take a minute

How to stay productive while at university
20 Sep 2021
by Josh

After almost 2 years of academic disruption, students across the UK are flocking back to universities and colleges with an additional air of expectation. Making up for lost time and missed experiences will no doubt be high on most students’ minds and as an ex-student myself I’d feel the same! But we all know that the reason we are there is to get qualified and that requires a fairly large amount of work. So, how can you stay productive whilst at university and still have the social life you dreamed of?

Once the initial settling in weeks have passed it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the amount of assignments that need to be completed. Deadlines start to loom and with all the distractions it’s all too easy to lose focus and get distracted. I know first hand how easy it is to get distracted while doing an assignment. Following these top tips, collected from techtimeout’s finest students and making use of our tools such as our Pomodoro timer (Pomodoro Timer (techtimeout.co.uk) will help.

tip 1: take regular breaks

Sometimes when students have big assignments they tend to try and finish everything in one big effort. When I was at university I often tried to finish my assignments in one big push. However, this was rarely effective as after an hour or so I was easily distracted. This is when I discovered the importance of integrating regular breaks into my work schedule. On the techtimeout website we have a Pomodoro timer which will help you to monitor your working time and schedule in breaks. You can set the timer to work in either 25 or 45 minutes slots and after that time you will have earned a break. Taking regular breaks is key to staying productive so that you can complete your assignments in good time and avoid the big push that is rarely effective.

tip 2: have a proper sleep

Having a good night's sleep will help you to stay productive while completing university assignments. In 2020, The Sleep Council found that 77% of Britons lacked sleep which interfered with their ability to function during the day. In addition, a 2012 study found that there was a reduction in mental capacity and problem solving ability among poor sleepers. Whilst no-one is saying that you need to stay in every night and get to sleep before 11pm. Getting the balance between going out and staying in to complete assignments is critical.

Another reason for poor sleep is the blue light emitted from smartphones which prevents students from getting a good enough sleep. So remember to switch off your phone at least an hour before you sleep.

tip 3: remove distractions

When doing assignments at university it is important to remove all distractions to enable you to focus. Going to a library, instead of sitting in your room, helps many students separate their social and academic lives. When I was in university I found it hard to focus in my dorm room. There were way too many distractions in my dorm room and walking to the library helped me to set my mind to studying, whilst sitting in the formal library helped me focus for longer. As soon as you step inside the library it’s important to put away your phone because it’s so easy to get distracted. I found that once I started to remove all the distractions around me I was more productive and got a lot more work done.

tip 4: doing other activities

Oftentimes students can feel overwhelmed and stressed out from their workload and need to participate in other activities. Doing something different can help reduce stress levels and increase productivity. When I was at university, doing sports helped me to reduce the stress that I was feeling. If you never find any time to forget about some of your assignments it can cause high levels of stress. A study by George Halkes and Dimitrious Bousinkas have found that high levels of stress can reduce productivity. Finding a new sport or hobby at university can also help you to make new friends. It could be something very active, such as playing squash or climbing, or something more relaxing such as joining the choir.


In order to stay productive

  1. Take regular breaks, here is the link to our Pomodoro timer Pomodoro Timer (techtimeout.co.uk)
  2. Have a proper sleep
  3. Remove all distractions
  4. Remember to do all activities

 These top tips, from the techtimeout student team, will help you to stay productive while completing university assignments.


1) How poor sleep affects employees | Benenden Health

2) Insomnia and daytime cognitive performance: A meta-analysis - ScienceDirect

3) The effect of stress and satisfaction on productivity | Emerald Insight