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Home study survival tips

We spoke to students about how they’re coping with learning in lockdown.

Learning remotely has become the new normal and it’s not easy to do it on your own. If you’re finding it hard to stay on track, here is some advice from members of our sister site The Student Room (TSR).

Find your motivation

Struggling to find motivation? You’re not alone. 

TSR user AntheaFarr says, “Covid has made me lose my sense of motivation since school has been just online, and I’ve been procrastinating more. I want to be able to perform better in the next semester.”

TSR user Tvshowaddict2112 says, “I just can't seem to stay motivated or focus. I'm just sat there and not contributing, I can never think of anything to say and I'm not taking in the information.”

This is a difficult time for everyone and it’s normal for that to be affecting your studies, especially when things are so uncertain. 

On The Student Room, Ana is a student rep for the University of Liverpool. “I think the first thing is to not put too much pressure on yourself,” she says. “Revision is stressful as it is let alone in a pandemic!”

University of Portsmouth student rep Sam agrees. “It can be really tough to find motivation at the moment as a student, and it's a perfectly normal way to feel.”

Finding motivation is easier said than done, but it is possible. It can be helpful to focus on your goals and remember what you’re working towards. 

“What really helped me was making a vision board,” says Ana. “I have one as my Iphone background, and it's a collage filled with photos I want to gain/achieve. Looking at this when I feel super unmotivated and procrastinating is really great because it reminds me why I started revising in the first place! If you do a quick google of 'vision board' on Google, there are many great examples. And they're very fun to create!”

“I think you should reflect on what you want to be in the future,”  says TSR user Samira Miah.  “Do you want your future to be filled with many possibilities and opportunities? Do you want to achieve your ambitions, your goals, your dreams? 

“If so, and hopefully so, you should be able to pull yourself together and see that it isn't pointless and will affect you in the long run. You just need a motivation that's all - find something/ someone that can motivate you and you'll be caring in no time; trust me!”

TSR user Squiggles1238 suggests, “if you're looking to get more motivation, just look toward the minimum grades you need for that course - those are what you need to achieve. and just think of how you will feel if you opened your results and you got those grades!”

Need more help with motivation? This video from YouTuber Thomas Frank has more tips.

Structure your time

Without the regular routine of normal life it’s no surprise if you’re feeling adrift. Structuring your day can really help you to focus your studies and be more productive. The key is giving yourself dedicated study time, but also building in breaks in order to relax so that your work gets broken down into manageable chunks. This can help you to eliminate distractions, which can be saved for your break times.

If you’re having trouble keeping on task, TSR user Ducky_Momo suggests you “try to start off in small sessions, and have short breaks in between, and then gradually reduce the number of breaks into what seems manageable for you.”

Gbaker01 adds, “Maybe try planning your day, give yourself some structure and reward yourself by the end of it with an episode of your favourite show or a movie etc. It gives you something to look forward to!”

“The biggest thing that helped me was working out a routine. I know that may seem silly as there is little to "routine" for due to not being able to leave the house, visit friends etc. but it still helps so much,” says Toni, a student ambassador at Arden University. 

“Working out your day and figuring out when you should study and always giving yourself downtime to relax, talk to friends, go on social media etc really helps to increase your productivity levels. 

“I found myself procrastinating a lot at the start as I couldn't really get into the groove but if you have a lot of self control, and be strict with yourself it can really become routine eventually. 

“Make sure to give yourself regular breaks, and in those breaks, go for a walk, facetime one of your friends, watch a video etc. It gives you that needed balance of work and play.”

Manage you time like a pro. Check out this time management video from a med student.

Set yourself goals

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by your workload. Another way to manage your time is to set yourself small goals that you can accomplish easily. 

Breaking your work down into small chunks will make it more manageable and give you a sense of achievement as you complete each task. Think of ways to reward yourself along the way for getting your work done - you’ve earned it.

TSR user Chloecourtney says, “set yourself small goals with a reward such as a break or a favourite food, any amount of progress is still progress!”

“In terms of your revision, take each day as it comes and set yourself achievable goals,”  says TSR user Olamidexo. “But also remember not to be too hard on yourself and remember you're not alone”

Sam, a student rep for the University of Portsmouth, says, “What works for me is every day writing down a few small tasks that I need to get done and to plan each week where I need to be at to finish my deadlines on time. 

“Managing your time is a really useful skill at uni. Also make sure to have time to relax and time for yourself as you don't want to overload yourself!”

Want help getting started? Learn how to trick yourself into being productive with this video.

Avoid distractions

It can be a lot harder to focus on work when you’re outside of your normal classroom setting.

Joshuamcc says, “I am easily distracted as i'm in my own home (cheeky trips to the kitchen).”

Mcmetea says, “The only issue I have with online learning is the fact that I get easily distracted and I tend to need other people in the room with me to motivate me and keep me focused. 

“This was easier at school but it's much harder at home because I don't feel like there's anyone in the room with me during online lessons.”

One thing that can help is putting your phone out of reach or in ‘do not disturb’ mode during study time.

LovelyMrFox says, “Get rid of all distractions around you or anything that you could use to procrastinate with. If you turn to social media, get a site blocker. If it's a Rubik's Cube on your desk, put it elsewhere. A lot of it comes down to willpower and self control.”

Deggs says, “I have to power off my iPad and phone and put them downstairs.”

Listening to music can help you to block out outside noises and focus better.

TSR user whoisevasmith says, “For me, getting into the right frame of mind was super hard because I really struggle with concentration. 

“I actually also listened to music whilst I wrote. It doesn't work for everyone but for me it stops me thinking about anything else other than what I'm working on.”

Want to improve your focus? This video has further tips.

Stay in touch with classmates

Are you missing your classmates right now?  

Joshua.mcc says, “I am currently severely unmotivated for anything as i haven't seen my friends in over a month due to the Welsh lockdown. 

I think that teachers assume learning from home would be more enjoyable as it is a more comfortable space, but it just isn't as we have zero contact with friends or even the teachers outside of online lessons. It's kinda depressing.”

University of Portsmouth rep Sam recommends staying in touch. “Lockdown can be a lonely time for everyone so it’s very important to keep in contact with one another. Organising facetime catch ups with my friends is great, and can fill out your time a bit!”

Organising study sessions with your classmates online is a way that you can support each other and make studying more fun.

University of Liverpool Rep Ana suggests to “chat with your friends about if you’re able to create a study group together over Facetime. That way, you’re all in the same boat and can learn from each other. 

“As well, there may be a bit of healthy competition within this that may help give you that push you’re looking for.”

Starting a study group? This video has some dos and don'ts.

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