What an interesting semester this has been! Never did I imagine starting my second year of university off-campus. Regardless of location, all of us are having to put in the hours at home. I have found staying focused at home very challenging and it has definitely required a mind shift and some changes in how I go about studying. That’s why I’ve compiled a few tips for studying from home to use for the upcoming exams or next semester.
1. Have a designated study space
If you do not have an at-home office, create a space in your room or any open space in your home where you do nothing else but work.
It’s very important to have a clear divide between studying, relaxing and personal time. Make sure your study space has items that cue your brain that it is time to do some serious work. For example, have your laptop plugged in and ready for work, or your note folders or coloured pens displayed in a holder. I personally have a lovely scented candle that I only burn while I’m working. Make sure that this space is free of distracting noises and out of the way of flatmates and family so that you can work in peace.
2. Make a checklist at the start of each day
Start your day by sitting down and making a list of ALL the things you need to do that day. Every tiny task! Every box I tick makes me feel productive and accomplished.
Using a piece of paper or opening up the notes on your phone, simply list all the things you want to get done. Make sure your list is easily accessible so that you don’t miss anything important.
A to-do list/daily diary system that I love is bullet journaling. It is neat and organised, but very customisable and there is lots of room for creativity. If you want to find out more, I’d highly recommend watching How Bullet Journal which covers all the basics.
3. Stay organised
Whether it is de-cluttering your clothes chair or keeping all your notes in one place, keeping organized is very important.
I’ve recently discovered Notion, a productivity application that has quickly become my go-to. Using Notion I have created a system for managing all my uni notes, daily to-do lists, reading lists and miscellaneous documents. It was so fun to set up and there are loads of videos on YouTube with helpful tips from students.
If you are a pen-and-paper kind of person, invest some time into sorting through all your notes and print-outs, use binders or even make yourself fun and colorful dividers to keep everything neat and tidy.
Decluttering my living space has also helped me in clearing my head. It can be as simple as you like and it really doesn’t have to entail a massive spring clean. You can start by making your bed in the morning, clearing out the coffee mugs that have been piling upon your desk, or if you feeling particularly brave, you can sort out that clothes chair.
4. Get moving
Go for a walk, have a dance party in your room to your favourite tunes or do a home work out. Now more than ever, most of us are slouching over our laptops, and thanks to the current pandemic we probably don’t walk around as much as we used to during the day.
Getting active will boost your serotonin, your productivity and your mental health. Something I’ve been finding very beneficial is using the Pomodoro technique. The principle is that you work in sessions consisting of 25 minutes of work and then break for 5 minutes. After 4 sessions of this, you have a 25-minute break. This is great for productivity, but I also avoid sitting down during the 5 minute breaks and instead do some stretches or walk to the kitchen to get some water. This tiny change really helps fatigue and back pain from sitting in one spot for the whole day.
5. Have something to look forward to every week
This tip is thanks to my mum’s boundless wisdom (an advantage of being stuck at home). Make an effort to plan something to look forward to every single week. She has encouraged me do this and checks up on me every week.
Things to look forward to could be plans to get a socially-distanced coffee with friends, FaceTime calls to catch up or baking something exciting over the weekend with flatmates.
I hope you’ve found these tips helpful or that it has inspired you to be more productive. There as so many ways to approach these tips and it will really differ from person to person. Always remember that your mental health should be top priority over your productivity or grades. If you have any additional tips for studying from home please share them with us in the comments.
Till next time!
Stay safe, happy and healthy.