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Increasing your productivity

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Published: 23 April 2020

Study set up of a University of Sunderland in London student

It can be difficult to be productive and stay motivated at the moment. You might have noticed added pressure, especially from social media, to do ‘more’ with your time. While it’s important to keep yourself occupied, try to allow a little more flexibility. The Health and Wellbeing team have put together some tips to increase your productivity while at home.


Having a clear structure and focus for your day can help make lockdown less difficult. During these times it’s hard to keep up our ‘normal’ routines and adjust to the new pace of life. Let’s start by looking at where the day ends - with sleep.

We all know getting enough sleep is important, but did you know that keeping to the same sleeping routine can help you to be more productive? Try not to go on your phone or any other electronic device at least 30 minutes before you go to bed. The light of the device will trick your mind into thinking that it is day time and will prevent you from sleeping. Read more about getting a good night's sleep.

As well as going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day, think about keeping the same pattern for meals and snacks as well. Keeping your blood sugar at a steady level helps you to be more productive. Try to avoid snacks like sweets and chocolates that will give you sugar highs and lows. Keep your body moving too.

Achievable goals

As we said earlier, it’s important to occupy our time. But it’s also important not to set unrealistic expectations. You can’t work from 9am to 5pm with no breaks. Setting achievable goals means you can hit your targets and feel good about yourself.

Try and focus on SMART goals, that means goals that are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Plan plan plan

Having plans can make you feel more in control and less stressed. That could include everything from your daily routine, to your social calendar and your study schedule. Get yourself a diary, or download one on your phone, to set reminders and break down tasks into manageable. Try making a to-do list for yourself. Ticking tasks off will give you a real sense of achievement.

Protect your mental health

Working from home can make it hard to ‘switch off’ at the end of the day because your work environment and your home environment is the same. A 2017 UN study found that remote workers are more likely to suffer from stress as work and family life become blurred. 

To fight this, when you finish work for the day, try and do something you enjoy. This could be reading a book, listening to a podcast or watching an episode of your favourite TV show. It’s important to spend time catching up with friends and family where possible. But try not to only talk about Coronavirus. Instead, take an interest in how they’re doing and what they have been up to.

Don’t overload yourself

If you have lots of different tasks make sure you finish one before starting another. Having too many things on the go can make you feel overwhelmed and as trick you into thinking you aren’t achieving. Find more tips for studying smarter at home.

Do the hardest stuff first

Sometimes it’s better to just throw yourself into a task. It can be too easy to put off the more difficult ones. 

Block your time

Working in smaller time blocks is a good way to structure your time and increase productivity. You can assign a task to a block of time, that way you are breaking down the task into a smaller, more achievable goals. Research has shown that we are more productive if we give ourselves less time to do something (within reason). That’s why some companies and countries have introduced a six-hour working day.


If you like listening to music while working, think carefully about what kind. You aren’t going to be able to concentrate on writing an essay if you are listening to something you can’t help but sing along to. Research has shown that classical music, particularly Mozart, has all the components to help you concentrate while you study. Find playlists for studying.

Take a break from the screen

Taking breaks away from the screen is important. Try and switch off for a bit, get out into the fresh air and change your surroundings. We’re still allowed out once a day for exercise, so make you use this time.