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Staying Focused When Studying from Home

With the recent rapid onset of the coronavirus, many colleges and universities across the country have responded to the threat of contamination and made the decision to cancel classes and exams held on campus and shift to online distance learning. This disruption in routine has posed logistical issues for instructors but has also caused a significant change for many students in their learning, studying, and test-taking environment; students who have traditionally been used to being immersed in the physical space of a college or university campus are now having to stay focused on their studies from the confines of their own home. In this article, we’ll look at some tips and methods for staying focused and succeeding when studying from home.


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1. Time management is key when studying from home

In a previous article, we outlined some time management tips for eLearning courses, drawing on advice and experiences from current and former students. One of the tips outlined in the article is the importance of calendars and mapping out daily to-do-lists to stay focused and dedicated.

If you don’t currently have a calendar system, now would be a great time to get organized and map out the remainder of your current semester or quarter, noting key upcoming dates and project deadlines. With the distractions that can arise in a home environment, it’s also a good idea to create an agenda for your day, including scheduled online course times and allotted timeframes for study, working on projects, and yes – break time for self-care (more on that below).

Also read: 5 Ways to Maximize Your Investment in College

2. Utilize online hangouts to study with friends

While physically getting together with friends to study is becoming increasingly difficult given the current situation, you can still find ways to facilitate group study. If you don’t already have a study group, this could be a good time to start and a good way to help you stay connected and focused on the course content.

Ask your instructor if there is a group forum/chat tool available via your course’s online system. You could use that medium to ask if there are others who would like to form a group study online via Skype or any other group chat medium. Not only will this help you stay on track with your studies, it could also help you maintain a sense of social interaction and connectedness in this time of increasing isolation.

3. Form a dedicated study space when studying from home

One of the first difficulties to overcome can be to separate your “home” life from your “study” life. One way to achieve this is to create a quiet dedicated study area that is free from other distractions.

Establish the mindset and intention that whenever you sit down to study in that space, you will not engage in any other activity that may distract you from being focused on your studies, such as opening social media pages, reading the news, or checking your phone, doing laundry etc.. By doing so, you will likely find that you can more easily separate yourself from the distractions at home and ultimately be more successful in maintaining positive and productive study habits.

4. Continue to actively participate in class

Although the physical location and instruction method of your class may have temporarily changed, it’s important to remember that your instructor is still there for you to answer questions you have and that you are still able to participate in class discussions in similar ways.

When attending the online class, be sure to utilize features such as group chat, using the “raise your hand” feature, and taking your microphone off mute to ask questions and interact with your instructor and classmates. After class, while you are studying, be sure to reach out to your instructor with questions you have using their preferred contact method – they are still there for you even though you may not see them in person!

Also read: Study Abroad in the USA: 4 Common Questions

5. Take care of yourself

While it may take some discipline and changes in routine for you to be successful in an online class, one important aspect to keep in mind is to remember to take care of yourself. Carve time out of your day for activities that bring you happiness or relaxation, which can in turn help boost your energy and avoid burnout.

According to an article by NAU Canada Online, taking a break every ninety minutes for activities such as meditating, taking a walk, having a snack, tidying up clutter, exercise, drinking water, and taking a 10-20 minute nap, can help increase your productivity and creativity.

Hopefully, these tips will help you be successful in your eLearning endeavors. If you have additional insights from your experience, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

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The Author

Dave Harriman

Dave Harriman

Dave Harriman, SHRM-CP, has a background in human resources, anthropology, and international education. His experience teaching English abroad during a gap year as an undergraduate student in Spain ignited his passion and advocacy for student travel. As a human resources professional, Dave is interested in helping students prepare for future career growth, and for helping facilitate social & cultural inclusion in the workplace.