Session’s about to kick off in 2020, and you’ve already promised yourself this year is going to be different – this is your year, and you’re going to make the most of it! Whether it’s your first year or your fourth, our study tips are the survival guide you need to get through your uni year in style.

1. Get organised

Most study tips are about the moment you sit down to pore over your books, but we’re big fans of preparation. Every subject has its own submission dates, lectures, readings, labs, placement, office hours – the list is endless. It’s too much to keep in your head, and if you try, you’ll turn up to a lecture one afternoon and realise the essay you thought was due next Tuesday was actually due today.

Lesley Knope in front of a pile of binders, saying

Channel your inner Lesley Knope, and grab yourself a planner (maybe one for your desk like redfries’ Monthly Planner, or a date-free diary like mishmash’s Free Planner) and fill in all your due dates for the semester. Highlight key dates and colour-code them so you can see what’s going on at a glance – that way, you can stay on top of everything, and save yourself from nasty surprises.

redfries monthly planner, on an A4 landscape sheet with a grid for each day of the month

redfries’ Monthly Planner never goes out of date, so you can personalise it to suit your needs

Check out some handy wall and desk planners, undated diaries and goal-setting notebooks to help you get organised

2. Take notes

If you struggle to keep your hands off your phone during lectures, you might be a chronic multi-tasker. Rather than reach for your phone, try pulling out your favourite pen and notebook combo, and jot down the two minutes of important details in your two-hour lecture. It’ll save you wracking your brain later, after you’ve walked out of the lecture theatre and your mind wipes itself clean.

Even if you’re just doodling in the margins, you’ll be surprised how much better you remember the lecture – turns out, keeping your hands busy lets your ears work a little harder.

For a super-comfortable pen that’s easy to hold through those long lectures, our favourite is the Safari rollerball from LAMY, or go for a touch of vintage sophistication with Ballograf’s stylish Epoca P Luxe.

The LAMY Safari rollerball pen laid on a notebook page, with its lid off and sitting next to it at an angle

Comfortable and easy to hold, the LAMY Safari is a great pen to get you through those long lectures

As for notebooks, you’re spoiled for choice! Whether you’d like something with a bit of character, like Decomposition Book’s spiral-bound Sunflowers, something more simple like Rhodia’s unpretentious Pad #18, or even something as timeless as Moleskine’s Classic Hard Cover Notebook, we’ve got the perfect notebook for you.

Decomposition Books Sunflower notebook, with a monochrome red sunflower illustration on the cover. The notebook is spiral bound, and laid on a wooden surface

Made from recycled paper, Decomposition Book notebooks have beautiful covers printed with soy inks.

Check out your notebook options, and find the right pen for you here.

3. Stay hydrated

Screenshot of the Twitter account @tinycarebot, advising "[tap emoji] Remember to take a bit of time to have some water please"

Us @ you

At the risk of sounding like a Mum (or a Twitch bot), drink more water! If you’re in the middle of a panic-cram the night before an exam, or you’re prepping for a presentation, you’re almost certainly not getting enough water, and $5 pints from the unibar aren’t a substitute. Grab yourself a reusable water bottle, and carry it everywhere you go so you’ve always got hydration in arm’s reach.

The memobottle range are eye-catching water bottles that are designed to fit neatly in your bag without taking up a ton of room – the A5 bottle is about the size of a book, to help it slot in alongside your notebooks, laptop, and everything else you need to fit in your bag.

A person holding an A5 memobottle to their chest in one hand, along with a notebook and a small purse

Slim and stylish, the A5 memobottle is a bag-friendly must-have.

Or if you like your water ice-cold, the Clima range from 24Bottles will keep yours frosty for up to 24 hours. Plus, it can keep hot drinks warm for 12 hours, so it’s great for the cooler months too.

24Bottles Clima in Candy Pink, shown partially frozen in pink ice

Stay cool with refreshingly frosty water from a Clima drink bottle

4. Get in the right headspace

The hardest part of any study session is getting started. When there’s always something more interesting going on in your Insta stories, or TikToks to catch up on, getting into the zone is tough! Starting with music can help set the tone – there’s always lofi hip hop radio – beats to relax/study to, Spotify’s Deep Focus playlist, or Study Beats on Apple Music to get you settled.

But there’s more to atmosphere than just sound – light a candle, or burn some incense, and you’ll find yourself relaxing into a more relaxed, focused mindset. Our Studio Milligram ‘Clarity + Calm’ Candle has a bright, refreshing fragrance that’ll help to reset your mind when things are getting stressful, or burn ‘Shoal’ incense to create an invigorating atmosphere to help you stay sharp.

Studio Milligrams Clarity + Calm candle, with the candle in glass) sitting on a grey surface next to its box. Both are decorated with earthy pinks and browns.

Take the edge off a stressful study session with a calming scent.

5. Take breaks

One of the study tips we learned the hard way: you can’t study forever, and a panicked 8-hour study binge is just going to wear you out. Research suggests a strategic break helps you learn better, and retain some of that textbook you’re trying to squish into your skull. Try a Pomodoro timer (there are tons of apps for every type of phone and laptop), and get yourself into a rhythm that works for you, balancing focus with the breaks your brain needs. And don’t forget to sleep!

Screenshot of's timer

Choose a Pomodoro timer (like to help get you in the right study rhythm

Studying is hard enough as it is, so hopefully our study tips help you make things a little easier for yourself. Good luck!