The Student Survival Guide to Productivity

Top view of a working place

Every student struggles with productivity. College is one of the first points in life where you have near full control over your own time. And while that freedom can feel great, balancing what you want to do and what you need to do can be a struggle.

Ever meet a fellow student who did more in a day than you could imagine doing in a week? Guess what skill they have? Time management. It might seem like a trait others just naturally have, but chances are, they’ve put time and effort into developing those skills. After all, who’s ever heard of a productivity prodigy.

No matter what level you’re studying at, time management is key. It’s something you’ll use throughout the rest of your life and career. So the earlier you develop these skills, the better.

It’s difficult, but don’t worry – we’re here to help

We’ve made this guide to break down the hows, whys, whats of being a productive student and to show how Toggl can help you develop the skills you need.

What Attributes Does A Productive Student Have?productive-student-working

How many times has someone told you that ‘cramming is a bad way to learn?’ 10, 50, 100 times? Doesn’t matter, because they’re right (and we’ve got the peer-reviewed research to prove it.)

When you study at regular intervals you’ll initially forget what you first learned between sessions. However, each time you relearn that information you’ll be creating pathways that will slow the rate you forget the information.

One thing great students generally have in common is their work habits. Consistency is key, as are starting early, staying focused, knowing how you work and planing ahead.

How Can I Use Toggl to Help?

There’s a few different ways you can use Toggl to form work habits. We’re going to look at 5 things Toggl can help address:

  1. Keeping focused
  2. Creating consistency
  3. Measuring your outputs
  4. Planning your time
  5. Facilitating group work

Keeping focused

Focus is the greatest hurdle most of us will face. With infinite distractions only a click away, keeping on the task at hand can feel impossible. Toggl’s got several features to make sure you stay on track.

Within the browser extension and desktop apps, you’re able to set up time tracking reminders. If the timer isn’t running, Toggl will send a reminder that you should be getting back to work (or at least tracking what you’re doing).


Pro Tip: If your doing any work offline, use the desktop app since this will catch you even when you may not have your browser open.


You can when reminders appear, as well as the start and end times. If you’re dedicating a day or time period to leisure time, you can change your auto reminder settings under ‘Preferences’. That way you won’t be bothered when you’re getting your well earned rest and relaxation.

Creating consistency

Human’s are terrible at estimating time. Time spent working is no exception. What may feel like hours of work, could have just been 20 minutes. Following timed work patterns will take out guess work and keep your focused.


One of the most popular ways to manage your time is the “Pomodoro” productivity method. For this technique, you work for 25 minutes, take a 5 minute break and repeat.

However for problem solving and writing tasks, 50 minutes of work followed by a 10 minute break is likely a better strategy. I would suggest playing around with the length to find your own optimal work breakdown.

Within Toggl you can enable the Pomodoro timer and customize the time periods to fit your needs. When you start tracking your time, the Pomodoro timer will also begin. After the designated time period, a notification will appear letting you know it’s time to take a break.


Pro tip: on the desktop app you can show timer on the menu bar so you can easily check how much time has passed.

By continually tracking your time whenever you open your computer to work, you’ll slowly start to form a habit of doing consistant and truly productive work.

Measuring your outputs

Once you’ve gotten into the habit of starting the timer and keeping focused, you’ll then have a record of how much time your spending on tasks. By comparing how much time your spending on project week to week, you can begin to develop a plan that will save you from a stressful work load when you head into essay and exam seasons.

You can also use tags to see what part of a project you’re spending the most time on – research, writing, editing etc.


Part of measuring your outputs is having accurate data This is where the idle detection comes in handy – if you’ve kept the timer running but left your computer, Toggl will detect that you’re idle and ask if you want to keep or discard that time.


Planning your time

Remember when we mentioned human’s are bad at estimating time (seriously, we’re awful), the same holds for the time it takes to finish a job. You may think you know how long it takes you to write a paper, but do you know for sure? Probably not.

Once you’ve gotten into the habit of starting the timer and doing focused work, you’ll begin seeing how long it really takes to finish tasks. That information will help you plan ahead since you’ll know how much time you need to allocate to future projects.

On the reports tab in Toggl, you can see a breakdown of how you’ve spent your time this week.student-time-toggl

You can also filter down by project, so you can dig into the details of your work habits.


With the data easily accessible, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions on how you should use your time.

Another great thing? Integrations.

If you’re using Todoist or Wunderlist to manage your to do lists, connect them with Toggl. This makes it easier to keep track of your tracked hours alongside task information. We also integrate with Evernote, making it simpler to remember to track your time while writing.

We’ve actually got over 85 integrations, so if you’re using a different productivity tool, there’s a good chance you can connect the two together.

Facilitating group work

Ah yes, group work. The idea of tying your grade to the work of others. Love it or hate it, it’s here to stay. All of us will need to work in teams at some point during our student careers.

Toggl can help take away stress through project management. By adding group members to your workspace, you can track time together, seeing who may need some motivation and making sure you’re on track for your deadlines.

Quick setup

Ready to get productive? Great! First thing you’ll need to do is create an account and enter some quick information.

For a student setup, we would suggest adding your courses under the ‘Clients’ tab so you’re able to organize your projects and tasks by class.


You can then add assignments under Projects.


Once you’ve finished adding the Client and Project information, you’re setup to start tracking! Choose your method (Desktop: Mac, Windows, Linux. Browser: Chrome, Firefox. Mobile: Android, Iphone or in app) and start the timer!

It’s that easy. Now get to work.

September 12, 2017