How best to study at home

Study advice during the pandemic

How best to study at home

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With the coronavirus making studying from home the new norm, it’s imperative we look beyond the frustrations of no longer having face-to-face contact and find a routine to keep our brains alert, and educational progress on track. Yes, it’s a difficult time, but INOMICS is here to help. 

Picture the scenario. You begin the day rolling out of bed in the afternoon, throwing on some casualwear, saying to yourself “today I will finish that, read this and write up this”. Three hours later, however, what has happened? Social media is updated with your latest thoughts, the coffee cup has been refilled twice, and the dusty bookshelf has been reorganised colour coded. Staring out the window with an empty notebook, you ask yourself, ‘where did I go wrong’? Don’t worry - we’ve all been there. Follow this step by step guide, and you’ll be a star study-at-home student in no time!

Check out our Advice section for more helpful tips for economists

1. Start good routines

It’s super important to set yourself a time to wake up, eat a healthy breakfast and start to study. It’s tempting to wear pyjamas all day if you’re not leaving the house for anything except to pick up emergency Oreos. But you’ll feel much better if you take care of yourself with a normal clean-cut routine at home. Shower, get dressed, brush your hair and you’ll feel a million times more motivated every day. Easy.

Studying from home also gives you the opportunity to work whenever you want. Every student has their own peak time when they concentrate best. Some people are night owls, while most are early birds. Make the routine work for you, pick when you are most productive, and work when your brain is most alert, so that you’re able to process and retain the information you are studying.

2. Study space

The bed is not the best option. It may beckon you with comfy pillows, but rest assured, it never works out. Reading flashcards from the duvet isn’t going to associate the space with the right activity. Sitting at a table in a good chair can make or break your productivity. How can you stay focused on that tough statistics problem if you’re distracted by your aching back? Working in bed promotes bad posture, which not only decreases concentration but can also  give you back pain in the long term. Pick a good study space away from the bed and other distractions wherever possible.

It’s okay to use the kitchen even. Just beware of the snack attacks! Try to study on a surface that is not used for mealtimes too, even if it’s the other end of the dining room table (to associate it with being a workstation, and keep the activities separate to maintain focus).

3. Order from chaos

Having a tidy work area helps to stop procrastination. Think about it: it makes sense. Tidying is never enjoyable, and if your mess is interrupting you completing your study, it’s hard to be motivated. The more time you take to find your favourite highlighter, the more time it will take you to finish your work. Study smart. Keep things organised and use folders. You might have a lot of chaotic notes too, so to help, only put out the things you need for the subject you are studying that day.

Removing distractions can be as easy as making your study space a tech-free zone. Turn off your phone or block all notifications, because as we all know, spending three hours on TikTok and Insta is not getting you closer to academic success. Successful economists motivate themselves, and great students will push themselves to engage with the study programme and complete as best as they can their assignments.

4. What to take from a study session

Being productive is hard in a low-pressure working environment without teachers to explain things to you. Give yourself and your study time direction by setting attainable goals. Some people work best by asking questions before, during and after a session, such as:

  • What am I about to learn, and how does it fit into the bigger picture?
  • Are there key words or ideas I need to note down? Why are these important?
  • What do I need to review in more depth next time?

Sometimes, explaining to a friend or family member what you’ve just learnt is the best way to show you’ve understood a concept clearly. If no one is around to talk (or video call), setting yourself the task to put pen to paper and paraphrase the things you’ve just read is useful too.

5. The mental block

When your mind is completely uninspired, it can be hard to see how to make progress with your studies. Some people swear by the lava lamp, Rubik’s Cube, stress ball or fish tank. Another idea is to find short podcasts that are relevant to your topic. They can help  re-centre the mind, and allow you to get back on to things like crunching economic historiography. Taking breaks is not a sin, but you need to be brutal in the timings and make sure you study too.

As INOMICS has previously discussed, excessive screen use from social media can prompt feelings of anxiety and agitation, so moderation is key, and we recommend taking it away from your study time entirely. What is infinitely better for your learning, and to combat depression as a result of too much isolation, is to video call your classmates or teacher, to discuss the topics you’re struggling with, and share your thoughts when you know your knowledge is stronger. Regular communication with your peers while studying from home boosts morale.

Also, when we are inside more, in darkened areas, our melatonin levels are higher. This is the chemical in our body that makes us sleepy. So, try to work as close to natural light as possible! Working near a window or in a light space will preserve your sanity, as  seeing the outside world a little will keep your body more awake!

Got any more tips for studying at home during the corona pandemic? Email our editor at jamesa@11academianetworks.com.