How to study at home effectively & boost productivity!

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There is a huge misconception about studying at home. In fact, for some reason many people think that it is nice and easy. Apologies for ruining the party, that is just wrong!

This comes with no surprise, given how studying from home is also often advertised: having the “freedom” to study whenever you want, wearing your pyjama and studying comfortably from your sofa.

The reality is that many people struggle to study at home for various reasons, from a busy life and environment around them, to being consistent and self-disciplined in their studies.

Usually, the start is very promising, mainly driven by the initial enthusiasm of a topic/subject. It is in the long run that things start to get tricky. Once you run out of the initial fuel, there starts the struggle.

Being unable to concentrate on studying anymore, losing focus easily, lacking motivation and so on. Studying from home is actually much harder than people think!

In this post we will go through some of the best tips and methods to study from home effectively. Rather than repeating the usual generic advice, we will split this in 5 ad-hoc parts to cover the key aspects of a quality study experience.

1) Find an effective study from home method (example below)

This is the first key step, you got to find a study method that suits your learning style. If you are struggling with that, let’s go through a good home study method you might want to try.

(p.n. we have discussed the study methods below in more detail in our guide on effective exam revision, you might find that useful!)

First of all, have a quick scan over the study material beforehand. Then, take notes of all complex terminology and acronyms you don’t know the meanings of.

As a next step, look for the most comprehensive definitions of those words/concepts and make sure you understand them.

Lastly, re-write those in your own words. This last step is very important, and it is key for this study method to be effective!

In fact, by doing so you would remember meanings for a much longer time. Therefore, you will also be able to follow lectures and study without needing to stop and search for definitions/meanings (and so losing the focus momentum).

This is particularly useful at the start of new modules where you might not have a broad knowledge of the topics.

Best method to study at home and consolidate knowledge

We have seen what you can do beforehand, let’s now see what you can do after as well.

Probably one of the best study methods to consolidate your knowledge after studying, is to use visual learning techniques such drawing flowcharts and mind maps.

There is no need to include a lot of info, just a big heading for each box and a very short paragraph/few sentences explaining it. What you are doing here is to enable your visual memory.

It is like taking a picture and storing it in your mind; you can think about the flowchart and the main topics of the lecture would also come up. Essentially, you are tapping into your visual memory.

This is also very helpful also when revising before exams, particularly when there was a lot of content to go through.

Obviously, old school method of printing out your study material and highlighting the key parts will never get outdated.

2. Find your main distraction and get rid of it.. rinse and repeat!

An efficient study method is useless if you are constantly getting distracted when studying. If you want to be more productive when studying at home, you need to deal with distractions.

Although those should be relatively easy to identify, it could be quite difficult to get rid of them! Let’s start with what nowadays has become the main distraction: social media.

Access to social media is way too easy, either on mobile or on the laptop itself. It is just too simple to stop studying after few minutes and check your socials. If this is your case, you need to do something about it.

How to stop using social media when studying:

  • Log out of your social media, do not just close the app. You might not notice it, but having to put your login details all the time might unconsciously out you off from opening them often. Do it for both, your mobile and laptop.
  • Remove unnecessary notifications. Many groups/pages you follow on social media will automatically enable notifications for you. This is a major source of distraction as you would always feel you have to check them. So, stop for a minute now, and disable the unnecessary ones once for all.
  • Keep your phone when you don’t see it. It isn’t just a matter of keeping on mute, if your mobile is somewhere you can easily see it, you will be tempted to use it. You could leave it somewhere you cannot reach it by hand; or, if you want to keep it on your study desk, simply turn it upside down.

Whether or not you those scenarios apply to you, the suggestion here is to spend some time thinking about your main distraction when studying from home, and how to deal with it.

How to deal with noise distraction when studying from home

Unsurprisingly, noise is another major source of distraction when studying at home. This might be due to living in a particularly noisy area, or simply because you have other people around your house/flat.

It is very annoying when you lose your study focus because of that, it ruins your momentum. So, how can you deal with a noisy environment at home to study?

We have touched on this already in our post on desk essentials, but it is worth going through it again.

