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Success in an Online Environment: How to study at home

Staying focused and up to date with your studies can be difficult in an in-class environment and can even be more taxing when learning online instead. While Alberta strives for high school students to resume in-person learning as each semester passes, due to current COVID-19 circumstances and post-secondary institutions being more populous, universities and colleges teach majorly online.

With little options to study outside of the house, students are left to study at home where some feel most comfortable and can easily lose motivation. And when more things are happening at home and the conditions aren't ideal, it's especially hard to focus. But efficient studying at home isn't impossible, and with the right tips you can flourish while continuing your education online. Whether you are currently participating in in-person schooling or attending virtually, here are some helpful tips on staying focused and motivated.

Organize your space and mind

Many students have busy lives outside of school, and the reality is that staying unorganized has long-term consequences (e.g., work shifts overlapping assignment deadlines). Failing to plan ahead can also lead to more chances that you will procrastinate or be burnt out pushing yourself too hard to catch up.

I believe that your room space can be a good reflection of your mental state, or that it can at least influence it. It may help clear your thinking if you rearrange, declutter, or simply clean your room. Try facing your desk away from your bed if it keeps you from staying focused. As for your mind, keep an agenda or a calendar to get a big picture of what each school/work week will look like. If writing things down seems tedious to you, use your phone or laptop.

Take regular breaks

By now, most of us know what it's like to be sitting in the same position for hours straight staring into your laptop or computer. For your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing, please remember to take breaks. Listen to a song, grab a snack, or walk around your house. Take the time to recharge and relax, especially when you start to feel stressed and overwhelmed.

Have you ever tried the pomodoro technique? It's a studying method where you study for 25 minutes, then take a break for 5 minutes. After four intervals of studying for 25 minutes, you can take a longer break of 15 - 30 minutes. If you have a hard time getting started with studying, this technique can help you to shift your focus on school while not feeling overwhelmed.

There are lots of other resources online that can keep you accountable with your study schedule, such as “study with me” videos. These include people from other parts of the world who record or live stream themselves studying with a timer, so that you can study with them too. Some include live chats or links to discord chats where you study with multiple people simultaneously.

Make time for some fun.

In high school, you'll generally have more free time to spend on other things besides school. Meeting up with friends you haven't seen for a while, or staying in to watch movies with your family - these are important to stay healthy and happy. You may think that in university, you’ll be busy studying nonstop, but you’ll find that if you organize your time well, there’s also quite a bit of time for yourself to relax and have fun. It’s important to learn to be adaptable in your schedule.

This goes hand in hand with my first tip to stay organized. Be careful to not double-book yourself (e.g., scheduling a patio brunch with friends if you know you have two assignments due the next day). Instead, I recommend that you schedule more time for fun in the weekend, and keep hangouts to a minimum during the weekdays. This can get you in the early habit for your career to be more productive during work days while spending more leisure time in the weekend.

Reach out to someone if you're stuck.

Lastly, if you’ve tried as hard as you can and you just can’t seem to understand what you’re learning, don't be afraid to ask a teacher or a classmate when you can. If you don't have any teachers or classmates to go to, reach out to our YAS team members. Most of our members have experienced remote learning. If you have any questions about your studies, we are here to help! Know that you are not alone in this journey of remote learning. It’s more helpful and efficient when you’re not always figuring things out on your own.

Not everyone thrives in online learning, but knowing what you can do about your environment makes it more bearable or even more beneficial. Following these tips isn't the only way to achieve success, and there are other methods that you may find works better for you, but creating orderly habits is necessary for your future! Try to experiment earlier on what suits you and you'll find that your university experience will be much more enjoyable. Good luck on your studies!


About the Author:

Jill Briones is currently studying at the University of Calgary in the Faculty of Science. She hopes to become a Mathematics teacher some day.

Read her full bio on our Communications Team page.

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