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There is a huge misconception about this argument. In fact, for some reason many people think that studying at home is nice and easy. Well, apologies for ruining the party, but from my personal experience I can tell you that it’s not easy at all, I struggled a lot. In this post I will share my best tips on how to study at home effectively.
It wasn’t that bad at the beginning, I was motivated and able to study very effectively indeed. I was also enjoying the “freedom” of doing so in my pyjama. It was in the long run that things started to get tricky.
I would say that once I run out of the initial enthusiasm, I started to struggle. I wasn’t able to concentrate on studying anymore, I would lose focus easily. I’m sure you what I mean if you are reading this post.
I have learned many things and made many mistakes when studying from home, and I’m sure my experience can help you. Having said so, we can now go through my top 5 tips on how to study at home effectively.
1) Find your study method (mine below)
This is the first key step, you got to find the study method that best suits you. Obviously you are the only one that can find it, but reading about others might be a really good starting point if you are struggling.
My study method was quite simple. First of all, have a quick scan over the study material beforehand. Then, I would write down all complex terminology and acronyms I didn’t know the meanings of.
As a next step, I would look for the most comprehensive definitions of those words and make sure I’d understand them. Then, I would re-write them in my own words.
This last step is very important and it was key for me! I have talked about the best study methods I used at university in another post, you can find it here if you want to know more: “The 3 best study methods for effective learning and exam revision”.
In fact, by doing that I noticed that I would remember meanings for a much longer time. Moreover, I was able to follow lectures without needing to stop and look for definitions (and so losing the focus momentum).
I used an alphabetical a-z notebook in order to make it easier to find everything when I needed to. It was so useful particularly at the start of new modules!!
Probably the best study method I used was drawing flowcharts and mind maps at the end of each lecture or revision. I would not include a lot of info, just a big heading for each box and a very short paragraph explaining it.
I don’t really know the science behind it, but I guess that by drawing a flowchart I would also use my visual memory. It was like taking a picture and storing it in my mind; I would think about the flowchart and the lecture would also come up, magic!
This was very helpful also when revising before exams, particularly when there was a lot of content to go through. Obviously, for some revision I also used the old method of printing my study material and highlighting the key parts; that never gets old!
2. Set your study space at home
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 at home?
In my opinion, a study space set up needs to be simple, the simpler the better. A few tips that I can give you about it; which is basically how set up my study space.
- 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 chair if you don’t have one! (I got this gaming chair on Amazon, made a difference!)
- Make sure to adjust the brightness of your desk lamp (and laptop) when studying in the evening;
- Keep your favourite study motivational quotes where you can see them;
- Keep your desk neat and tidy at all time!
That’s for me the best study space possible. Nothing too crazy, as I said, the simpler the better! I have also put together a list of study at home essentials that I used. If you want to know more, find it here: “Study from home essentials”
3. Find your main distraction and get rid of it.. rinse and repeat!
On the one side this should be very easy to identify, on another side it could be quite difficult to get rid of! I will start by saying what was my first main distraction: social media.
I had access to social media easily, either on my mobile or on the laptop itself. It was just too simple for me to stop studying after few minutes and check my socials. I had to do something about it.
So, if you have the same “habit”, do you log out of your socials every time or just close them? It makes a difference! I started to log out from my laptop every time (without saving the password for instant access the next time).
On my smartphone, I had just removed notifications and kept it on mute (unless I was expecting a phone call). Moreover, I used to put it behind my laptop where I won’t see it all the time!
It worked, I would forget about it when studying and only remember to check it out when having a break. I would suggest you spend few minutes thinking about your main distraction when studying, and how to deal with it.
“rinse and repeat”
After getting rid of my social media distraction, I focused on another problem that was making me lose my focus when studying at home: noise.
This is what I mean by the “rinse and repeat” in the title. You got to repeat that until you feel you can focus on studying without getting distracted easily.
It doesn’t matter the source of it, if you are noise sensitive like me, you are going to get distracted when studying; it can be people living with you; noisy neighbours; sometimes even the weather!
However, this was a very easy thing to solve with headphones. I used to keep them on all the time when studying.. without actually listening to anything!
Again, I’m not sure about the science behind this, but I guess that the noise cancelling feature would “isolate” me from the environment, and it would allow me to concentrate on my studies without losing focus or getting distracted.
If you are struggling to cope with noise when studying at home, you might want to try that. I’ve got these headphones from Amazon for quite cheap, I would definitely recommend them if you don’t have any.
4. Set your study target time and objectives
This is really important as it will sharpen your time management skills. You got to schedule your study sessions according to your commitments, and most importantly how long to study for.
I used to do it every week right after my job rota would come out; I used to work in hospitality, so weird shifts really! However, this is very easy to do, the real problem is to stick to your actual plans.
My suggestion is to be as realistic as possible and start low. I set my study target time to be 30 minutes initially, with a 10 minutes break. I would aim to do two sessions, totalling a full hour of study (with no distraction!).
After getting used to it, I increased my study time to 45 minutes with a 15 minutes break. Again, with two sessions I would get 1 hour and half of quality study time!
An important tip here, always treat yourself after you accomplish a quality study session! This would not only encourage you to study, but it will also trick your brain to think about reaping the rewards of your studies!
5. Study at home fatigue
This links back to the misconception of studying at home being nice and easy. Consequentially, many feel ashamed of saying that studying at home is tiring and think there is something wrong with them.
Let me tell you that it is a very tiring activity and there is nothing wrong with you. I felt very tired after a quality study session, but at the same time also very accomplished!
That’s a nice feeling, absorbing knowledge comes with a price that I was super happy to pay. However, there are few things I’d recommend to ease study fatigue.
- Drink plenty of water (I always kept my water bottle on my desk);
- Have some snacks ready for your study breaks (roasted almonds and dark chocolate were my favourite);
- Get some fresh air (I used to go for a walk or stay by the window after studying);
- Stretch your muscles regularly;
- Eat healthy food (I will write a post about how I changed my diet to study more effectively. Nothing crazy as usual, the simpler the better); Edit: post is ready, you can find it here;
- Get some quality sleep!
These few simple tips were really useful for me to relieve study fatigue; consequentially, I was able to stay at home effectively. I hope they work for you too!
How to study at home conclusions
Study at home has become part of many people’s lives more than ever. It doesn’t matter why you are studying at home, you are still going to face some tough challenges of such study method.
It took me quite some time to learn how to study effectively at home and have productive study sessions. So many times I just said “I can’t focus on studying”, despite wanting to.
Everything I have talked about in this post is basically what I have learned during those tough times studying at home, it’s experience.
Hopefully my tips will get you trough your student journey is a more “smoother” way. Thank you very much for reading, best of luck!
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