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Top Tips: How to keep motivated when you study online

Tue 19 May 2020

Studying from home without any face-to-face interaction from fellow students or your tutors can be isolating. You might feel as if you have lost your routine, you may feel a little disoriented and you might even feel rather demotivated. It’s understandable; if you study online from home it can be challenging but don’t give up! We have put together some really useful tips, gathered from people who work and study at home every day. Their experience should help you to organise your day and keep you mentally fit, so you can achieve far more than you ever expected. In fact, you may even achieve more than you ever did before.

Get comfortable

Before you even start to study online from home you need to set up a decent working space. This should not be your bed (too comfortable and unstable) or your garden (too much screen glare) or your living room floor (uncomfortable). If you can, try and set up a table and chair where you can work comfortably. This might be at a desk in your bedroom or sitting at your kitchen table. You need to make sure you are seated properly. Try not to slouch or crick your neck – you could end up needing to visit the chiropractor! The UK’s National Health System has some good advice around how to sit properly at your desk.

Switch off phone notifications

With so many people studying or working from home now, the amount of texts, WhatsApp and Snapchat messages have soared. In fact, since the outbreak of coronavirus, WhatsApp usage has surged by 40 per cent[1]. Having your phone next to you and constantly pinging is really distracting. Why not turn off your ring tone and notifications and pledge to check your phone just once an hour? Then spend five minutes answering any messages you need to and put it back down again – preferably face down.

Write lists

Every night before you close your laptop or switch off your PC, write a list of everything you need to achieve the next day. This way you won’t be going over it in your head during the evening or at night time. And you will know exactly what you need to do when you get back to your desk in the morning. If you don’t achieve everything on the list, don’t worry – don’t be hard on yourself. It can roll over to the next day’s list – unless you have a strict deadline of course. The process of writing a list gives you structure to your day and something to aim for. Ticking off completed tasks is also very satisfying.

Go easy on yourself

If you’re the studious type, it’s easy to self-criticize when you don’t feel you have done enough work in a day. An interesting article in Forbes states that “self-criticism can only be positive in healthy doses, and if it's used for the sake of self-development, not self-degradation”[2]. Berating yourself every day is really tiring so give yourself a break and be kind to yourself. You’re doing your best – why not praise yourself for coping so well instead?

Get fresh air, eat well, sleep well

The term ‘self-care’ may feel a little cringy but it’s what it represents that matters. So many of us are caught up in study, work, keeping fit, seeing friends and family that we rarely take time for ourselves. Anxiety can build up and take you by surprise, so take care of yourself to keep it at bay. You might want to take 30 minutes of your day out to read a book, get some fresh air, watch something mindless on Netflix (not an entire box set!) or even do some de-cluttering (great for mindfulness). You also need to make sure you are getting between 7-9 hours sleep a night and eating plenty of fruit and vegetables to maintain a strong immune system.

Call others for support

Your student friends will be happy to hear from you if you give them a quick call for advice and support. You don’t need to be chatting for hours – try and keep your conversation focused on your study topic and give yourselves twenty minutes to talk about your challenges and possible solutions. It’s likely they are facing the same issues as you – and if you can’t work out the answers you need, why not suggest a Zoom or conference call with the rest of your study group and your tutor? This kind of workshop situation could be beneficial for all of you – and will bring you together as a team.

If you study online from home it can be hard work but once you establish a good routine, you could become even more productive than if you were studying at university. You just need to get your pillars in place: a good study set-up, no distractions, people you can turn to for support, as well as self-care and self-organization. Use this blog post as a checklist and once you have all these tips in place, you will find that studying online at home becomes far easier.

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