Student blog: 7 quick tips to stay productive when you study online
With most of the education providers in Brisbane transitioning to online study in response to COVID-19, you may be struggling to adapt to studying effectively at home.
You might find it difficult to figure out your own unique approach to online study at first but, with the right mindset, it can certainly be done.
1.Make a to-do list and have an outline ready
First, have a to do list! Having a plan keeps you on track and gives you a rough estimate of how much needs to be done, so you can arrange your time accordingly. However, be realistic - attempting to catch up on those five lectures you missed will be physically and emotionally draining, and you probably won’t retain much of the information by the end of the day. This is a lose-lose situation. I tend to write a to do list for each day, with consideration of due dates to prioritise what needs to get done first.
Another trick is to print out an outline of your assessments for the entire semester or trimester, so you can clearly see what needs to be done and when it’s due. That sense of accomplishment at the end of the day when you tick off your daily task is very rewarding.
2. Get familiar with how your online platforms work
It can be frustrating to learn how to use a new app or system. The best way to do it, rather than clicking random buttons and taking hours to learn on your own, is simple: just YouTube it. These apps or systems usually have quick and simple tutorials on how to navigate them. You can avoid the frustration and ease your way into watching that lecture or workshop or figure out how to upload your online presentation.
3. Develop a routine, and stick with it
Most of your classes are probably pre-recorded or will be recorded, but it’s important to try maintaining the same routine you would have if you were still attending a class in person. Avoid the mentality of “I’ll watch it later”, because let’s be real - that only means 5 weeks will pass, and you will be left cramming 5 lectures in one day for the quiz or assignment you have coming up. Trust me - it is not fun.
Being able to maintain the “regular” routine you had in the past will give you a sense of “normality” during this time of uncertainty. I usually wake up, get ready and even pack my breakfast and lunch with a cup of coffee then proceed to take my classes online. In between breaks, I’ll have either have a snack or my lunch break, just as I would if I physically went to uni. For me, doing this keeps me sane and motivated to continue with my schoolwork.
If you’re in an online class, remember to still interact with others, and to ask questions along the way.
4. Have your go-to gear on hand
Chemistry majors, keep that periodic table close; Finance students, remember to get your calculator ready. Make sure you have all the things you need for class at hand, so you won’t have to go back and forth to your room.
My go to gear is my Blue Light glasses, headphones, chargers, eye drops (staring at the screen for hours makes your eyes tired), water bottle and all the necessary documents.
5. Declutter your study space
Try to clean your study space regularly and keep it free of clutter. Do not, and I repeat, DO NOT study in bed. You will just be tempted to take a nap or binge another Netflix series. If your desk is right next to your bed like mine, move it or just go somewhere else with ample table space that has minimal noise (or if you have noise cancelling headphones, that works too).
6. Keep your social distance… from distractions
I know we can all get tempted to slide into our Netflix or Facebook tabs and get carried away. Next thing you know, it’s 8pm and you’re deep into Season 4 of Money Heist and a word document is open with only your title page! Whoops. Maybe we can avoid that.
I discovered an app "Self-Control" a few years ago. It has been working magic to help me avoid distracting websites such as Netflix when I really need to focus and study. Once downloaded, it can essentially block your access to certain websites for a pre-set length of time. If you think you can just delete that app cause you’re so desperate to check your Facebook messages, think again. It still won’t give you access until the time is up, so rather than going through the whole process of trying to make it work, you’d rather just continue studying.
The mobile app, Forest, also cultivates focus and productivity in a fun way. This app lets you go phone free for a certain time and will plant real trees! Touch the phone and the tree will die. You don’t want that, do you?
7. Don’t forget to take a break!
Go for a walk, do 10 push ups, or a 10-minute stretch. Remember: you do not need to do a full study block with back to back hours, unless that works for you. I know I could not cope doing that, so either in between classes I just go for a quick walk just like I would do when I was on uni campus, or just make myself another coffee, because sometimes you need more than one to get you through the day!
Remember, everyone has their own methods when it comes to studying online. It’s important to find your own rhythm and follow through with whatever works for you. Happy online learning!