It’s been almost a year since the world came to a standstill and we got used to staying inside, turning our houses into offices and sometimes classrooms too. While there are undeniable benefits to working and studying online, ‘Zoom fatigue’ is a real thing, which can make you tired and less productive. However, your learning doesn’t have to be affected if you follow some simple tips and tricks for studying at home.
Space it out
Did you know studies have shown having gaps between study sessions is more effective than cramming, even if the study session is shorter? Essentially, this means it’s better to do an hour of work every day rather than 5 hours in a chunk at the weekend. In a time when people are spending more time in front of their computer screens than ever, it’s healthy to get into a routine where you’re studying little and often, so you can have valuable screen-detox time.
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Get out of your pyjamas
It’s hard to get stuff done when you’re still in your pjs! It can make you feel lazy and demotivated and create a low-productivity cycle. It can even confuse your brain and have an effect on your sleep cycle. Get up and dressed just like you would if you were leaving the house for face-to-face teaching. If you feel like you look good, you’ll feel better about your work and it will help you be smash your to-do list.
Set boundaries with yourself
If you were having face-to-face classes right now, they’d most likely be in normal working hours. You’d probably do some homework in the evenings, but it’s important to remember that you would have given yourself time off too. Lockdown affects people’s lives in different ways: some people end up bored with lots of new free time as hobbies are cancelled; others find themselves swamped with extra responsibilities like childcare and home-schooling. Whichever situation you find yourself in though, try to set limits on the time you’re going to spend hitting the books, and keep out-of-hours study sessions to a minimum.
Create a tidy workstation
You can’t study effectively if you’re surrounded by clutter. You wouldn’t have a messy workspace in the classroom and it should be no different at home. Try to get your books, files and laptop organised, and your mind should follow. The thought of studying can be off-putting if you can’t find what you’re looking for under piles of stuff, so a tidy desk area might make you that bit more enthusiastic about sitting down to focus.
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In the face-to-face classroom, it would be frowned upon for you to sit scrolling through social media. But when everything is based at home, the boundary between your social life and your studies can blur. It can be tempting to pick up your phone every time you hear it ping, but it’s just going to disjoin your work and make everything take longer. Try turning your phone on flight mode while you work. You can reward yourself with some screen-time later.
Create the right background
It’s no secret that learning from home comes with distractions. Some people study best in total silence, but if you’re someone who needs a bit of background noise, try compiling a playlist full of chilled out songs to focus to. There are also loads of great ready-made playlists on Spotify, just type in ‘study’ and see what comes up. If you find music too distracting but silence isn’t quite right either, try ASMR rooms. These are immersive YouTube videos that play recorded background noise for you to replicate a place that helps you study. If you’re used to studying in cafes with lots of background sounds there are videos for that, or if you prefer, YouTube is full of Harry Potter inspired ASMR rooms. You can even study in the Hogwarts library if you fancy it!
Use Productivity Aids
If you need help organising your time now everything is based at home, I recommend apps like Notion, a workspace that lets you collate to-do lists, calendars, reminders, reading lists, study notes and more. It can be really helpful having everything in one place, and at times like the present it’s great to have a space where you can quickly brain dump things to pick up on later. Better still, Notion is free to download.
Keep in contact with your tutors and classmates
Online learning doesn’t have to mean you have to go it alone. Your tutors are still there to answer your questions, and your classmates might be all over the world, but you can still chat to them. Talking through the work with other people is a great way to feel more confident and positive about it, and your school might even have chatrooms or discussion boards where you can connect with fellow students online.
Get out of the house
No one is going to study effectively if they’re sat inside all day. Try to make sure you take a walk at least once a day for some fresh air. If you’re trying to study and you’re not getting anywhere, then take a break and come back to it later. That’s one of the benefits of studying from home! Always make sure you take a proper lunch break, too, and if you’re struggling with loneliness or boredom, try Facetiming or calling a friend.
Make evening plans
Obviously, there are limits on this at the moment. But try to have something planned that you can look forward to at the end of everyday studying. You could bake something yummy, have a bath, plan a Zoom quiz for your friends and family or read a good book. Try to choose things that take your mind off any stresses, as these will be most effective in relaxing you for the next day.
Be sure to follow us on Instagram @abclanguagescambridge as this month I’ll be sharing more top tips on self-care and home learning! See you over there!
Allegra Goodwin, Student Experience Manager