With most of the world having transitioned to remote learning platforms, the ways we’re used to studying may have shifted. We can no longer hole up in quiet libraries to take in our lessons, or spend some hours at a cafe plugging in lines of code. Perhaps the idea of trying to learn from our noisy, crowded homes is exhausting.
Nonetheless, there are several tactics we can try that will help us better focus on what we’re learning, even while stuck in our homes. Year after year, thousands and thousands of people successfully study from the comfort of their homes. It isn’t that their brains work differently or that they’re privy to some obscure secret method. They just make use of a few simple tips that help them concentrate, build a habit, and remain free from distraction.
Whether you’re trying to learn data analytics or web dev, you should set up a study process that ensures you’ll be as effective as possible. Read on for 8 great tips for studying from home.
Establish the Right Routines
A huge part of building an effective study habit is establishing a routine. We don’t just mean knowing how many hours to spend studying, or setting up a productive workflow. One of the biggest mistakes learners make is thinking that the routine part of things is only relevant to the study session itself. A good routine definitely refers to the period of study itself — but it also extends beyond that.
To make sure you’re properly focusing on and retaining the information you’re studying, you’ll want to ensure that your day-to-day routines are fine-tuned on a macro level. Make sure you’re eating and sleeping well, that you’re taking time to get some fresh air, and that you’re keeping active. No matter how perfect your study routine itself is, if you aren’t routinely getting sufficient sleep and nutrition the quality of your learning is going to suffer.
Set Up A Dedicated Study Space
While studying from home, it can be tempting to get as comfortable as possible. Though it’s true that you should feel comfortable, you’ll want to establish some hard limits for what that means. In the short term, studying while burritoed in a duvet in bed may seem appealing. But this laissez-faire attitude towards location will hurt your study habits in the long run.
Not everyone has the privilege of having a dedicated office in their home, but it’s important to set up a space for yourself that you can associate with learning. Our brains are context-coded mechanisms, and are extremely proficient at associating certain environments with certain activities. If you try to study somewhere where you also sleep, you may end up feeling tired when you study or feeling awake when you try to hit the pillow — or both. Try not to bring your schoolwork to bed or to the couch where you typically watch television. If possible, set up a nook for yourself that you can conceptualize as your study space.
Keep Your Workspace Clean & Organized
A clean house is a clear mind. This tip is an extension of the previous one; if the brain is great at being attuned to its environment, you’ll naturally want to keep your environment as uncluttered as possible. A messy, crowded study space isn’t going to help you focus on the lesson at hand.
Throughout the course of the day, things tend to pile up. You may find your study space slowly but surely accumulating a selection of dirty dishes and garbage. Try not to ignore the mess. Having an organized and clean place to study is sure to help you focus your attention on the work at hand, rather than on what you’ll eat for lunch that day.
Shut Out Distractions
One of the main challenges of learning from home is that there can be a lot of other things going on around you. Perhaps you have roommates clanging around in the kitchen, a sibling blasting music from their room, or a cat nuzzling the computer screen demanding pets. It might be hard to focus on your studies while there’s so much else clamouring for attention.
Know your own boundaries and what works best for you when establishing a study space. If you find it difficult to work with noise, it might be time to invest in a good pair of headphones that you can play ambient sound on. Studying with pets can be cute, but if you’re liable to snap pictures of Whiskers all afternoon, it might be beneficial to keep him in a different room. Some people find it helpful to work quietly alongside their roommate or partner, but that doesn’t work for everyone. Don’t be afraid to tell the others in your household that you need to study alone.
Centre Your Goals & Intentions
It’s unlikely that every moment of studying is going to be fun and easy. Every period of learning comes with some hurdles and challenges, so it’s best to prepare for these moments in advance. When you’re frustrated with a certain lesson and tempted to just give it up and go to bed, you may wonder why you’re studying in the first place.
This lapse of conviction can be harmful for those studying from home. When you’re steps away from a couch to lay down on, by yourself and not surrounded by other students, it might be hard to stay consistently motivated. To make sure you’re staying committed to your learning, it’s good to consciously remind yourself of why you’re studying.
Maybe your dream is to design the hottest new app, or to model weather patterns using data analytics. Whatever it is, ground yourself in your intentions. Write down your goals somewhere you can read them, or meditate on a visualization of your future. Give yourself a reason to work hard at your studies.
Ensure You Have the Proper Workstation Setup
Studying for long periods of time can be hard not only on your brain, but also on your body. Many students are familiar with the cramp in the back of their neck at the end of a long day on the computer. But there’s no need to accept the presence of sore muscles or headaches. The proper equipment can help ensure your body isn’t straining every time you sit down for a study session.
The hard-backed kitchen chair may be doing you more harm than good. If possible, consider investing in a proper office chair with armrests, back support, and adjustable settings. Crouching over a laptop screen is known to cause issues with the neck and upper back. Consider using a laptop stand with a separate keyboard and mouse. Your body will thank you for it.
Don’t Get Lost in the Internet
The internet is a great study tool. You can use it to access your lessons, communicate with teachers, mentors, and other students, and conduct research when you’re stuck. Unfortunately, the internet could have a negative impact on the quality of your studies, if you aren’t careful.
It’s really easy to get lost in the internet, especially if you’re stuck on a lesson, tired, or otherwise distracted. It’s worth it to stay away from social media entirely while you’re trying to study. It may be tempting to have Facebook open so you can chat with friends while working, but your internalization of information will be poorer if you’re trying to do both things at once. Try not to multitask — keep only tabs essential to your learning open, and close every other window.
Lean Into Productivity Apps
In today’s world, we’re used to a certain quality of information overload. We scroll over-saturated feeds of news, memes, and selfies on social media, watch television while chatting on our phones, and lean into multitasking. Because of how quick and fleeting our current world is, getting into a flow of deep, focused learning may be difficult.
Thankfully, we have easy access to many technological tools that can help us achieve a deeper focus. Apps like Forest can help you stay off of social media and other distracting websites during study periods. Note-taking apps can help you remember pieces of information that would otherwise get lost in the flow of the day. Want to take a more serious approach to improving your focus? Free meditation apps like Insight Timer can help you get in control of your distractibility.
Think you have your study-from-home routine nailed down now?