How To Be Most Productive

Being productive is hard, especially at Uni, given most of us don’t have more than around 20 hours of contact time a week! This leaves us with a lot of free time, which never really feels free due to the amount of independent work we “should” be doing. We’ve compiled some key areas you could focus on to be your most productive self, while still leaving time for having fun and being lazy (I mean we are still students…)

Your productive time

Working at the right times during the day is really important to be your most efficient. Most people already know if they’re a morning or an evening person, but it can be a bit more complex than that. A great way to figure out when your best hours for productivity are, is to pay attention to the way you’re working for the next week or so. When you’re having one of those moments where you’re whizzing through your workload effortlessly, take a moment and jot down the time of day and see if you can notice any patterns emerging. For example I work great in the mornings and evenings, but in the middle of the day I always notice my productivity dropping.

Work space

It may seem a bit obvious, but a clear space really does equal a clear mind. If you are struggling to push everything around to create a patch of space to sit on your bed with your laptop, this I’m sure will most likely not result in you bashing out that essay in record time. Try and keep a routine of keeping your desk (if you can’t face tidying your entire room) clear of mess, so you can always sit down and concentrate when you need to. Don’t use tidying your room an excuse not to do your essay though…we’ve all done it. Anything can be better than writing that dreaded 3000-word essay.


The release of serotonin will reduce your stress levels, giving you a better mindset to work in. The increase of blood flow to your brain will also make you more alert and energised, ready to tackle that pile of reading you need to get through. It’s great to exercise first thing in the morning, but it’s even better when you’re feeling drained and stressed to perk you up again.

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It’s been scientifically proven that listening to music increases productivity so if you don’t do it already, maybe you should try.

This list from the Telegraph of the best music for every kind of work is really handy:

However if you still find it distracting just don’t bother. I can only really listen to music when the work I’m doing requires minimal brain effort (which isn’t very often!)

Do the most boring stuff first so you don’t keep dreading it

Obviously you should always do the most urgent bits of work first, but if you’re struggling to prioritise your workload you should always start with the bits you want to do the least. If you keep putting them off it’ll seem harder and harder in your head until you end up with no time and a mega stressed student. (I think we can all relate to this…)

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Avoid your phone

Yes I know the group Whatsapp is blowing up and you need to stay involved, but having your phone next to you is a massive killer of productivity. Just move it to the other side of the room and only allow yourself to check it every half an hour. You’ll be amazed at how much quicker you’ll blast through your workload.

Get out

Some people swear they can only work in the library, but why not mix it up and try a local café or even a park if the weather’s nice. I personally hate the library, so when I’m feeling too stuffed up in my room I’ll head to a friend’s house to sit and work together. This is especially great if you’re on the same course, because you can work together, discuss ideas, and normally complete work a lot quicker. Divide and conquer!

Plan the night before

Ok this is a tough one for you spontaneous types, but just because it’s written down, it doesn’t mean it’s set in stone. If you make a list of the things you’ll like to do the next day before you go to sleep, you’ll be able to wake up and just jump into it. Don’t feel guilty if you only tick one thing off though, the fact that you wrote it down makes you conscious it needs doing, and the more you get into the habit, the better you’ll know how much you’ll realistically get done in a day.

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Do not disturb sign

If you find your housemates barging into your room at all hours of the day ruins your productive flow, just try a sign on your door to make sure they understand you need to be alone for a bit.

We love this cute one from Etsy:

Don’t multitask

Multitasking is the killer of productivity. Pick one thing you’re going to do, such as reading a paper, and eliminate all other distractions. Switching between tasks will stop you getting into that great work zone, and it’ll take you twice as long to get everything done. This doesn’t mean you can’t take breaks, it just means you should use the breaks to relax, not start doing something else like your laundry.

Bribe yourself with a reward

If you’re doing some really hard questions for a tutorial and it’s taking forever, why not try to motivate yourself with a reward? I love doing this and it really works well, especially during revision season. For example I’ll say once I’ve finished 3 questions I’m allowed to watch another episode of Prison Break on Netflix for the 100th time. Then when I’ve done another 3 I can have a bit of chocolate. It motivates you to work quickly and efficiently, which is really key for ultimate productivity.

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Make time for doing what you enjoy the most

Being at Uni isn’t just about doing the work, so make sure you don’t forget that. By working productively you’ll give yourself more time to do the things you love. Go see your friends, go on a mental night out, or watch an episode or two of Netflix (guilty). Make sure to keep a good balance between Uni work and Uni life, you’ll stay engaged when you do need to bash out some coursework.

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Good luck!

Podcasts to suit every kind of student

Podcasts are absolutely perfect for listening to on the walk to lectures, sat at home with a cuppa or to have on in the background when it’s your turn to clean the bathroom. The amount of podcasts that are available can be overwhelming and it can be difficult to choose where to begin. See which of these stereotypes you fit into and hopefully you’ll find the perfect podcast for you!

