Any views expressed within media held on this service are those of the contributors, should not be taken as approved or endorsed by the University, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the University in respect of any particular issue.

Student Stories

Student Stories

Blogs and vlogs from students of the University of Edinburgh

How to get stuff done when you have a disability…

Desk with paper work and sun shining across it.
Reading Time: 3 minutes

…by Kit / from Belgium / studying History (MA) / 3rd year

Being at university, there’s always a time when we struggle to get work done. As a disabled student, this can be doubly true. Whether that’s due to ADHD goblin brain or bad health days, the tips and tricks below can help you stay on track.

Getting a schedule of adjustments

First things first. If you have a disability, get in touch with the Disability and Learning Support Service (DLSS) as soon as possible to talk about how they can support you. This could potentially be assistive software, proofreading services, a study skill tutor, additional time to complete assignments, etc. This is all individually based on your needs and the list above is just a few examples of what help I personally have gotten.

Break down tasks into smaller tasks

Seeing the list of assignments pile up at the beginning of each semester can be overwhelming. ‘Write 2000 word essay’ is a very vague task and it’ll be multiplied by however many assignments you have. Where do you even start? My advice? Break. It. Down. And be as precise as is useful for you. For example:

  1. chose a topic/question
  2. look for sources
  3. read the sources (break it down by individual source)
  4. take notes on sources

I recently discovered a free online tool that does that for you and you can even choose how in detail it’ll break the tasks down and even break down subtasks afterwards. It’s called and is an absolute life saver, especially when you’re just starting out and are not sure what steps you need to complete your tasks.

Use all the tools at your disposal to make your life easier

When you tend to get easily distracted or only have that much energy to spare in a day or have to account for bad days where you can’t do anything, it means you need to use your time wisely and as such any tool that saves you time will be welcome.

At uni, you’ll spend the majority of your time reading sources and referencing back to them. A great time saver is Zotero. It’s a free research tool that helps you organise your sources. To get the most out of it, combine it with it’s browser extension and Word plugin. With these, it’ll let you automatically add a source to your Zotero database directly for any library catalogue or archive and then cite them back in the proper format in your Word document, saving you a great amount of time on doing this manually. You can also add PDFs of your sources directly into Zotero and use it’s great annotation function and potentially link it to note taking apps like or to collate your notes when it’s time to write that essay.

Read with purpose

Similarly to the above, to use your time wisely you need to read with a specific purpose. You’ll be tempted to read all of it and read it in depth. Don’t. Generally, for tutorials and seminars you’ll have guided questions. Use those to first skim the readings and find relevant passage to answer those questions, look for key words you think you add to those, and if you already know your essay question look for anything that might stand out as useful. For essay readings or anythings where you’ll need to do more reading and/or more in depth start by reading the introduction & conclusion of the book/chapter/article. If it doesn’t mention things that are relevant then discard it. If it does, then continue by reading the first and last paragraph and so forth. It’s a great way to weed out irrelevant sources and to only read in depth what you’ll actually use/find useful, thus saving you a lot of time.

Don’t forget self-care and to manage your expectations

Finally, it’s really important that you don’t forget to look after yourself. It can be tempting to do as much as you can when you can, but if you over do it, it’ll just potentially push you back and leave you less time to do the work at a manageable pace. Do your best, within your capabilities and ask for help when you need it. Your Student Adviser and the DLSS are there to help and will point you in the correct direction if they aren’t the ones that can help in your particular case.

Want to find out more?

Chat with Kit

Leave a reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>


Report this page

To report inappropriate content on this page, please use the form below. Upon receiving your report, we will be in touch as per the Take Down Policy of the service.

Please note that personal data collected through this form is used and stored for the purposes of processing this report and communication with you.

If you are unable to report a concern about content via this form please contact the Service Owner.

Please enter an email address you wish to be contacted on. Please describe the unacceptable content in sufficient detail to allow us to locate it, and why you consider it to be unacceptable.
By submitting this report, you accept that it is accurate and that fraudulent or nuisance complaints may result in action by the University.