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They May Sound Strange, but if It Works, It Ain’t Stupid!

Let's face it, University life can be difficult at times, especially when it comes to being motivated to write long assignments or study for your exams.

Things can particularly be tough when your friends are out partying and enjoying themselves. Just the thought of that can easily lead you to lose motivation.

But it doesn't have to be this way!

I was a university student for 5 years, initially doing a 4-year undergraduate sandwich course and later a master's degree.

During my time at university, I used 3 productivity methods that not only helped me stay on track but also become more productive.

I decided it would be a good idea to share these 3 methods with you and help others in a similar boat. The best part of it is that these tips have the potential to help anyone, not just students!

So without any further ado, here are 3 productivity tips that helped me get through university...

1. Use a Calendar the correct way!

This may sound silly, but just using a calendar, without a strategy can actually have a negative impact on your productivity! It can lead you to become less motivated to do work and less motivated to even check it.

I don't recommend using a paper-based calendar or planner. I know that they can be pretty cool, but there's one thing that they can't do and that thing is keep you on track with reminders to do your work.

I recommend either using the iCloud Calendar app or the Google Calendar app. Both of these are equally as good and best of all, they are free!

In terms of strategy for managing my calendar, I still set aside around 30 minutes every Sunday evening to plan my entire week ahead.

Back at university, I would start by putting all of my lecturers and seminars into the calendar, I would then put all of the shifts in from my part-time job.

I would also put the times I wake up, and go to sleep as well as any routines and meals on the calendar.

With my main events of that week being on my calendar, I would plan my study time, I would dedicate a certain amount of hours for study and assignment work per day and leave 1 day in the week for fun.

I mainly planned for the weekdays to be my study days, with breaks on the weekends for my part-time job and rest, but sometimes this was just not possible.

I admit that initially, I found it difficult to follow the calendar, but with time it became routine.

Looking back, it does sound like overkill, but this strategy not only helped me get through university, but it's also helping me now with my full-time job and my side hustle.

2. Use the Pomodoro technique

This is possibly one of the best techniques I ever learned!

It basically involves setting a 25-minute timer where you can't do anything but the task you set out to do. When the 25 minutes is up, you are treated with a 5-minute break, where you walk away from your desk.  

This is another example of a technique that sounds silly, but trust me, when you're feeling unmotivated to work, it can have a massive impact on the amount of work you get done.

There are many ways you could go about this, you could simply start a timer on your phone, smartwatch or even your computer or you can use a dedicated app.

I recommend downloading an app called Forest, it's a brilliant app that you can download on iOS, Android and Google Chrome. It's perfect for those who find it difficult to stay away from their phones.

The concept is simple, when you start a 25-minute timer, you plant a virtual tree in your forest. If the timer finishes, you will have a fully grown tree, but if you interrupt the timer, the tree will die. The best part is, you can set the app to stop you from going into destructive apps.

Once your break is up, you plant another tree by starting the process again. Your forest can be used to see how productive you are and you can even plant real trees with it.

So you're effectively improving your productivity and helping the environment!

3. Find your working place

This is another great tip, especially if you're easily distracted.

I don't know why, but I always found it difficult to study at home, I guess there were too many distractions around me. Especially when I was working from my gaming PC.

I found that I was more productive when working at the university library with other people working around me. I would have my active-noise cancelling headphones in and everything, but seeing other people work motivated me to work.

That's why it's important to find a space where you're more productive. But I would go a step further and say that it's not only the space you work in, but also the equipment you use.

I don't know why, but I always found it difficult to do my coursework on Windows machines. I would always be more productive on Linux and MacOS. I know this sounds strange, but it worked and that's all that mattered.

As a bonus tip, if you can't work at the library, I would recommend playing a "Study with Me" video on YouTube. During the pandemic when the country was in lockdown, this helped me a lot.

I would literally play a video in the background of someone else studying and it motivated me to continue working.

Final Thoughts

There are many techniques that I used at university to help me stay on top of things, but these 3 techniques helped the most, especially when it was difficult to be motivated to work.

The funny is that these may not work for you and they may make things even worse, but if you don't try them, you won't know if they work! Our minds work in strange ways!

Now it's your turn, what are your 3 top productivity tips for university? Let us know in the comments!

Top 3 Productivity Tips That Helped Me Get Through University