A very good way to mitigate noise distraction when studying is to wear headphone with noise-cancelling feature. This is regardless of whether or not you want to listen to anything.

For example, some like to play background (low volume) meditation or ambient music to concentrate more on studying. Others prefer to wear headphones in complete silence.

Whichever way, numerous researches have shown the benefit of wearing headphones when studying. It helps creating a sense of isolation from the environment surrounding you.

Therefore, it will have a double effect: mitigate noises around you, and help you focus more on your studies!

3. Set an efficient study space/desk at home

In order to be productive, it is important to feel comfortable when you study at home. The real problem is when you are not, but you get used to it.

So ask yourself right now, am I comfortable enough to study effectively? What can I do to be more productive to study at home?

A few tips to create a good study environment at home (suggestions links to Amazon UK):

  • Set your desk/study space close to a window, natural light is important!
  • Use a laptop stand or use whatever to raise the screen to eye-level;
  • Get a comfy office or gaming chair if you don’t have one! (it is a game changer!)
  • Make sure to adjust the brightness of your desk lamp (and laptop) when studying in the evening;
  • If you are studying off a laptop, an extra monitor can be very beneficial.
  • Keep your favourite study motivational quotes where you can see them;
  • Keep your desk neat and tidy after studying!

We went through the above in more in another post, find it here if interested: study desk essentials & efficient set up.

4. Set your study from home targets and objectives

This is really important as it will sharpen your time management and planning skills. You got to schedule your study sessions with some sort of “accuracy”.

One of the best way is to plan your entire week at the start. Obviously, your plans are very likely to change quite often, but the more you plan ahead the better. Why?

Because it will give you a structure to follow! Whereas without a weekly plan you might fit your studies randomly in between other commitments, a plan will get you in the habit of doing the other way around.

Another very important thing to do is to set your study targets. You could do that by time e.g., “on this day I aim to study n. hours“; or by topic: “by this I will have studied this topic/lecture“.

In any case, the suggestion here is to be as realistic as possible. Start with a low study target time, for example 30 minutes studies (with no distractions!), followed by a 10 minutes break.

With the example below, two study sessions would lead an hour of full study (again, with no distractions as per paragraph 3.), with a short break in between.

After getting used to it, you can gradually adjust/increase your study time, e.g. 45 minutes with a 15 minutes break. Now, with two study sessions you would get 1 hour and a half of quality study time!

Although there are various time management techniques for students (e.g., pomodoro). However, the best way is to make your own.

5. How to deal with study at home fatigue

This links back to the misconception of studying at home being nice and easy. It can be very tiring, there is no shame in that!

It is important to deal with study fatigue and prevent it from building up. Let’s go through some tips to keep in mind:

  • Drink plenty of water (keep your water bottle on your study desk).
  • Have some healthy snacks ready for your study breaks (nuts, dark chocolate or fresh/dried fruits are better options than sugar heavy snacks).
  • Get some fresh air (go for a walk in between your study sessions or stand by the window to get some fresh air).
  • Stretch your muscles regularly, and remember you can do that from your chair too!
  • Get some quality sleep! Always try to improve it, it is essential to feel more energetic when studying.

These few simple tips can be really useful to ease and relieve study fatigue. Consequentially, you will be able to stay at home more effectively.

How to study at home effectively, conclusions

Study at home has become part people’s lives more than ever. You can be studying for a degree fully remotely, or taking a mixed approach. In any case, you are still going to face some tough challenges.

It is very common, probably more than physically being at university, to struggle with keeping focus and concentration at home.

In this post we went through how to be more effective when studying from home. It would have been reductive to give some generic tips, so we split the whole process in several key parts:

  1. A good method to study from home effectively.
  2. Dealing with distractions, social media and noise specifically, when studying at home.
  3. Creating an efficient study environment at home.
  4. Setting realistic and productive study targets.
  5. Dealing with study at home fatigue.

Hope you found this post useful, thank you for reading and supporting this independent blog!

Disclaimer

Please mind that everything you read on this blog is based on the authors’ opinions, experience and research. Therefore, consider it as an opinion only, thank you for reading!

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