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Study tips: how to improve your productivity and stay motivated





Reading Time: 3 minutes

It’s a key topic all year round: how to improve your productivity and stay motivated to keep procrastination at bay and meet those deadlines.

Short and sweet study tips are a dime a dozen, but often they don’t help us address our barriers to studying and how we can overcome them to be more productive. What even is studying?! We’re here to help you understand how you study, what can impact your productivity, and share practical tips for staying on-track and motivated no matter how big that mountain of assignments.

Understanding how you study

Read the questions below and think about how you best process information.

  • How do you best process information: are you visual or auditory, written or imagery/diagrams?
  • Study aids and plans: have you tried these and are they effective for you?
  • Do you like to use coloured pens, flash cards, and post it notes?
  • When are you most productive: are there times of day you have observed when you focus best?
  • How long are you usually able to concentrate for?


Factors that can impact concentration, attention & memory:

  • Neurology: history of head injury/ADHD/ASD
  • Sleep
  • Overall health
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Lowered Mood
  • Alcohol/substance use/stimulant use
  • Life transitions: grief, loss, change
  • Loneliness
  • Connection to your course and chosen study
  • Medication and health conditions

Things to help address study roadblocks:

  • Nourishment
  • Hydration
  • Good sleep habits
  • Movement and exercise
  • Fresh air and regular daylight (vitamin D)
  • Addressing stressors
  • Connecting with others
  • Downtime and targeted time out (away from devices and tech)


Planning, starting, and executing tasks

Some of us have a history of difficulty planning and getting started with study tasks, finding that overwhelm or anxiety about results can impact our ability to get moving. So here are some practical tips to help:

  • Get chunking. Break down study and assignments into smaller steps if needed. This is referred to as ‘chunking’.
  • Put pen to paper. Write it down what you have to do or draw it using boxes to represent task steps.
  • Gradually ease yourself in. Just sit at your desk, read a chapter, and then begin to plan the outline of your assignment. Don’t dive straight in.
  • Try and designate an area you associate with study, i.e. a desk, rather than using different locations.This may help you with focus and also to have effective breaks away in areas you don’t then associate with study (e.g. your bed, sofa, etc).
  • Take regular breaks. Fresh air and a walk can positively impact your concentration, attention, and processing of information.
  • Make a list of what you’ll focus on in each study session – and make this realistic. Just 1 or 2 things, such as make a reading list or write headings for an assignment, can be a huge help. It will help with overwhelm and avoidance of studying when you have too much to realistically achieve at one time.
  • Be kind to yourself. You may not get everything done, come back to it if you need.
  • Talk to your tutor. If you need more time to complete an assignment or are overwhelmed, be sure to communicate this to the relevant course or personal tutor.
  • Plan a little reward for finishing a set task. If you have a history of finding starting tasks difficult, then reward yourself for creating a study plan or even spending a small amount of time on a task to begin with.
  • Remember self-compassion. Doing a degree and being away from home can be tough at times. Be kind to yourself if there are times you find studying and assignments hard to complete.
  • Reach out. Universities have excellent support mechanisms for students. Don’t sit on concerns about your progress or study habits.


Finally, how to strike a study/life balance

  • Remember to look after your overall wellbeing
  • Monitor for overwhelm and possible burnout
  • Remember to make time for yourself and valued activities
  • Sleep, nourishment, hydration, and exercise are basic ingredients for good overall wellbeing
  • Avoid using caffeine as a means of aiding concentration
  • Be kind – small steps – seek help if needed


And that’s it! All of Dr Tara’s top tips for improving your productivity and motivation around study. Good luck!

P.s. If you’re a Nido resident, make sure to download the Nido App and check out the Wellbeing Hub for more sleep-related and wellbeing resources curated with Dr Tara Quinn-Cirillo.


Want to join the Nido family? Check out our residences across Europe or get in touch with us today and a member of our friendly team will be more than happy to help.

Nido x Dr Tara-Quinn Cirillo