Diana is a third year LLB student, who loves mystery novels and painting.
Now that most teaching has been moved online, students getting ready for the new term in September 2020 have to think about how to effectively get their work done at home. Although it can be hard to stay focused with so many distractions and opportunities to relax, there are ways you can get productive at home!
Here are some of my tips and techniques on how to stay on task and get your work done at home.
1. The Pomodoro method
The Pomodoro method of studying was developed by Francesco Cirillo to optimise productivity during his university years. It is named after the tomato (Pomodoro in Italian) timer which he used.
It is essentially a time management technique that entails (traditionally) 25 minutes of focused work, followed by a 5-minute break. Each interval (which is one Pomodoro) should focus on one topic rather than multi-tasking. You can, of course, customise this to your preference. Some people prefer working for 50-minute intervals with 10-minute breaks instead.
After 4 Pomodoros (two hours), you take a longer break lasting no longer than 30 minutes before you begin the cycle again.
During your 5 or 10 minute breaks, try to walk around, stretch or drink some water. Avoid going on your phone and social media! The release of dopamine (the happy hormone) from doing this will make it harder to get back into studying.
2. Study with me
This tip is for the students who usually have a study buddy and might feel lonely studying at home or need the motivation of others studying to keep them going.
‘Study with me’ videos have been popping up all over Youtube and are simply a ‘real-time’ recording of a person studying or doing their work. It is to be played in the background while you study. Most of the videos are 2 hours long, but there are some which go up to 10 hours! And, if you prefer, there are live ones too.
Although it seems sort of silly at first and you might wonder if there is any real benefit, let me assure you that it is actually quite helpful! It helps put you in study mode – sort of like when you’re in a library and everyone else is doing work – and it’s motivating to look up from your notes and see your virtual study buddy still going as focused as ever.
Another benefit is that most study with me videos follow the Pomodoro technique so timing yourself can’t get easier than that. You simply follow the video and take your breaks in accordance.
P.S. – if this isn’t for you, try studying on Facetime with a friend!
It is important to create a schedule for your day/week/month. Pencil in both online lectures and the independent studying you want to get done that day. It is important to have a thorough plan and it might even be helpful to note down what hours of the day you want to complete your tasks.
It is best to start early and finish early so you can have the evening to relax. However, people’s hours of productivity vary so pay attention to when you’re most productive and implement it to your schedule.
4. Your study space
It is important to create a study space where you will not be distracted. This means not a busy or loud room. Studying on your bed is not recommended either as your brain most likely associates that space with relaxation. An obvious choice is your desk but if you don’t have one just find an area in your home that works for you. Make sure you keep this space tidy but also a place you enjoy being in! You can add small plant or stick up your favourite photos if you wish.
Try to make this space your ‘study zone’ – so don’t play games or watch Netflix there. This will help your brain associate the space with studying and concentration. Eventually, you will easily slip into work mode there.
It might be a good idea to let your family or housemates know that you want to get some studying done so they don’t interrupt and distract you.
Finally, don’t be afraid to contact your tutor and lecturers if you need help while studying from home! Your university is there to support you as best they can.