For those of you that aren’t attending virtual university open days, or going through the clearing process for 2020, you’re probably already in the thick of studying for your exams or assessments. While having to adapt to the new normal, which means studying from home and trying to make the most of it. Studying without the usual structure of the university timetable can feel both liberating and daunting, but this is your chance to adapt your routine to whatever suits you best.
To help you figure out what works for you, we’ve created a list of ten studying tips to help you navigate studying effectively at home.
1. Setting up a study space
This one is more important than you’d think. Choosing a good study space within the home is a good place to start. Your necessities are a desk, being close to a plug, a good supportive chair, and if possible sitting beside a window. You would be surprised how much the lack of natural light can affect your tiredness. Additionally, the tidiness of your space makes a large difference to your concentration. Research shows that a clean space helps you think clearly and focus. Nothing distracts you from a study session like spending 15 minutes looking for that favourite pen you know you saw somewhere yesterday….
2. Establish a routine
A routine provides a structure to get things done, keep the little things from falling through the cracks, and frees you up to plan properly. If you don’t set a routine, you may find yourself being easily distracted and then you realise that you’ve barely gotten anything done.
First of all, it’s important to know what routine works best for you and this might not be your natural preference. So, be honest with yourself and know what works. If you know you are someone that works best in the morning, make sure you set that alarm and get up early. If you know you work better at night, create your schedule around this, just make sure that this doesn’t affect your sleep.
Have a time in mind for when you are going to start studying and make sure you get dressed. Research indicates that getting up and dressed benefits the studying mindset.
3. Get Organised
Being organised seems to be the key to so much in life. So, once you’ve nailed your routine, getting everything organised and ready to go can really motivate you in your approach to your studies.
Having a clear calendar, whether you have moved this online or you still like the old school pen and paper. Enter tasks, projects, tests and assignments and this will help you map out your days so you can keep focused.
4. Make a study plan
Planning and goal setting are embedded in most of us. Now is the time to tap into that and use it to help you study. Your study plan should help you plan and achieve your goals – If you have specific exams or assessments coming up, plan for topics and questions that will be covered, this will help you know what to focus on. When it comes to goal setting, make sure they are specific for each study session, like how many topics you will cover by the end of the session.
5. Steer clear of distraction
When it comes to studying effectively, there can be many distractions around you, and not having the luxury of a library can make things that bit harder. If you’re someone who is easily distracted with social media or messaging your friends then having a plan to help you resist the lure of your phone will significantly help.
When it comes to your phone, for some people turning your phone off or putting it somewhere out of sight is an effective enough method to stop it from getting in the way of your studying. However, if you need something more in place to help you, there are apps that can help you focus such as Forest.
6. Find your sound
As much as staying clear from distractions when it comes to devices will help your focus, music is normally a divider for people. Do you enjoy the silence that you can only ever find in a library, or are you the type to linger in the background of a busy coffee shop? If everyday noise helps you focus, apps like Coffitivity or Spotify can help through playlists that recreate background noise.
7. Don’t work from your bed
It might seem like a good idea to study from the comfort of your bed, but this – as well as your phone – isn’t usually an effective way to study. By studying in bed you do run the risk of affecting both your studying and sleeping habits. Crawling into bed at night won’t provide the same sense of rest that your body needs after a hard day of studying. It’s important to make the effort to study in an environment where you know you will focus and operate at maximum efficiency.
8. Keep connected with your learning community
Are you missing interactions with your course-mates? Why not try to organise a study session via Zoom or Skype, you might find it helps you to keep up your focus and motivation. It also might help to add some social contact in your day so you don’t feel too isolated while studying.
Also, remember that your university will have lots of online resources to keep you in touch with your studies. Your lecturers will likely have even more time to answer your questions, don’t hesitate to reach out they are there to help you with your studying. If you start to struggle with your mental health during the lockdown, don’t hesitate to contact student support services or the student medical centre as they will still be there to help.
9. Keep yourself healthy
While you are studying it is important to give your brain as much nutritional support as possible. Simple changes can make a huge difference, such as healthy snacks in the fridge, limiting your energy and coffee intake, and sticking to three meals a day. If you are at home, try to make lunch or dinner a family meal. Having a decent amount of exercise each week is also vital for improving your ability to study effectively. Research shows that aerobic exercise improves your ability to learn and store new information, and with the increase in fitness apps now choosing your preferred fitness classes has never been easier. We are not made to sit still all day, so it’s important to find something you enjoy, then get up and do it.
10. Shutting down
Using the same space to do multiple activities blurs the line when it comes to balancing your study and social life. It’s important to use other means to create a sense of closure to your studies. The simple task of shutting down your computer each day can give you that closure, or simply getting outside for some fresh air.
Studying during lockdown for students can be a very different experience and it’s important to make sure you don’t lose motivation and focus during this time. There is no one-size-fits-all approach when learning how to effectively study at home. Everyone has different abilities, strengths, weaknesses and distractions. So take time to understand what works for you and what doesn’t as you now have complete freedom to adapt your timetable to your preferences – make the most of it!
We offer exceptional student experiences by creating stand-out living environments that reflect your ambition, enhance your wellbeing and support your studies. If you need to discuss any of your requirements with a member of our team then please contact us to speak to one of our advisors.
Remember, you’re always able to check out our student advice hub. We’ve packed it full of top tips and practical guidance on all things to do with studying at unviersity to help you get off to the best possible start.