.

He’s a guy that came up with a pyramid shape and filled it with the needs must meet in order to get to self-fulfilment or where you are operating at your best.

To get you to perform your best you need to make sure you can tick off each part of the pyramid.

Maslows hierarchy of needs
Maslows hierarchy of needs


This will help you to be disciplined and is all-around rewarding good behaviour so that you do it again and again! There is a whole theory around this and is known to work with most.

Firstly, you have to decide what the reward is and only pull it out when you have accomplished something off the list. I find a great way to use this is when you show an attribute that will help you.

An example can be consistently waking up on time, getting everything done in the time you set and moving forward.

What is the Meaning of Positive Reinforcement?

Positive reinforcement refers to the introduction of a desirable or pleasant stimulus after a behavior. The desirable stimulus reinforces the behavior, making it more likely that the behavior will reoccur.
It’s a positive parenting method used for a variety of purposes and in a wide range of contexts, as it capitalizes on the good behaviors that are already being displayed, rewarding the natural tendencies towards good behavior in the individual you are working to train.

The Psychology of Positive Reinforcement Theory

Although it sounds like a simple idea, it was not always the “go-to” method for teaching. Punishment has always been a popular method for teaching—whether it was for training children, pets, or adults.

In fact, positive reinforcement is only one of the four types of conditioning according to famed behaviorist B. F. Skinner’s model.


I hope this helps, I have tried to back it up with research to show that it’s not just another article of someone typing and not backing it up.

I am going to do a few more of these from now on.

There are many ways you can be productive and a lot of variables that might be affecting it, however, if you are struggling take a look at what might be stopping you, break it down, apply some of these theories to help you get back on track!

The aim of this article is to help you work hard when you need to so that you can then spend more time doing whatever you want to.

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