For years, I studied at school, at uni, at libraries – basically wherever I could that wasn’t home. I found working from home distracting and difficult.
Fast forward a few years, and I now both work and study predominantly from home, and I’m as productive as ever.
The circumstances we currently face with COVID-19, none of us have ever seen before. And there are inevitably going to be a lot of changes to make. But if you set yourself up well for online study – or study at home – not all is lost, even if (like past me) you’ve found productive study at home difficult in the past.
Here are a few tips.
One of the big traps of studying from home is that, suddenly, you have your comforts all around you. It’s so easy to be distracted by the fridge, or by family and pets, or by the Nintendo Switch resting tantalisingly close to you.
For me, the best thing I have done for at-home productivity has been taking a little bit of time to set up a work-only space. Depending on your circumstances – especially with many people now working and studying from home – this may be a little more difficult, but having your work space is important.
At home, I have an area where I work and study, and do nothing else with. I try not to relax in that space – or, in fact, study anywhere else in the house – because I find it so easy to conflate work and relaxation times.
If I tried to study on my bed, I can almost guarantee that I would shut my laptop, start listening to podcasts, and eventually fall asleep. Alternatively, if you can enter a space and immediately be in the “study zone”, you’ve already won half the battle.
Something I struggled with when I started working and studying from home was that it suddenly felt as though I should be doing productive stuff every minute of every day. With no physical disconnect between your study space and your relaxation space, it’s easy to fall into this trap.
But if you don’t usually study at 9pm on a Thursday night, there’s no need to start doing that at home.
In fact, keeping regular time schedules could be useful to maintain structure and to get through everything you need to. Why not grab your regular school timetable and try to follow those same subject periods? So at home – even through the school break – you could keep studying Maths first thing Monday morning, English on a Wednesday afternoon, and so on.
Even if you’re spending more time at home than usual, exercise is still important.
I find it a really useful way of finishing a study session and, therefore, marking the distinction between study and non-study. I invested in an exercise bike, and sometimes go for a cycle at the end of a study session to say, “okay, that’s done – let’s think about something else now”.
You don’t need any equipment to exercise, though. Do some star jumps, do some yoga – do whatever you need to mark the end of the session (and stay healthy!).
As you know, there are already heaps of great online resources online that you can use through your studying-at-home period. And, given the current climate, more are becoming available every day. You’re probably familiar with some of ATAR Notes’ online resources you can use for HSC, QCE and VCE studies, but there’s lots of really great stuff out there that you can explore.
Even if physical contact is limited, don’t isolate yourself completely. Reach out to friends and family, give somebody a call, stay in touch. If you want, you can even check out our journey journals for HSC, QCE and VCE students – or start your own!
These are unusual and difficult times, but we can do it. Look after yourselves and each other!