Studying at home? Make sure you stay motivated and cover all you need for your courses even when at home. Check out our tips for studying effectively at home!

10 tips for studying at home

Yes, studying and working remotely might sound like a blessing at first, but staying at home has its pros and cons. Sure, no need to change out of your pyjamas, you get to use your favourite coffee mug, no need to hop on the bus or tram or train to get to your school... But also a ton for distractions to keep you away from your studies! Avoiding household chores, Netflix and Instagram browsing is much harder when you're home - basically an environment that to many of us is most often not at all associated with study or work related things. How to organize your studying at home so that you make the most out of your day and don't end up slacking off for days on end? Check out our 10 tips to studying at home and at least a few in use to get those same good results on your studies while at home!

1. Make a schedule

Set certain hours for each day that you are going to spend studying. Write your schedule down for at least the coming week (and preferably do it 1 day before the week starts) and make it accessible so that you can take a look at it at all times to remind yourself what you have set out to accomplish today. Remember to include breaks in your schedule as well. For some, working fully focused for 3-4 hours and then enjoying a 30 minute break works the best, while for some shorter study spurts for 20-30 minutes with a 5 minute break in between work way better. Creating a schedule will not only help you get to work every day, but will also help you to stick to deadlines and cover your tasks in due time. Having trouble figuring out how to make yourself a schedule? Check out if any of these study scheduling apps might be useful to you.

2. Wear pants - not pajamas

Studying at home is much more chill than having to wash up, dress up and show up at school every single morning. However, that chill has a downside and going around all day in your pajamas may instead of studying motivate you to drink coffee and lounge around. So, change into something nice and relaxing enough to make sure you are comfortable at your desk at home, brush your hair and put on your glasses, before going to school at home. 

3. Take breaks, but schedule them

Breaks while studying are important. They will let you rest and allow your thought to wander, while letting the stuff you just learnt sink in. That said, too many breaks means less study time and more time occupying your thoughts with something else entirely. This is especially true when studying at home; on your way to get some water you notice the dirty dishes and start loading the dishwasher, doing the laundry, hovering, just quickly checking your phone, taking the trash out and boom that's two hours gone. It's crucial that you put your breaks in your schedule and actually use those breaks to take time off studying, and not occupying yourself with another task.

4. Location matters

You've probably got at least a few favourite spots in your flat for chilling. Newsflash, they aren't so great for studying as they are for relaxing. Get off your bed and your couch and allocate yourself a clearly defined spot in your flat where you are going to do your studying. Be it your desk or the dinner table or the bar stand, clear the surroundings and make it your home office that has everything you need for studying, so that you don't need to leave your desk and look for a working ballpoint pen in the flat for half an hour. If possible, it would be great if you could do your studying in a room with a door that you can close if/when other members of your family or your flatmates come home. In a nutshell: make it a clear, tranquil place that works for you and helps you focus and keeps you motivated. 

5. Active studying

Online studying can mean long video lectures and sitting in front of your computer for the majority of the day. This can be numbing and demotivating, so it's important that you keep yourself active during those lectures and the studying that follows. Set yourself questions to answer for the duration of the topic. Start with

  • What do I expect to learn during this session?
  • What do I already know about this topic?

Don't just think about the answers to these questions: write them down. When you proceed to the material, keep checking your progress and keep yourself activated. Ask yourself

  • Do I understand what has been said about this topic?
  • What are the key findings within this topic? How do I put them into bullet points?
  • How does this topic fit into the bigger picture of the course/degree?
  • What are the key words and concepts, and should I write them down?

When the lecture or study session is over, ask yourself

  • What is the takeaway from this session/lecture?
  • What should I revise for the next one?

Asking and answering these questions along the way will help you both focus and grasp the topic better, because you are constantly actively engaging with your learning. To help you prepare for your online lectures and study sessions, use the material (either online or physical) available to you about the course and/or topic. Getting to know the material a bit before the lecture might make it easier to focus and follow along.

6. Connect with your friends/fellow students online

Even though you are studying at home, stay connected with your friends and fellow students. Going through the same tasks and problems together is always helpful and will give you another opinion and maybe even help you solve a problem you've been thinking about for a long time on your own. We also need social contacts for our well-being, so stay in touch with your friends and fellow students also about matters that are not study related - just to let out some steam and have a laugh.

7. Take notes

It can be alluring to think that online lectures are just headphones on, sit back and half listen to your teacher explain the topic to you - especially if the material is available to you later on you might feel like you don't really need to pay attention. Get yourself activated during online lectures by taking notes. If possible to you, use pen and paper to avoid distraction; it's all too easy to just quickly check your email, social media and messages when working on your computer. If you take notes on your computer, tablet or phone, think about using flight mode during your lecture to avoid the temptation of doing something else on your device, when you should be taking notes. 

8. Phone away, seriously

You don't need to toss it out the window, but put your phone away, when you are studying. Let your brain focus on one task at a time, and keep phone usage to a minimum when you are trying to focus. Save your phone time to your breaks. When we don't have easy distractions present and available, we are better able to focus keenly and for longer, which in the long run means effective learning. If you need to play music to help you focus, select or build a good playlist for yourself and let that loop so that you don't have to take your phone in hand to skip songs. Remember also, that phone time should be cut when approaching bed time. Good sleep is pivotal to learning, so don't distract yourself with your phone right when it's time to hit the sack. 

9. Set a goal

Motivating yourself to studying at home can be a lot harder than it would be if you were at school. This tip has much to do with building yourself a schedule, and is equally important in keeping your spirits high. Set yourself a clear, realistic goal about what you want to achieve studying this topic, session or course. It can be a certain grade or it can be understanding a specific part of the course topics fully. It can be turning in all your papers a week before the deadline, it can be reading 20 pages of course literature every day... You pick. Your goal and schedule should work well together; make sure your schedule supports you in reaching the goal you've set. 

10. Break down your tasks

Closely linked to your goal and weekly and daily schedules - don't take too big a bite, but rather break down your tasks. You won't be able to attack all your courses and modules fully during one day. There's no use exhausting yourself with working long days and trying to cover everything, because chances are you won't have much to take home. Break down your tasks for all your modules and allocate enough time in each day to cover the course material in due time. Have a detailed calendar (your schedule) on what you are going to cover each day and stick to it. By studying in smaller blocks you are better able to process the information, opposed to cramming where you may forget the topic right after the course is finished or even while you're still studying it.

To sum it up: manage your time, shut down distractions and keep yourself well and rested, and you've got studying at home covered. Good luck with your studies at home!



GoodColleges: 21 Tips for Online Classes Success 

Northeastern University: Tips for Taking Online Classes: Strategies for Success

Colorado State University: 8 Tips for Staying Productive when Studying at Home

Oxford Learning: 8 Tips for Studying at Home Effectively

TIME: 5 Tips for Staying Productive While You're Working From Home