How To: finding balance in your productivity

By Gabbie Wright |

It may seem as though this first term has gone by in the blink of eye, but here we are at the end nonetheless. Whether you’re back at home now, or still down in Cornwall, the end of 2020 is upon us all and has for many seemed a long-awaited dream. As ever with the holiday festivities comes a distant lurking of January deadlines and exams; always appearing so far off it’s a common practice to enjoy the Christmas period in an ignorant bliss, only to then realise you have four weeks of revision materials to go over and an essay due imminently.

By the time we reach uni many assume the balance between relaxation and hard work has been found — how very wrong that is, I say, sat writing this in bed at 3pm. So for those of you, like me, that could use a few genuine words of support and encouragement: here are some preach-worthy practices for a productive holiday break.

Break things down

When you’re taking three different modules, each with their own deadlines, your workload can seem far too big to tackle… And it is, all in one go at least. The best way to ensure your productivity over the holidays is to do something each day. As simple as it may seem, getting a hold of the tasks that need doing and prioritising your plan of action is crucial to staying on top of everything. Whether you make to-do lists, mind maps, or keep up-to-date in your Google calendar, if you have a single place to record all of your assignments and other tasks you will find it far easier to work through them and keep track of your progress.


Listing, as above, is such a proactive technique for getting things done. They can give you a serious motivation boost, even if you’re just tackling smaller tasks to get something out of the way. Making to-do lists and lists of your bigger goals are both brilliant ways to feel better about your workload, especially when you can tick a few things off at the end of the day.

Get yourself ready to focus

Whether you need to eat or drink, have a playlist on in the background, or set up a specific focus app to help you stay on task, all of the above are worth trying. Remember not to be too hard on yourself; everyone works differently and whilst some can sit for six hours straight, others can only research for twenty minutes each evening.

  • Clean/clear your workspace.
  • Put something comfortable on and ensure you’re comfortable at your workspace.
  • Find a calm environment with no distractions.
  • Have everything you need to prevent you running around the house finding resources.
  • Put your phone on Do Not Disturb mode, or turn it off.

Here are a couple of my other recommendations to motivate and help you focus:


Flora by AppFinca | Trees for the Future / Flora Sponsors

Free in the App Store for iPhone and Android

You grow your garden as you work, planting a new tree when you start your session until your set timer finishes and it flourishes into a specific species. Plus, if you end your timer early you kill a tree — motivation enough to stick to your Shakespeare?


The most popular home meditation and wellness app, for free. This is excellent for those that suffer with extended periods of work-related stress and anxiety, with a huge range of classes; whether you need to re-focus yourself for ten minutes after a lunch break, or you need something to help you sleep after a hectic day, Headspace offers professional mindfulness sessions to ensure you can bring your best self to your work.

Spotify Focus

This is a specific genre available on Spotify that contains a variety of different playlists to suit your working environment. Ranging from classical piano to chart acoustics, this Spotify collation is perfect to keep the essay anxieties at bay.


This free workout app is available to all iPhone and Android devices.

It’s perfect for breaks, morning or evening sessions, and really helps to structure your day more generally. Plus, if you’ve had enough of your coursework but feel too guilty to head straight to Netflix, the workouts provided range from 6-26 minutes and you can stack them to suit your needs. It’s super hard right now not being able to walk from the library to the gym for a change of scenery and to break up the day, but FitOn can be used in your uni flat or in the living room at home to give you the exercise fix you want without any subscription or deposit.

Find FitOn here:

Rests and Rewards

Arguably the most important aspect of continued productivity over the holiday period is finding the will to keep going, in spite of the Harry Potter marathons and Christmas shopping deals available to you. In order to ensure you can keep up a good momentum, you have to stay in a positive headspace and understand you can only do so much at once or in a day. Rewarding yourself with a movie of an evening, or taking a day off to prioritise the wrapping is perfectly fine and there’s no reason to deny yourself of those things so long as you remember to return to the other things on your to-do list afterward.

Finally, enjoy the holidays. Just because you have an essay due in January doesn’t mean it should monopolise your time at home now. Find a balance that works for you, whether or not the suggestions above help, and just do what you can as best you can.

Happy Holidays!