Top tips for studying at home

In this blog, Rob Martin, a Learning Development Tutor at Birkbeck, shares five tips to help students be productive while completing their studies from home.

Photo of woman looking on computer

Studying at home can be tricky, particularly when you are in lockdown with family members or housemates. Those of us who usually use the Library to find some quiet time may be finding things even trickier. Below are some suggestions to recreate the sense of focus of studying in the Library.

1. Create a dedicated study area

If possible, find a place in your home that you only use for study. This enables your brain to become conditioned to get into gear when you are in that area.

2. Use a timer

Pomodoro Technique suggests that we can better focus on task in small bursts. The suggested timing for this is 25 minutes of the task (e.g. reading, writing) then taking a five-minute break. Use the free Timer setting on your phone or digital watch.

3. Distraction blockers

It can be tempting to use your phone to find the definition of a new word while you study, but this opens up the possibility of seeing other distracting notifications such as social media. There are apps available that block other apps and websites. For mobile devices: Forest distraction blocker is £1.99. It grows a virtual tree in your ‘Forest’ for every completed time block. The app also contributes to real reforestation according to how many people have focused that day. Cold Turkey is available for laptops and desktops. You can specify which websites to block for a length of time of your choosing.

4. Using background noise to help you focus

If you like to study with the general bustle of the library or a coffee shop, try a website like Noisili, which plays background noise themes like ‘coffee shop’ or ‘rainfall’. Alternatively, music streaming apps like Spotify and Apple Music offer continuous playlists that might drown out some distracting background noise. Calming instrumental music like Classical can help you resist the temptation to get up and dance instead of studying.

5. Connect with study buddies

In times like these, you may have less contact with your fellow students – catching up about assignment progress, sharing ideas, helping each other to understand. You could keep it low tech: schedule a series of calls with fellow students to address particular issues. Otherwise, you could use a free video call app like Zoom to stay in touch. You could study ‘together’ online, for example, using the Pomodoro technique. Spend a few moments discussing your immediate study goals, study in silence for 25 minutes still connected to the video call. Use the five-minute break to discuss what you achieved and establish your study goals for the next 25 minutes.

 

 

 

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