How to make home studying work for you

Monday 20th April 2020

Woman on ipadStudying at home is the norm for most students, but with recent government advice to stay indoors, we know many of you are missing studying at your usual haunts on campus or in the library.

Studying from home can be difficult, especially if you’re looking after children or having to work alongside your studies. It can be hard to get into a routine or find a quiet place to study undisturbed. Anxieties and worries about coronavirus can also really affect your studying.

We’ve spoken to our lecturers and pulled together 7 top tips on how you can make studying from home work for you.

We hope these tips help, and please do let us know if you have any tips of your own to share!

Decide your routine and working day

First of all, work out a daily routine. A good way to start is to look at when you’re most productive – is it first thing in the morning or later on in the evening? Depending on your other commitments you can then decide when’s best to study. The main thing is to set a routine and try to stick to it – this really helps you keep disciplined and focused on your study.

It’s vital to take breaks throughout the day – cramming and studying over a long period of time can really limit your productivity and the quality of your work. Work out your study style and how long you can study for before losing concentration. If you’re not sure, try studying for two hours at a time, taking a half hour break in between.

During these breaks, take time away from your screen to switch off and relax. We know you’re all busy with assignments but try to make sure your day is made up of a mixture of study and entertainment so that you don’t burn yourself out.

Select a dedicated space to study – ideally not your bed!

Before you even start work on your assignment, think about where you’re going to study.

This will largely depend on the space you have (and who you’re sharing it with!) – a table’s often the best place for typing, and the sofa’s perfect for reading a book – but the one rule of thumb is to never study or work in bed.

It can be tempting to sleep in a bit later, open up your laptop in bed, and start studying straight away, but getting out of bed and sitting at your dedicated study space is one of the best ways to start a productive study session. It kickstarts your brain into study mode, limits the distractions around you and helps you to relax when you do go to bed.

Set realistic goals and write a to-do list

Think about your study goals and write them down – what exactly do you want to achieve and by when? Be realistic though – will you really be able to submit all three of your assignments in two weeks’ time?

Once you’ve done this, write a weekly and daily to-do list to work out how exactly you’re going to achieve these goals. This will help track how well, or not so well, you’re doing and what you need to do. It’s important to break goals down into specific tasks so you can plan your time in the days and weeks ahead.

Be kind to yourself when setting goals and don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t reach them. It’s a tricky time and not everything will go as you initially planned.

Keep in-touch online

Whether you’re staying at home alone or living with family or housemates, keeping in touch with lecturers and those on your course will help your studies and your mental health.

If you’ve any questions or worries about an assignment or would like feedback on a recent piece of work, you can always contact your lecturer for a one-to-one over email, phone or by organising a virtual meeting.

There are many discussions, workshops and support sessions taking place on Canvas – try participating in a few of these or even create your own informal study group with your course mates using video chat.

Limit time spent on news sites and social media

It’s always a good idea to stay up-to-date with the news and current affairs, not least for your degree, but too much news can have a negative effect on both your studies and your mental health.

Particularly during this challenging time, we know just how easy it is to get distracted by all the bad news and the rumours and opinions spreading on social media.

If you’re becoming anxious or worried about what you read online, try limiting the time you spend on news sites and social media. Why not try reducing your time on social media to a couple of hours a day or restrict the time you spend on certain apps using your phone settings?

Some of what you read online may also be fake news, so please be cautious and stick to reliable news sources such as the Government’s dedicated coronavirus page and the BBC news site.

Keep healthy and active

Life has drastically changed for most people in the UK since the government introduced social distancing measures.

We all know that exercise is good for the body and the brain, and although we’re only allowed to exercise outside once a day, there are still ways to stay healthy and look after ourselves.

If you want to head outside and get some much-needed fresh air, why not try going for a walk, run or bike ride at the same time every day?

If you don’t want to head outside, you can also fit exercise into your daily routine at home. There are so many online exercise videos you can follow – such as Yoga with Adriene and The Body Coach (Joe Wicks) on YouTube. Joe Wicks has a range of videos for all ages and is great if you have kids to entertain!

Aside from exercise, don’t forget the basics – drink plenty of water, eat a balanced diet and try to get a good night’s sleep.

Look after your mental health

Last, but definitely not least, is looking after your mental health.

It’s a difficult time for everyone, and we’re all trying to adjust to the challenges and restrictions resulting from the coronavirus crisis.

There are lots of things that can help your mental health, and you need to spend some time working out what suits you best. Practising mindfulness, meditation and relaxation can make the world of difference. Mindfulness Association, Calm and Headspace are good, free online tools to try.

You can also try taking up a new hobby to keep your mind active. Why not try drawing, knitting, cooking something new or reading that book that’s been gathering dust on your shelf?

If you are struggling or feeling down or alone, our Student Engagement, Wellbeing and Success (SEWS) team are here for you and offer a wide range of support. Contact them on sews@bil.ac.uk or ring our main number, 020 7078 8840, and ask for the SEWS team.