Download the free pdf guide on how to successfully studying from home during COVID-19.
Due to the coronavirus, students have to study even more from home than before. This can be quite a challenge, as it requires more discipline and motivation. Therefore, I will give you tips on how to improve your routine, time management, productivity and motivation.
Creating a productive study routine
– Begin with taking a good look at the important dates of the course/subject. When are deadlines? When is the exam? Write these down in your planner for a good overview. After that, take a look at and plan the lectures, group work, etc.
– What is the most efficient way of studying for this course? Exercising, summarizing, something else? Keep in mind that active studying is more efficient than passive studying.
Here you can read more on creating a productive study routine or online study routine.
– Try to stay on top of lectures. Watch all lectures and make sure your notes are clear and complete. If not, do some research yourself at the internet after the lecture or ask someone.
– Make reading/summarizing/exercising a habit. Preferable a daily habit at a certain time, but this obviously depends on both your day and course.
– If you have more than one course, alternate with studying these courses to increase focus.
If you want to read more on active studying, so studying more in less time, you can read this article.
Try to go to sleep and wake up around the same time every day. Depending on the amount of work you have to do in the weekend, look if you want to continue this then. It makes it easier to continue the routine on Monday.
Include breaks, both short and long breaks
Breaks, both short (5-10 minutes) and long (30 minutes – 1 hour), are necessary to clear your mind and increase productivity and concentration after the break Try to avoid your computer during these breaks, as you probably are already on your computer all day long.
Ideas for long breaks: take a walk or go for a run, cook/bake and eat, read a book or magazine, or (less fun) do chores (needed to be done anyway)/
Ideas for short breaks: get some fresh air outside, drink a cup of coffee or tea, do some yoga.
More tips on study breaks can be found here.
Make your desk really your studying desk and try to only study from it. Everything but studying is then separated from it, which could give less feelings of stress when not studying. After all, if you are just relaxing, but still do this in your ‘study environment’, you could think, well let’s do one more thing for university. No! It stays important to do other (fun!) stuff as well.
Something that can also be a useful tip, is to (if possible) switch workspaces once in a while. For example from your desk to the table in the kitchen. Sitting at one place behind your computer all day long can make you feel bored and tired, and just a tiny change in workspace could reduce this feeling.
Dress like you would normally do if you would go to university. If you normally wear make-up and/or put a lot of effort in your hair, you can still do this (to some degree). And at the end of the day, remove it and go back to your comfortable clothes, like you would normally do if you got home. This can give you a more ‘productive vibe’ and forces you to force studying more from your leisure and chill time.
(Productive) Leisure time
Hobbies besides studying – not on your laptop/computer
It is crucial to also do fun things to distract you from (the stress of) learning. Being on your laptop or computer all day is on the long term not very good for your health. Therefore, doing other things is very important.
Obviously good for physical health, but also surprisingly good for your mental health; it makes you happier (endorphin), more focused and it gives you distraction from stress.
– Take a walk frequently
– Start running
Personally, I love going for a run since I was about 15. Living close to a forest at my student dorm, and in the meadows at my parents’, I really enjoyed going for a run, preferably every day, to be from home and just get some air.
– YouTube workout videos
– Painting / drawing, for example painting on numbers
– Follow a Bob Ross tutorial; calming, a real challenge, fun and a nice result!
– Try new recipes. Eating is necessary and baking and cooking can be fun, so try some new recipes.
– Thirty days challenge in drawing, exercising, cooking etc. (lots to find on YouTube and the internet!)
Are you a morning, afternoon or evening person?
The advantage of studying from home is that it gives you more freedom in studying in when to study. This could also be a pitfall as it requires more discipline, but still can be seen as an advantage of well, mainly when you are not a morning person. Of course, this also depends on your university and course, but if you have more freedom in managing your study time, adapt this to the time of the day you are most productive.
Look at your current schedule
This could involve some confrontation with yourself, especially when it comes to social media.
A more extensive way to take a good look at your current schedule, is to write down every half hour what you’ve done the past thirty minutes, for the whole week. At the end of the week, so can see how you are arranging your time; what goes well? What could go better?
Making a planning
– Plan the readings, summarizing, exercising, writing the assignments globally (preferably on the computer). This does not have to be really precise, as you do not know how much time all the tasks are going to take. Still, it is important to have a global overview of what your upcoming weeks are going to look like. While planning, be realistic and rather plan too much time for tasks than too little
– Plan and do activities unrelated to studying between deadlines, study days and in the evening. Alternating with studying and fun activities will keep you motivated and will avoid getting overworked.
– At the beginning of every week, make the tasks for the upcoming week more concrete and make a clear planning. While doing this, take a look at the previous week: what did you not finish last week and do have to catch up? Does the planning have to be more realistic or not?
You can download a weekly planning here.
The most cliché tip, but very important. Both a weekly planner and daily planner help you with increasing your productivity. A few tips on making a planner:
– Not too big tasks; split one big task up in smaller tasks, so that you will feel less overwhelmed
– Not too many tasks, not too less; find the balance, although this is difficult and takes some time
– Make priorities and underline them
– Find out what is best for you: starting with an easy task to get into the ‘zone’, or starting with a difficult task to just have that done.
You can download a daily planning here.
Motivation for studying from home
As studying from home can be quite boring, motivation to study is even more needed
Study buddies really give motivation to study and to avoid procrastination. When your buddy is studying hard, you are less likely to go on your phone the whole time. Of course, during COVID-19, meeting with your friends has become more difficult, but you can still do this on a video call. It does not give the same vibe as studying together in real life, but it is a good alternative. Furthermore, it has become a trend in the StudyTube world to record yourself while studying so that other people can watch this live or later and study along.
Rewarding yourself has become more important in this time where all of your studying takes place online, which really is quite a challenge. Get yourself something to look forward to, in both the short and long term. In the short term, these are things like meeting with your friends or family, doing something fun, watching an episode of a series, movie, exercise, whatever! In the long term these are often holidays; think about the freedom you will have in the winter / summer holiday. At my university, we have retakes in February and August. It really is a good motivation to think ‘if I study hard for this test, it will be less likely to retake it in February or August, so I will have a longer holiday!’
If you really lack motivation …
Starting is usually the most difficult thing. If you are in ‘the flow’ it becomes easier, but getting in there, hey, that is the struggle. Therefore, a trick is to just say to yourself; okay, only five minutes of studying, just five. You will see that once you have started, it is usually not as bad as you thought in advance, and maybe you will keep studying when those five minutes are over.
Last but not least: do not be too strict to yourself and do not forget to look after yourself
Crucial! Health, both mentally and physically, still has the priority. If you do not feel well, do not be too strict in forcing yourself to be productive when studying from home.