1. Establish a Dedicated Place to Study.
Set up a place in your house or apartment that is dedicated to participating in class and studying. This place should be quiet so you can focus on the tasks at hand rather than the distracting noises around the house. It is best to avoid your bedroom and the living room if possible. One reason is that this affects your neck and back. Another reason is that our body associates your bedroom with rest, so studying in it does not put you in the right mindset to study effectively. Furthermore, when it is time to go to bed, your brain can begin to associate your bed with working rather than sleeping if you do not distance yourself when it comes to studying.
2. Experiment with Your Study Place.
While it is wise to pick a place and stick with it, it is okay to move around and try different spots (especially at the beginning of the online transition). We are all different after all. If you find that background sound is best for you, turn on the TV in the background. Try a different room if the one you’re in is not quite working out! There is no concrete answer for the best way to study from home, but hopefully these tips can help guide you to the most comfortable situation for you.
3. Soak Up the Sun.
Try to get as much natural light as possible in your study space. With sunlight comes a healthy supply of Vitamin D which prevents feelings of weakness and depression. Natural light is proven to keep you more focused on whatever task you may be working on. It also relieves stress and helps boost your immune system.
4. Avoid People and Pets.
If possible, in times of study your focus should be fully on the subject at hand. Whether it be a significant other, a friend, or a child, try to avoid their presence when studying to get the most out of studying. Pets can be a great stress-reliever and can be a comfort to many! That said, they can also be a massive distraction through begging, whining, or sitting on your keyboard (if you have a cat, you know). It’s best to save spending time with them for break times and when you’re finished studying for the day.
5. Take Short Breaks.
Taking short breaks increases productivity and creativity levels. Have you ever spent way too long working on a project, essay, or task and just felt burnt out before it was over with? Of course you have! Taking short breaks gives your brain the relief it needs. If you find it difficult to give yourself a break in studying, set an alarm to sound every 30 minutes. Take a 5-10 minute break when it goes off. This is a great opportunity to see your family and pets, or just play a game and just let loose for a brief period.
6. Avoid Social Media, YouTube, and Similar Digital Distractions.
This one is easier said than done when doing class digitally. All of these things are just a click away and suddenly you’re onto a 5-hour long “break.” It’s for the best to keep some distance from your phone if possible so these temptations are minimized.
7. Listen to Music… or Don’t.
Studies have shown that music can help you focus while working. For some, music helps us be able to focus on what we are studying. For some, it is just one more distraction. If you are working on Geometry and music makes you breeze through your assignment and strengthens your understanding of the concept at hand, go for it! If you are struggling to understand what you are reading in your literature class, turn it off.
8. Wake Up in Time to Get Ready for the Day.
Even though you don’t have to drive to campus anymore, you still should wake up earlier than the minute your class begins. Taking a shower, brushing your teeth, and combing your hair can wake you up and help your body lose its “just woke up” grogginess. When your body and mind have woken up before your class, you are more apt to take in the information and understand it rather than just hearing it and writing it down.
9. “Look Good, Feel Good.”
It is very tempting to stay in your PJ’s or throw on another pair right after you get out of the shower. Even if it is just shorts or jeans, you are more likely to accomplish more when you get out of your sleeping clothes and dressing up like you are physically going to class. Even if you are just studying, there is a clear connection between changing your clothes and being productive.
10. Take Physical, Organized Notes.
According to various studies, it is actually more helpful for your memorization and understanding of concepts to physically write them down with a pencil and paper than it is to type out your notes. Even though digital notes are faster and can be more precise, basic pencil and paper notes have been proven time and time again to work better. This is for two reasons. First, computers are more distracting. Second, when you have to take notes slower, you are forced to think about the concept longer. Adding color-coding and highlighting can even further the associations made in your brain from notetaking!
11. For Classes Without a Set Daily Schedule, Create Your Own.
Creating your own daily schedule makes it much easier to get into a routine and knock out your assignments with consistency. When you set aside an allotted time for studying and classwork each day, you begin to associate that time with work. Your mind becomes acclimated to this schedule and prepares itself for intensive studying before you even get to that point. This makes studying less difficult and far more manageable.
12. Use a Planner.
Planning out your day, week, month, and even year is a great way to visualize what projects and assignments need to be completed and by when. It is very easy to lose track of time and with a planner, you can at least have a rough idea of how you need to plan your week. If you can see at a glance that you have 3 tests in a two-day span, you can quickly adapt your priorities and focus on them instead of something less important to achieving your end goal. Planners are not set in stone. As we have seen, things can change at a moment’s notice. I would recommend using a pencil when filling out your planner.
There is not a technology in the world that is perfect. Be sure to finish each assignment with plenty of time to adapt to any situation. Imagine you go to turn in an assignment at 11:59 PM and the site has crashed or is acting slowly because of high traffic. Or imagine your computer crashes or dies. While professors may have different policies, it is the student’s responsibility to turn their work in.