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Productive study tips from a PhD student

4 mins read

Is lockdown starting to get to you? Are you drowning in written work? Maybe you have a few deadlines coming up. Maybe you have an oral presentation.

Whatever the case, you are not alone. A lot of us are feeling isolated, distressed or simply frustrated. This can have an impact on our work ethic and our motivation.

It might be that our study environment simply isn’t ideal. You might be someone that prefers to work with music, background noise, or you might prefer to work in complete silence.

Here are some tips on how to make your study time more productive.

The beautiful thing about the Internet is that so much information and resources are available to us. And studying is no different.

If you are someone that likes working with background noise, a brilliant website called may be worth checking out. You can choose from lots of different background noises to have on while you study.

Miss the office? You can choose office noise to have on in the background. Maybe you like natural sounds such as rain, or the ocean waves. There’s something there for everyone.

Sometimes we like a bit of variety. I know that I switch to my Spotify playlist from time to time, but it also depends on how I am feeling. The important thing is to find what works for you.

We all need to take breaks from time to time. But some of us simply forget to take some time to stretch or move after a while.

I recommend downloading an app called Stretchly. Every 10 minutes it will notify you to take a short break for 20 seconds, and every 30 minutes, it will tell you to take a five minute break.

What’s more, the app also gives you suggestions of how to spend your breaks. I find it’s a really good way to help me stay productive and to avoid overworking.

It’s a good way to get a nice stretch if you can, or grab a cup of tea/coffee.

If you are looking to brush up on your oral presentation skills, there is something for you as well. You can record yourself speaking alongside your slides. This is brilliant because it allows you to practice your pace and timing, especially if you have a time limit for your presentation.

You can record on each slide. The idea is to practice, practice until you can give your talk comfortably and to your given time limit.

I definitely find that having the option to record myself speaking alongside my slides makes me more productive. I’ve been able to submit pre-recorded presentations, which removes the pressure of doing it in front of an audience.

You should still be prepared to answer questions from a live audience, even if you submit a pre-recorded presentation.

As a final productive tip, it is good to organise any tasks you have, and break down big tasks into smaller ones. For example, if you have an Introduction chapter to write, thinking about it all at once can make it look harder than it is.

Breaking it up into sections and sub sections, however, makes it much easier to focus on each point in depth and provide an overall structure to your work. You can always take breaks between writing different points.

These are all tips that I use when I write my papers.

Keep going. Don’t give up. Your hard work will be worth it in the end.

Feature image credit: Pexels

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PhD - Environmental Science. Aspiring research scientist. Like to blog things science, and how it affects us.

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