We are currently living through very difficult times and over the past few weeks our lives have changed dramatically. You may have moved back home, or are confined to your university house or halls. However, there is one thing that hasn’t stopped and that is your university education.
Although physical classes have been suspended, online classes are still going on. And you are still expected to complete your year at university.
This change in environment, and the fact that there is a global pandemic happening right outside, makes it very difficult to stay focused.
So how do you stay focused when studying at home?
Whether you are at university, or working towards your GSCE or A-Level exams, we look at the different ways you can stay focused when studying at home.
How to stay focused when studying at home
Create a good study environment
Your environment is everything. It’s why people feel more focused at the library and why you shouldn’t work while sitting in bed.
Ideally you should have a desk or at least a flat surface that you can work on. Sitting in front of the TV may sound appealing but it can be distracting and your posture will suffer. Having a flat surface with enough room for a computer, a notepad and pen (and a coffee cup) will help you feel like you are in a working environment.
You will need to make sure you are near a power outlet where the wires can sit comfortably without imposing on your actual workspace. You will also need to make sure you can sit comfortably. This could be an exercise ball or a comfortable desk chair. Make sure that you can sit comfortably for a long period of time.
If you like to work in complete silence, try and find a quiet area of the house . If you enjoy working while listening to music, make sure you have a playlist set before you start working. There are plenty of ready-made playlists on streaming apps such as Spotfiy specifically for studying which can make for nice background noise.
Get into a routine
When your normal routine is disrupted it can be difficult to create a new one, especially in the midst of a global crisis.
However, getting into a routine will help you concentrate on the task at hand, and will stop you from getting distracted by other things going on around you.
Try and see this new change as a positive – you are able to study whenever you want. This means you can study when you feel you work best. If you are more of a morning person you can start studying as early as possible without interruption. If you work best in the evenings then you can work into the night without thinking about having to get up for that 9am lecture.
Working when your brain feels most switched on is more beneficial than trying to force yourself to concentrate for the sake of your old routine.
Procrastination has been around forever, it didn’t start with the invention of Facebook. However, with the world just a swipe away it is easier than ever to succumb to distractions. This is particularly true when you have no one checking to see if you are paying attention.
There are plenty of apps that help you stay focused. Whether this is restricting the time spent on certain apps or my personal favourite, Forest, which ‘grows’ a tree for as long as you do not pick your phone up. If you leave the app during your designated time, the tree dies. However the longer you use the app, the more virtual currency you get to purchase real trees, so you are doing your bit for the environment and for your degree.
Create a schedule
Just as it can be easy to succumb to more distractions at home, it can also be easy to overdo it. After all, you don’t have to travel to lectures or to the library. So it is all too easy to simply eat while working. Therefore, it is important you stick to a schedule to make sure you get enough time resting.
Short, frequent breaks are better than less frequent longer breaks. So, a 5-10 minute break every hour of studying is better than a longer break after a few hours. Giving yourself 10 minutes or so gives you enough time to get away from your screen and refocus. If you are more of a to-do list person, then splitting up your to-do list in blocks will enable to you to make sure you have enough breaks in between tasks.
This is a tip I swear by, and getting dressed rather than siting in your pyjamas can do wonders for your mindset.
This doesn’t mean you have to squeeze into a pair of skinny jeans or put on a blouse and a pencil skirt. But, getting out of your pyjamas or loungewear and into something that you could potentially leave the house in will help your brain shift into ‘work mode’.
Regular exercise has huge health benefits not just for your body but also for your mind. Whether you exercise first thing in the morning to get yourself ready for the day or in the evenings to help yourself unwind; scheduling regular exercise will help you reduce stress and give you a break from the screen.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself
One of the things to remember as you shift to studying from home is to not to put too much pressure on yourself. You are expected to continue your degree during a crisis no one was expecting.
The chances are it is going to be harder to focus than normal, and that’s okay. Don’t pressure yourself to do more than you think you can manage, no matter what everyone on Twitter is saying.
Hopefully these tips will help you stay focused when studying at home.