Given distance learning has become the norm for the foreseeable future, studying at home is a very important aspect of university life during the COVID-19 pandemic. While studying from home certainly is not ideal for many of us, keeping on track during lockdown or even future stretches of social distancing, is still very possible. So, here are some of my top tips for keeping focused and productive as a university student during these difficult, uncertain times.
- Have a routine. Schedule daily, weekly, and even monthly routines and try your best to stick to them. It might even help to create a routine as close as possible to the one you had prior to lockdown. For example, if you were at university 9-5, create a daily at-home study schedule that falls within that same timeframe. Keeping some form of normalcy during this time will help ensure you meet your deadlines.
- Create a routine based on your strengths. Everyone studies differently. If you know you’re more productive in the morning, make sure you get out of bed and out of your pjs when you wake up, and get straight to your routine (for productive morning people, the longer you put off your work, the less productive you’ll be throughout the day – trust me, it’s science). Alternatively, if you know you’re the type that is most productive whacking out a night study session, make sure you’re getting enough sleep and finishing your chores and exercise done in the day so that you can feel confident going into your night-time study sessions.
- Dedicate a study environment, and keep it nice and tidy. I mean, no one wants to study when their study space is a mess! Allot a nice space to be your study environment, and keep it constantly tidy so you don’t have to convince yourself not to study when it’s a mess (because we all know how easy that is).
- Set goals. For many of us, it is definitely hard to stay motivated from home. Make sure you set yourself reasonable daily goals, and try your hardest to stick to them. This includes giving yourself ample time to finish your work prior to a deadline. For me, this has been a vital aspect of completing my assignments promptly from home – allowing myself to do a little every day over the course of several weeks has helped me stay productive (academically and mentally) throughout this period of distance learning.
- Take breaks, and try to incorporate some form of exercise or outside activities*. One thing that has really helped me as I’ve adjusted to uni from home is taking advantage of our daily allotted walks/exercise. When work is piling up, go on a walk, cook a nice meal, have a cup of tea, or even watch an episode of your favourite show. Staying inside your four walls constantly can decrease your motivation to study as much as you may need to. It’s summer now – take advantage of the nice weather on your breaks!
- Reward yourself, and don’t knock yourself down if you fall behind. One of the hardest aspects of studying at home for a lot of students is keeping focused. Thus, it is important to provide yourself with small rewards for reaching your daily goals. While you should definitely avoid making excuses for constantly missing goals and deadlines, keep in mind that this time is difficult for everyone, not just you. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling – many of us are! Try your best to keep on track, but cut yourself some slack if you’re not 100% on it 24/7.
- If you’re struggling, ask for help. The university is more than accommodating during these difficult times. Extensions, academic and mental health support, one-on-one Zoom help from tutors, lecturers, and advisors, and even at home workouts are just a few of the current Manchester Met support options. Make sure you reach out to staff at any point if you need assistance.
- Leave time for social interaction. Loneliness can be an indirect symptom of quarantine, which can decrease your productivity when studying from home. Whether it’s a group Zoom call, a responsible socially distanced picnic or walk in the park*, or even a movie night with your housemates, make sure you make time for yourself to have some fun.
All in all, studying from home during these times is certainly achievable. Try to complete a little every day, play to your strengths, and take advantage of the online and distanced support when you need help. Remember, we are all in the same boat right now so you’re not alone.
*Please make sure to always adhere to the current official government laws and advice.