We are always being told that less is more in life, so when it comes to work and study, we are very keen to know how to put this into practice!

Working smarter means that you can be more effective when it comes to studying and getting tasks completed. It allows you to get more done in less time, as well as being more focussed and motivated.

Organising your time well, using effective tools to help you and avoiding distractions are some of the most important methods to implement into your work schedule, and in this article, we offer insight and tips to help you use these techniques while at uni.


Know yourself

The start of a new year is a popular time to make plans and goals, but there is no use in making them if you know deep down that you won’t stick to them. So, now’s the time to really get to know yourself and how you work best.

Note the times of day/week/month when you feel you have the most energy or feel most creative and schedule in time to work at those times. There’s no point sitting down to study if you tired or not in the right frame of mind.

Maybe you are an early riser and wake feeling fresh and raring to go in the mornings, or perhaps you are a night owl and feel you come alive when the lights fade. Once you have determined your natural rhythms and peaks, and carefully plan your assignments around them, you will notice that your working time becomes much more effective.


Learn to say no

When you’re a student living in Leeds, we know that distractions are everywhere! It’s easy to say yes to everything and end up with the world’s busiest social calendar, but no time to study.

As hard as it can be sometimes, there is a need to know your limits and learn to say “no” to certain invitations. Make sure your “yes” replies are conscious decisions and fit in with your schedule, and then when you say “no” be sure to really mean it, so people know not to try and change your mind! If you are wanting to find balance and a smarter schedule, then this is definitely a crucial student wellbeing technique to learn.


Batch your to-do-list

When planning in your work schedule, it’s sometimes useful to batch tasks together instead of flitting from one thing to another, which can be confusing and chaotic.

Grouping similar tasks together saves time and the mental overload of having to start a completely new task over again. You could deal with your email replies and Outlook admin together, search for imagery or graphics all at one time and then do all your research for a specific topic in one chunk, instead of breaking it up and doing as you go. You will find that it also feel very satisfying to complete a whole category of tasks together that you can tick off your list.


Try new working techniques

There are many time management techniques that can help you smarten up the way you work. One such technique, known as the Pomodoro is really popular with both students and professionals as a way of managing both workload and wellbeing.

The Pomodoro Technique involves organising your day so that you work in four twenty-five-minute sessions with a five-minute break in between each one. You should set a timer for twenty-five minutes and when it is up, whatever you are doing, you stop and take a rest. Take a five-minute relaxation break doing something that is not work related like a stretch, a snack, a silence break, or list to a podcast. Then after five minutes on the timer, start on your next Pomodoro (twenty-five-minute session). When you’ve completed four pomodoros, you then take a longer 15-30-minute break where you can get lunch, take a walk or go for a run.


Break the phone-checking habit

We all know we shouldn’t, but that urge to check our Instagram account or the latest sale items at Zara is sometimes just a bit too strong to ignore. In order to get out of the habit of checking your phone during study time, you might have to take a more drastic approach.

Leaving your phone in another room, preferably on another level of your student house, is one option (or in your bag if you are studying from the library). Otherwise set the downtime scheduler on your phone, which will prevent you from logging onto any apps or searching the web during pre-specified times.

If the distraction is still there, turn off your phone altogether or give it to a friend or housemate to guard. You could organise a swop, so you take someone else’s phone to guard while they have yours so that neither of you can give into the temptation!


Be sure to check out our other blog articles for more helpful student tips, hacks and accommodation advice.