7 study strategies for learning from home

Around the world, we are all making adjustments to our day-to-day to transform our living rooms into classrooms.

While we spend more time indoors, we find that there are little details like where you choose to study, how often you get up and move and what you do to de-stress that can make a difference during this temporary transition.

Over the past month, we’ve rounded up the ideal habits that can help you focus and get the most out of online learning. Read on for seven study strategies for learning from home. 

1. Still do dress up for class and stay in the chair

Dress to impress. At first, getting to go to class in your comfy clothes might have seemed like one less thing to think about in the morning. After a while, sweatpants can become a reminder of a lack of normalcy in your day-to-day schedule.

Try to dress up like you usually would as many days as possible to feel like you “got ready” for class. Cut yourself slack on the days that are wearing on you more than usual, and pick that to the be time you opt for a comfort-first outfit. 

Stay in the chair. Especially during quarantine, it’s easy to fidget and want to switch up where you’re studying and where you take online courses. If you’re up against a deadline or studying for a quiz the next day, the best advice is to stay where you’re at until you finish your assignment.

Switching up your scenery is perfectly fine when you’re reviewing subjects, reading your textbook or planning your week.

However, when you’re in the final hours of when your paper is due, it can be an excuse to not jot out that last paragraph. So when it comes to deadlines and exams, treat it like you would in the classroom. Stay in one place until it’s pencils down. 

Sit up straight. Your back will thank you later for good posture during your virtual school day. It might seem convenient to learn from the comfort of your bed and blankets, but it doesn’t look professional for online classes; also, working on your coursework hunched over might reinforce slouching and slumping that can lead to back and neck pain. 

2. Set calendar reminders for time management

Plan out progress check points, deadlines and reviews for all of your major assignments. While this is useful when you first receive your syllabus in general, it will help you stay on top of your workload when you don’t have candid reminders as often.

Google calendar and iCal are great resources for this, but you can also start to explore project management software like Trello and Asana.

3. Actively participate in class with your voice and your pencil

Here’s a few tips for how to stay attentive and participate in an online lecture. 

Keep your camera on to keep yourself accountable. Seeing your facial expressions respond to what your professor is covering gives them the reactions they should be receiving from student engagement and helps you not get distracted since it would be reflected on camera. 

Turn your microphone on mute and take notes during your class. Even though you’re not in a lecture hall, act like you are. Whether it’s a notebook or on your laptop, keep taking notes diligently and flag topics that you need to cross-examine with your textbook or professor. 

Ask questions. More than ever, you might be vulnerable to the bystander effect, when everyone expects someone else to speak and the result is no one does. Your question might be shared among the masses, so ask away. 

4. Ask about office hours… before finals week 

While you might not be able to stop in to your professor’s office when you randomly have a question, you can still ask them for one-on-one availability.

It’s all the more reason to get some face time via Facetime with your professors. Since many of your professors actively work in the field and are in charge of exclusive research projects, use this time to get to know them, their work and how you can get involved when it’s time to return to campus. 

5. Limit distractions and turn off notifications

Turn off notifications for your social media apps, news and personal email so that they don’t distract you during study hours. You can pick times to check in on all things online on your terms instead of the other way around. 

Video calls with your friends and family are so important during social distancing. However, you need to take care of yourself so that you can freely engage outside of school time. If you’re worried about unfinished assignments, you can’t be fully present with your loved ones.

Choose ambient sounds over videos. The combined audio and visual aspect of videos can take you away from the task at hand. Unless the video is part of your studies, stick to music or podcasts that can give you background noise without encouraging you to look away from what you’re doing.

6. Prioritize your physical and mental health

Don’t go to class hungry. Your schedule might be a bit different than usual, but give yourself time to eat a balanced breakfast. Lean into your inner foodie and get cooking to stay energized for your classes and stir your creativity. For more cooking inspo, read 7 simple recipes to help you through a week of self-isolation.

But first, coffee… in moderation. Keep your caffeine intake under control. Stick to the amount of coffee and tea you would drink usually or a little less. Since your kettle or french press are within reach, it might be easier to refill your mug more often than your everyday run to the coffee shop.

Too much caffeine can disrupt your sleep, raise your stress levels and be dehydrating. So, make sure to follow up each mug with a tall glass of water.

Take a break to walk, jog or run at a social distance. Depending on where you live and study, there might be different regulations on when and where you can go outside.

Follow the guidelines for your city and take a break to get some fresh air. Run around the neighborhood, jog to your favorite playlist or walk to a local restaurant for takeout. Get more fitness tips in our blog on how to stay active while studying from home.

Download a meditation app or take a YouTube yoga class. Now more than ever, paying attention to the news can really spike your stress and anxiety. Whether movement or stillness is what puts your mind at ease, try to dedicate some time everyday to find your center.

Yoga and mediation can help get the wheels of your mind to stop running for a moment and let go of everything that is going on outside of your control. Choose a time when you wake up or before you go to sleep to make this a part of your daily routine. 

7. Up your peer-to-peer groups online 

Bond with your classmates so that when school is back on campus, you have some familiar faces to hang out with and go to for coursework questions. Create groups on your favorite messaging platform so you can work together.

Make study guides with your classmates so that you can divide some of the work and have more time to review your materials. If you have a question or missed something in your notes, you can ping one of your friends for the answers. We have the most communication devices and platforms at our disposal than any other time period. Take advantage of it.

If you have enjoyed reading this blog you may also like to read how to stay motivated while studying from home.

Learn more about INTO and our online study options on our website.

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Tracy Ratledge

Hey, I am an editor at INTO North America. As a journalist and storyteller, I love learning and writing about our outstanding students. As an aspiring singer-songwriter and comedy fanatic, you'll find me singing and laughing at length outside of the office.

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