5 top tips for tackling university assignments

Posted on behalf of Laura Burden.


Well it’s been a couple of weeks now since freshers and I hope you are all settling in well! Whether it’s your first year or your last, I find it always takes a few weeks to get into a suitable routine. Classes are well underway now and many of you will have been given details about your assignments and/or exams for the upcoming year. Over the next few months there’ll be plenty to do and getting started early means you can always stay ahead of the game! Here’s my top 5 tips for staying awake, organised and motivated, so you can complete your studying and assignments.

  1. Stay hydrated


Unfortunately, this doesn’t include wine or Jaeger. In fact, when studying it’s best to drink only water and plenty of it. Of course, squash and fruit juices work nearly as well. But as for fizzy drinks, energy drinks and alcohol, these are all best avoided. Although it might seem productive to neck some Coca Cola or Monster, these drinks give you a short-term boost using sugar and/or caffeine, which is bad for your health and in the long run will leave you even more tired. Since a large portion of your brain is water, drinking enough water is essential for keeping your mind active.

  1. Take breaks

Sheffield Botanical Gardens 🙂 #sheffield #beautiful #rubberduck

A photo posted by Laura Burden (@laura.burden) on

This doesn’t mean you can do 10 minutes, write an introduction and you’re done for the day! But I’d recommend taking a 10-minute break for every 2 hours of work you do. That’s 10 minutes away from the area where you’ve been working. This time allows you to gather your thoughts, grab a snack, refill your drink and nip to the loo before getting back to it. If you’re finding it particularly hard to concentrate or get motivated to get much done, head outside for half an hour. Whether it’s a quick jaunt to the shop for some milk or a walk around a nearby park, some fresh air can help clear away the cobwebs.

  1. Get comfortable

I find that when the environment I’m working in is clean, tidy and quiet, there’s much more chance I won’t get distracted. It might seem pointless to put away your clothes and hoover your room before settling down at your desk to do some work, but it means you won’t have an excuse to get up and start tidying later just because it’s there. Wear comfortable clothes and make sure you’re seating position is suitable. Sometimes even though you’re comfy, a change of scenery can be just what you need to keep things fresh. Rather than staring at the same four walls of your room, head to a communal area (if it’s quiet), or there’s plenty of places you can study at the University – whether it’s a study nook in Owen, a course area in Cantor or the Adsetts library, there’s plenty of places on both campuses you can get work done.

  1. Make a to-do list

HOW TO ORGANIZE YOUR STUDY SPACE? @veronicahollingshead asked me how to create a peaceful study place. My desk is a mess after studying, but when I start I like to clean it up so there won't be any distractions! 1. The less color, the better. Colors can be such a distraction and if you don't have a lot of color going on you can concentrate a lot better on your work. I also like to use a different color for every subject. In this photo I was busy with International law and I only use orange and red colors. I know a lot of people use color codes but I prefer this method. 2. The only things that should be on your desk are the things you need at the moment. Something to write with, something to write on, if you need it a laptop/computer, your planner and books. That's probably all you need. So put all the other things away, like in your drawer. 3. I like to keep a bottle of water or a glass of water on my desk to keep hydrated. It doesn't distract you but helps to focus you and stay awake! 4. Don't stress out if your desk gets messy while studying. It's okay. You need your things and you can clean up afterwards. 5. If you want to, you can add some cute stuff to make it a bit more personal. I have a little candle and a retro phone on my desk and because they are in neutral photos they don't distract me ! I hope these tips help you out a little bit! (The picture is mine)

A photo posted by WAYS TO STUDY (@ways.tostudy) on

I know it sounds like a cliché but it does help. Note down a list of things to do, whether it’s for the whole week or the one day, jot down what you want to get down and enjoy the feeling you get when you get to cross something off your list. For one thing, it means you remember to do the smaller things such as send an email or collect a book from the library and it also means you can see everything you need to get done. For added effect, put your to-do list in order so that you can prioritise certain tasks.

  1. Reward yourself

Decent lighting mate. #DJ #DJs #deck #plug #photo #photography #photooftheday #music #club #edm #sick #instacool #instagood #awesome #love #crowd #party

A photo posted by Joshua Evers Video/Photography (@joshuaeversvideoandphotography) on

You’ve been in a clean and tidy room for most of the day, drank plenty of water and eaten well, you went to the shop for a few essentials when you hit a wall at around 3pm and now you’re winding up for the day. It’s dinner time and you’ve just ticked the last job off your to-do list for the day, you’ve even done a to-do list for tomorrow! At this point it’s important to treat yourself. There’s still a way to go before your assignments are done, and every day new things are added to your list of things to think about but, you’ve done well today so, treat yourself! Spend a few hours on your Xbox, watch a few episodes of the latest Netflix hit, get comfortable with a cup of tea and your favourite novel or head out for the night with friends.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my top tips for tackling assignments and can take something useful from it. Good luck with everything and remember to keep going. It might be tempting to sit in a corner rocking from side and side and weeping, but… the power to succeed is in your hands!

Laura Burden