How to study effectively during lockdown
Five simple pieces of advice to help you adjust to home study
1. Organise your study space
Everyone has a different home environment so it’s difficult to make hard and fast rules. However, there are certain basic guidelines about study spaces that should apply to most students.
Try to keep whatever study space you have neat and tidy. This will help you stay calm and feel well organised and make it less likely that you’ll lose things.
If you can, change your workspace to provide some variety but avoid trying to work when lying down or in other situations where reading and writing is tricky, or your posture is uncomfortable or slouched.
If you share a space with other people, try to find a quiet area and let the others know you are working so they can keep disturbances to a minimum.
2. Avoid distractions
Procrastination is always the enemy of effective study and it’s an even bigger danger when working at home with the temptations of social media, Netflix and so on.
For a start, move your phone some distance away so it’s not instantly available. Use it as a treat when you’ve achieved a particular task rather than as a constant companion. You could try using the Pomodoro method where you work for 25 minutes or so, the an allow yourself five minutes break/phone time.
Noise-cancelling headphones may help you concentrate or you could listen to some instrumental music (lyrics tend to grab your attention and don’t help).
3. Stay in touch
Pretty much everyone will be staying in touch with friends and family using Skype, Zoom or some other video tool. But don’t forget you can also maintain contact with other students in your classes or doing the same course as you using social media, video link, email or voice call. You can share ideas, discuss assignments, test each other or just share experiences.
It’s likely that your teachers will also be available remotely so do contact them with questions about your study. They may also be willing to set and mark your work. Don’t forget to check your school or college website on a regular basis for updates and information. Follow their guidelines.
4. Make a daily timetable
It’s easy to slip into a situation at home where work and leisure become blurred. Because there’s no change of environment, school bell, bus home or any of the other things that signify a change of activity, work can spill into leisure time and leisure can leak into times when you should be studying.
To minimise these problems, make yourself a daily timetable that breaks up the day into periods of study. Make sure regular breaks are included, particularly a proper lunchbreak and some exercise. List the things you want to achieve and then work out the best order. Maybe aim to do the most important tasks first and finish with something quite straightforward. Don’t get frustrated if you don’t get through the full list – just take the unfinished tasks forward to the next day.
5. Think about how you learn best
Different students prefer different methods of learning so it’s worth thinking about what works best for you. For some, the simple question/answer format of flashcards enables easy self-testing while for others the more visual form of the mindmap is great at showing how the various aspects of a topic are linked.
If you’re making notes that you’re going to need to recall later, it’s worth considering the Cornell method. This involves dividing a page so there is main column, a narrower column beside it and a space at the foot of the page. You use the main column for main notes, the right-hand column for headings and/or key words and phrases and the space at the foot for an overall summary. This format allows you to test yourself easily and the very process of creating the notes in this way forces you to think about the meaning of the content.
Another tip: if you’re having to read or make notes on a textbook – check the start and finish of chapters. There is often a summary of some sort.