The gym bunny

Ben Greenfield fitness 

More than qualified for the job, Ben can act as your own personal trainer and you don’t even need to enter a gym. He has a great list of credentials including completing the Ironman, and he has even got two masters! The best part is he makes complicated information about human biology easy to digest, so you can focus on reaching your fitness goals.

The Jillian Michaels Show A lot of fitness bunnies are partial to a Jillian Michaels workout DVD, with her tough love approach and deadly routines. However her podcast is not quite what you’d expect, she talks about everything from love, professional life, as well as throwing in the odd health and fitness tip.

Bulletproof radio 

This podcast is run by Dave Asprey, a self-styled ‘biohack’ expert. He’s sharing his secrets on biochemistry to make you the best version of you possible. This podcast is perfect for those of you who want to be on your top biological form. The girl’s girl

Call your Girlfriend 

Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman are two best friends who essentially record their weekly catch-ups, which we get to listen in to. They speak frankly about anything and everything and it’s truly brilliant.


Two posh girls who write for the Sunday Times Style natter about current affairs, discussing everything from the Kardashians to facial hair. Really easy listening, and often very funny.

The creative soul


Perfect for aspiring journalists, this podcast features the best non-fiction writers around speaking about their careers and their writing. Really inspiring and also great for when you have writers block.

99% Invisible 

If you’re a design geek this podcast is totally perfect for you. The episodes are short, only about 10 minutes, and each one goes into the design of a certain object. The show has featured everything from flags to pinball machines. Wacky, but cool.

Wear your dreams 

Perfect for creatives hoping to work in the fashion space, Alice interviews inspiring women and grills them on their career path and how they found their way into their dream job.

The one that wants to keep learning

 TED talks 

The podcasts are pretty much as good as the videos and much more convenient to consume anywhere and everywhere. The wide range of topics make this perfect for pretty much anyone…great for dipping your toes in the podcast world if you’re a newbie.

Stuff You Missed in History Class 

Great for when you’re feeling a little nerdy, this podcast rounds up some of the lesser-known moments in history, such as when the US tried to start a hippo farm to solve their meat crisis.

Radio lab 

One of the most popular podcasts in the world, it’s pitched as a “show about curiosity”. The best thing about it is you’re learning without actually feeling like you’re learning. If only all our lectures were as slick as this…

The music guru

Desert Island Discs 

A beautiful classic with hours and hours of podcasts you can listen to. Some of the best include: Jarvis Cocker, David Nott, Emma Thomspon and Bill Nye. David Beckham was even interviewed for its 75th anniversary.

Song Exploder  

This podcasts dissects songs with the musician, getting into the nitty gritty of how it was composed. Great for those of you who obsess over the minor details in songs.

The Sporkful 

“Not for foodies, it’s for eaters”. Dan Pashman brings great people on to the podcast to talk about small, yet interesting things about food. For example, in a recent podcast Pashman and L.V Anderson passionately ‘discussed’ the differences between hash browns and home fries. To be honest give me either and I’m happy.

Burnt Toast 

Hosted by Kenzi Wilbur, the managing editor of food blog Food52. The episodes usually involve some spirited debate about how to cook and eat properly, which is totally perfect for you opinionated foodies.

The one that wants a good lol

My Dad wrote a porno 

Totally hilarious and a must listen. Jamie Morton reads out chapters from an erotic book his 60-year-old dad wrote with his friends James Cooper and Alice Levine. The best thing about it is his poor Dad having pretty much no basic understanding of the female anatomy.

 Friday Night Comedy from BBC Radio 4 

Kinda like Have I Got News for you, but in podcast form. This show is professionally produced, has a live audience and is always funny (and a bit educational…)

No Such Thing As A Fish 

Hosted by four of the researchers from QI, they unload their fact-packed brains of brilliant and hilarious factoids they’ve learned each week.

The sparky entrepreneur

 ASOS My Big Idea 

Each week an editor from ASOS speaks to a female entrepreneur who’s started her own business. The conversations are easy going and relatable, but still super inspirational, especially if you dream of running your own business one day.

Marketing School

Hosted by Neil Patel and Eric Su, they make marketing techniques that seem complicated and overwhelming super simple. The best thing is each episode is only 10-minutes long, so you can learn a little bit everyday without it taking up too much time.

Girlboss Radio

Although Sophia Amoruso lost her first company Nasty Gal, her new venture #GIRLBOSS is so much better. She interviews really amazing women every week and tries to extract key insights into their lives, finding out what has made them successful. Sometimes rather philosophical, but always motivating.  The #inspo hungry one

 The Time Ferriss Show

The author of The Four Hour Work Week talks about productivity and personal development with various guests on each show. On some shows it is just him talking about his own experiences, these are particularly great and certainly inspired me! It’s perfect for motivation on those days you’re feeling a bit down.

The Life Coach School

Brooke Castillo shares her knowledge on life lessons in everything from training your brain to weight loss. The podcast essentially teaches you how to be your own life coach, which is pretty cool and very useful.

 School of greatness

Long interviews and inspiring guests who really open up to Lewis about the ups and downs in their lives. There’s loads of variety between the guests, so you’ll be sure to find a few you’ll love!