Many students are now facing a whole new semester of online studies. Possibilities to spend time outside of our homes are limited. It can be a very challenging and stressful situation for a lot of people. Dealing with the uncertainty that the COVID-19 pandemic is bringing into our lives, it is not a pleasant combination.
However, studying at home and spending an increasing amount of time there doesn’t have to be terrible. This guide will help you identify the basics of studying at home. You will also find some tips from a Finnish student’s point of view.
Establish a daily rhythm
One of the most crucial parts about studying at home is to create yourself daily rhythm that you can stick to. Without any sort of daily rhythm, you can very easily slip into a state of laziness. This can also make you start procrastinating about the tasks that need to be done. Make sure that you try to go to bed and wake up roughly at the same time every day. This helps to set a healthy foundation for your daily rhythm, as you will be more productive when you have had sufficient rest.
Especially if you have no contact lessons, it is quite recommended to dedicate the time that you would normally spend in classes to actual studying. This way it is easier for you to have regular working hours in your daily schedule. In addition, it minimizes the urge to indulge in distracting activities.
When you study or work, dedicate that time on purely doing that. Afterwards you are able to enjoy the rest of the day and relax while knowing that you worked hard earlier!
Make a to-do list
In addition to having a daily rhythm, making a to-do list of your tasks on each day is very helpful. This allows you to focus your attention on each task on a given time. It also makes it easy to keep track of what is completed and what still needs to be done. This is also a good time to practice time management skills. Most of the time, students won’t have anyone at home to make sure they do what is needed on time. Time management is also a valued skill by employers. Take this opportunity and become a pro in managing your time as efficiently as possible!
A designated workplace and pleasant environment for studying at home
Now that you are doing most of your studying at home, the lines can get pretty blurry in terms of where you work and where you can relax. Like many students, you might not have multiple rooms in your apartment. Sometimes not even a separate bedroom from your living room. This can make it difficult to distinguish areas that you associate with work and studying. It can also make it even more challenging to keep your focus and avoid procrastination.
Try to create a space or spot in your apartment where you are able to sit comfortably and have your computer on a platform. It is extremely important to have a good or at least a decent posture when working on a computer, as slouching can cause back problems very quickly.
Sitting on the couch is not recommended. If you don’t have a table and a chair to use for studying/working, then try to sit as upright as possible and aim to have some sort of an elevated platform for your computer.
Most people find themselves enjoying work and being more productive when they are surrounded by a pleasant environment. Aim to have your study area clean and clear of clutters and distractions. This makes for a better working environment and it helps to keep your focus intact.
Another thing that can elevate your study environment is playing some music in the background. This doesn’t work for everyone, especially if you need complete silence in order to focus. However, it is worth trying to put some instrumental music on low volume on the background. I worked from home full-time this past summer. For me, I noticed that I felt a lot more relaxed when I had some background music playing. It also made the whole experience a lot more enjoyable for me. It’s only a positive side effect to have listening to music bring some definite benefits to your life!
A guide to napping
This doesn’t mean that you can’t take naps at all. In fact, naps can be very good for you as long as they are not too long. However, when you take naps is what matters. It is tiring to jump from long video calls to another all day long. I know how tempting it is to just turn off your camera and start doing something else – perhaps take a little nap after not having a good night’s sleep. This is not something that helps you further down the line.
Taking a nap in the morning between tasks and still having work to do can affect your mood in a negative way, at least from personal experience. It’s not a nice thing to wake up from a great nap and realize that there is still a lot of work to do and then ruin the aftermath of that great nap by stressing the unfinished work.
Don’t risk the chances of creating more stress for yourself by napping early in the morning between online classes. Wait a little bit longer and have those amazing naps in the afternoon when you are at least 80% done with your daily study tasks. You can consider them as a reward for yourself from a hard day of studying at home!
Take breaks and workout while studying at home
It sounds obvious to say to take breaks every now and then, but in reality, it might not always be so simple. It can be very tempting to try and attempt a marathon on staring at your computer screen in order to finish your tasks as early as possible. However, this is very harmful for your eyes and doesn’t improve your ability to concentrate either. You should aim to avert your eyes from the screen at least every 20 minutes and have a proper break and stand up every hour. This promotes better blood circulation in your body, which further enhances your brainwork and concentration skills.
It might be hard to remember to have these breaks but trust me – it is worth it. Set alarms for yourself to make sure you take the necessary rest breaks on a daily basis.
Doing small workouts everyday between classes or in the morning can be very effective in giving yourself more energy and improving your overall health. Studying at home can become very stagnant and might reduce the amount of exercise each one of us gets, so it is now more important than ever that you take the initiative to keep yourself moving – at least for a few minutes.
A couple of burpees in the morning, some stretching in the middle of classes or between writing course reports and 20 jumping jacks at the end of the study spree and TA-DAH! You have freed yourself of some stress and gained some exercise minutes into your day! Exercising doesn’t have to be hard or complicated, you just need to have the willpower and push yourself to do it, even if sometimes you don’t feel like it.
And finally – dress up!
Even though I was working and studying at home the entire summer, I still made myself look presentable every morning. The reason for this was not to look better for other people, but because getting myself ready every morning made it feel more like I was actually going outside to work. I also found myself being more productive due to this habit, so it was something worth sticking to.
Dressing up, taking a shower to feel more refreshed, putting a bit more effort into your morning routine and pretending you are still attending school (physically) can all help you get more motivated in the morning and stay present throughout the day.
You can read more about the positive outcomes of online studying on our other blogpost!