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Student Tips for Productivity: How to Stay Focused While Studying

Thursday 13th June 2024

It’s common for students to find themselves easily distracted or veering off course while trying to study and learn. The weight of our responsibilities can often feel overwhelming, leaving us with a daunting to-do list and insufficient time to tackle it all. 

While academic success remains a priority, it’s equally as important for students to prioritise maintaining a healthy sleep schedule, working on social connections with friends, and carving out personal time for their rest. But achieving this balance takes a lot of effort. One important strategy is to make the time you spend studying more productive and effective. Here are our best productivity tips to help you make that happen.

What is productivity as a learner?

Before getting into how you can make yourself more productive, it’s important to fully understand what that entails for a student. Productivity means ‘the efficiency of production’ — it’s the relationship between the input and output of one’s work. For students, it relates to applying effort into revising and learning new information, and trying to maximise how much they get out of that process.

For example, productive students pay full attention in their classes so they don’t miss any key information, thoroughly write and review their own notes on each subject, and prioritise periods of uninterrupted studying. 

How to study productively

Effective study habits and a structured routine are essential for productive studying. These are our best productivity hacks for students to help promote study success.

Set realistic study goals

Setting up goals before each term starts and drafting up a study timetable is very helpful. Receiving great marks isn’t always easy, so specifically outlining how you are going to get there will help you know what your short-term and long-term goals are. For example, you may want to set a goal of studying two hours per day for each subject and then drafting up a timetable of what content will be studied in that time frame. Try and build your study timeline in accordance with your assessments and tasks.

Track your time and take breaks

You can use a clock app to manage your time and free yourself from distractions. People tend to work best when they focus for 25 minutes, take a mindful 5 minute break, and then repeat. It’s crucial when you take a break that you don’t just look at your phone, but instead get up and go for a short walk to let your mind rest, or have a little bite to eat to re-energise. 

Students who try to cram for hours do not perform as well because their brains can only handle so much new information before it hits overload. Having a regular break and being aware of your time management is crucial for success and efficiency.

Break up your tasks

Breaking down a big project into smaller, more manageable tasks will be beneficial. If the overall goal is to produce a final essay, write the main topics that need to be included, then complete a draft, take time to revise it, and finally finish it off by completing the final essay. Allocating time blocks for smaller tasks will help students achieve the primary, larger task that might have seemed daunting at the start.

Reduce screen time and distractions

One of the hardest things to learn is how to study effectively at home when there are so many potential distractions. To combat this, make sure you are in a quiet, clean space where you can focus when you are about to start studying. Having a TV on in the background, a phone lighting up with notifications, or people chatting around you will be very distracting if you are trying to study productively.

Instead, you want to be in a place where you won’t be tempted to strike up a conversation with someone or get distracted by social media. It’s important to silence your phone, take time for yourself, and get focused.

Set yourself deadlines

With your study habits aligned, you will then feel confident to set deadlines. If an essay is due on the last day of the month and you know it will take multiple days, it’s recommended that you start it a week or two in advance so you aren’t cramming the night before. Similarly, if you keep a study diary with the dates of all of your SACs and other assessments, you’ll have a clear idea of when you need to have revised the necessary concepts and key information.

Setting personal deadlines of when you want to get particular parts of the paper done will motivate you to do it and maximise your productivity. Manage your deadlines in a calendar so you can stay consistent and aware of what’s needed to be worked on.

Get plenty of sleep and stay healthy

Healthy brain function is linked to both rest and healthy eating. Getting 8 hours or more of sleep will help to relax the mind and rejuvenate students for the next day. Incorporating daily exercise, stretching, or meditation can also have positive effects on one’s overall health. Students who stay up most of the night will have significantly less energy, motivation, and brain power to get them through the following day, so sacrificing sleep isn’t a recommended tactic. 

Additionally, a nutritious and balanced diet is necessary to fuel high energy levels. Eating lots of protein, vegetables, and grains will sustain you longer to study and help you reach your optimal health.

Productive study tip for high school

At St Francis Xavier College, we value our students’ wellbeing both in and out of the classroom. We want them to succeed in all aspects of their lives and to work productively towards their goals. That’s why we prioritise providing resources and support to help students thrive academically, emotionally, and socially.

Check out our other news articles for other tips for school, including information on study tips for exams and prioritising your mental health and wellbeing.