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Top tips for staying motivated while studying at home

After spending eight hours a day in a classroom, trying to learn at home can be daunting.

Maybe you’re doing virtual classes due to coronavirus restrictions, or perhaps you’ve moved to more independent work after starting university. Either way, if you’re concerned about how to keep your focus on point, we’ve got ten top tips for staying motivated while studying at home.

  1. Have the correct tools

Before you get started, collect everything you’ll need from textbooks to notepads and stationery. It’s more than likely you’ll also need access to a laptop with internet connection if you’re being set work online.

Don’t have the tools? Make your school or college aware and they may be able to help.

  1. Designate a study area

The idea of doing schoolwork in bed might sound great but did you know that this could make it more difficult for you to stay focused? Instead, we’d recommend choosing a study area – sitting in the same place every day can train your brain to get into work mode.

If other family members are working from home too you may find it tricky to choose a space, but we’d recommend a desk or kitchen table ideally. If this isn’t possible, somewhere relatively free from distractions where you can sit upright comfortably – like a chair or sofa – works well too. Working next to natural light is a great way to keep your concentration up if possible.

When you’re taking a break or finishing work for the day, move away from this area to help clear your head and relax.

  1. Get dressed

Staying in your pyjamas all day can make you feel sluggish and more inclined to spent hours on TikTok than working on your next assignment!

While you don’t necessarily need to wear smart clothes – although if this helps, great – putting on something comfortable at the start of each day can help you get motivated while studying at home.

If you can, following the same morning routine that you usually have on weekdays helps you to keep a sense of normality, even when things are a little different in the world.

  1. Create a timetable

Some of you reading this may have a fixed timetable set by their course provider. In this case, simply remember to tune into your classes at the correct times: setting alarms five minutes before can be handy if you’re prone to forgetting.

For others, your course provider may have a more flexible approach where you can work as it suits you – as long as you meet the set deadlines of course. This can be a great opportunity to find a routine that works best for you.

If you find that you focus better at one particular time of day, schedule in your most challenging work for this time. Perhaps you work well in the morning but have a regular slump in concentration in the afternoon? Get up early to power through an assignment then use the afternoon to have a break or go for a walk to get back into the zone.

Whichever way you work best, creating yourself a timetable and sticking to it can be a brilliant way to keep focused. If you’ve got a regular workspace, you could even pin this up to remind you which subjects or topics you’re going to work on at each time.

  1. Stay engaged

Without being physically present in a classroom, we know it can be easy to drift off or get distracted!

Try to stay engaged with your lessons by taking notes – you’ll be happy about this when it comes to coursework or assessments – and asking questions if possible.

  1. Say goodbye to distractions

It goes without saying that working with the TV on or your phone nearby can be one of the biggest sources of distractions. Planning in regular break times where you can spend five minutes checking Instagram can help you to put your phone away and concentrate during a virtual lesson.

Working at home can also have other distractions like noise in the house from other family members. If you prefer to work in silence, try to agree a certain workspace where they’ll leave you undisturbed or a few hours of quiet time where you’re able to concentrate. If not, try putting some relaxing music in headphones – we find that music without lyrics can sometimes make it easier to focus.

  1. Plan in screen breaks

As well as taking breaks from work, it’s equally important to have a little time away from screens each day. This includes phones, TV and gaming too!

You may not be used to looking at a laptop for all your lessons, particularly if you’re taking a more practical course, and too much screen time could lead to headaches. Anything from a workout or walk to reading or something crafty can give your eyes a much-needed break.

  1. Keep in touch

Staying in touch with your tutors and classmates can help you to feel connected to your work and educational environment still, even if you don’t have face-to-face contact.

Different forms of education may have different requirements – for example, college or sixth forms may ask you to keep in touch than a university – but we’d recommend keeping your teachers up to date with your progress and ensuring you submit work within the correct deadlines.

Missing the collaborative environment that classes or seminars can bring? Try arranging a video call with some of your class to catch up, discuss an assignment or revise. Everyone learns in different ways so the combination of writing notes and talking it through with a group can help different concepts stick in your memory.

  1. Care for yourself

A good night sleep, healthy food and water have all been proven to support concentration and boost learning.

If you like having an early night before college, stick with the same routine and you’ll find it much easier to get into a positive frame of mind.

As well as designated screen breaks, it’s equally important to make time for lunch. Whether you prepare this in advance to save time or can make a sandwich in between lessons, fuelling your body also fuels your mind.

Do you forget to drink for hours on end? We think keeping a bottle or glass of water at your designated workstation is a great way to remind you to stay hydrated! Why not set yourself a target of drinking a certain amount each day?

  1. Know where to find support

Are you struggling more than usual with your mental health? Don’t panic: it’s totally normal if a change to your usual routine has caused increased anxiety.

Get in touch with your tutor or college/university services: they should have some helpful resources or be able to refer you to an external service to support you.

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