Going to university, and living while studying independently for perhaps the first time can be a stressful time in itself. Given the current situation with the outbreak of Coronavirus and with schools, colleges and universities shutting their doors in line with government guidance, pressure is mounting on students like you to study remotely. Whether you are an undergraduate fresher, in your final year of your degree, or a postgraduate student, you are going to need to complete elements of your degree from home.
Whilst some students will be pleased to be able to set up their home library and workstation, and will see their productivity increase, for some of us, finding the motivation to complete good quality coursework from the comfort of our homes may be more difficult. And with the TV remote next to you and your bed in the next room, it’s easy to see why!
With this in mind, we’ve been brainstorming some quick and easy tips for completing your degree successfully from home, whatever you may be studying.
How to study from home successfully:
- Set up a workstation
- Structure your day
- Keep in contact
- Check your assignments regularly
- Plan activities and rewards
Set up a workstation.
Although the prospect of studying from your bed might seem great at first, in reality, this is not the place where you will be inspired to do your best coursework! Aside from the temptation to squeeze a quick nap in between tasks, working from your bed will also blur the lines between work time and rest time, which could lead to disruption in your sleeping pattern and increased anxiety levels.
So, where possible, get yourself set up with a workstation that mirrors your on-campus set up as much as possible. Get your laptop and any books/other resources set up on a table or desk, sit on a chair that will support your back as much as possible, and if you can, be near some natural light.
We understand though that this may not be possible for everyone depending on your living situation - you may have housemates or family who also need to work or study from home so space is tight, or you may live in a studio flat or house share with no communal space. If this is the case, try and get yourself set up on a table or similar in your room. We’ve seen some fantastic examples out there of people using ironing boards and baths as desks!
Structure your day.
Now more than ever before, structure is key. Without it, minutes will melt into hours, hours into days, and days into weeks without you completing what you need to do. Plus, without a reason to get out of bed in the mornings, you may find that your mental wellbeing suffers.
So, combat this by beginning each week or each day by writing a list of tasks that you’d like to get done, and when you want to do them. Whether you do this on a Google doc, online organisational platform or old fashioned pen and paper, it will help you manage your time, and motivate you to complete your list of tasks. Plus, you can cross them off as you finish them, and then look back and see what you’ve achieved.
Breaking up your day with regular times away from your desk and your screen can do wonders for inspiring you to get back and get on with your work too. It gives your brain and your body time to re-energise and re-focus. Try and schedule in a break or two in the morning, a lunch break, and afternoon breaks.
These don’t have to be long breaks - they can be five minutes away from your workstation, a quick virtual cup of tea with a friend, an episode of something on TV, or a virtual workout class. Doing this will also help you pass the time during the day, and keep your routine as normal as possible in the circumstances.
Keep in contact.
During this unusual and unsettling time of social distancing, it has never been more important to communicate with your friends and family, your university friends, and your course tutors. This will not only keep you from going stir crazy whilst confined within the same four walls, but will also help you to know what’s expected of you while studying from home.
For example, where you would usually ask a question to your tutor in person during a lecture or seminar when you need help, drop them an email after watching your lecture online. Unsure of where to start with an assignment? Reach out to your course friends to see how they are getting on. Need help locating a book or article online where you’d usually just pop to the library? Ask for help. Using online resources such as Google scholar can also be very helpful.
Check your assignments regularly.
Just as you would whilst on campus, keep a note of any formal assignments you have, and when they are due in. These may be essays, presentations that you need to record and share, or dissertations. It’s also key to keep an eye on your university email account for any formal updates from the university.
With dissertations or extended pieces of coursework, it may be that where you previously would have to print, bind and hand these in in person, you may now need to submit online, so check this carefully. Even though you may miss out on getting that dissertation hand in photo, you’ll save yourself time and money! Plus, you can snap a quick selfie with your laptop to show your social media following that you are infact bossing your degree from home.
If you find yourself having to record yourself giving a presentation that you would normally complete in person, you’re going to need to get comfortable in front of the camera quickly. Some tips for this are:
- Get the background right - neutral background and no noise from friends or family
- Make sure you and your presentation are in shot - there is nothing worse than seeing half a face presenting!
- Wear a suitable outfit - put those pyjamas back in the cupboard
- Do a practice run - record some practice runs before your final go and get feedback from your friends and family if you can
For more advice, check out our tips for completing interviews online which may help you.
Plan activities and rewards.
We’re all children at heart - sometimes, knowing that we’re going to get a treat can do wonders at motivating us to complete a task! Whether that’s allowing yourself a sweet treat once you’ve blitzed an essay, arranging a ‘virtual cheers’ with your course friends with a glass of bubbly or a cuppa once you’ve done your reading, or planning in a group video chat with your friends for the end of the day, having something to look forward to can really help boost your productivity and motivation levels.
For more advice and tips for staying motivated and healthy whilst studying from home, take a look at our working from home advice hub.