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Top tips for studying at home

Times are strange, and the transition from face-to-face teaching to online classes and moving your studying sessions from the library to your home might be a bit difficult. To try and help, we’ve put together some tips to help you study from home. If you’re finding yourself struggling with this transition, have a browse and see what works best for you.

Wood desk in home office with a yellow chair and a Macbook pro on the desk

Times are strange, and the transition from face-to-face teaching to online classes and moving your studying sessions from the library to your home might be a bit difficult. To try and help, we’ve put together some tips to help you study from home. If you’re finding yourself struggling with this transition, have a browse and see what works best for you.

Create a designated work space

Even if it changes daily, try and find a spot at home where you can study without too many distractions. Whether it’s your desk in your bedroom, the kitchen table or the living room coffee table, try and ensure that you keep this area primed to help you concentrate. Whatever works for you, be it putting on some study tunes or working in quiet, set up whatever helps you to stay focused, and ask family or housemates if they can respect your space during your study time.

Maintain your usual designated teaching hours

Whether you’ve got online teaching scheduled with your tutors, or teaching has finished for the semester and you’ve just got independent study left for your final exams and assignments, a great way to help stay focused when studying from home is to stick to your normal designated teaching hours. Getting some work done during those hours means that you’ll have more time to relax later on in the day, bonus!

Try to avoid working in bed too much

Bed is everyone's favourite hello and hardest goodbye on a daily basis, and now that we’re all stuck at home we don’t have to say goodbye at all. We know it’s tempting, but if you can avoid using your bed as a space to work, you’re much more likely to be able to stay focused on your studies. Though it might be irresistibly snug and warm, sometimes that can hinder your ability to concentrate, as you’re more likely to feel like you’re on the verge of nodding off! We associate our beds as a place of relaxation and comfort, where the goal is not to stay alert and focused, therefore you’re far more likely to doze off during work if you study from the sheets. It’s best to stay out of bed when you want to focus properly on your work, and doing so will make your bed feel a million times more comfortable when you finally get into it after you’ve finished studying!

Take a walk or do some exercise after your lunch break

Do you ever feel a bit of an afternoon slump approaching after you’ve had your lunch? To try and prevent that, take your daily walk or do some exercise such as pilates or yoga after you’ve eaten your meals. This will help aid your digestion and convert that food into energy, so that instead of falling into a sleepy food induced coma by heading straight back to studying after you’ve eaten, you have some energy to remain alert for the next few hours.

Work in short bursts

If you find it difficult to concentrate for long periods of time, try out the ‘Pomodoro’ technique. The pomodoro technique was created in the 1990s by university student Francesco Cirillo, named after the tomato shaped kitchen timer he used to manage his time during his studies. The technique is simple: Set yourself a timer for 25 minutes of study, and at the end of those 25 minutes take a short 5 minute break. This is a pomodoro. After 4 pomodoros, award yourself a longer break, between 15 - 30 minutes. This technique is ideal for people who find it tricky to stay focused for long periods without a break. Just make sure your 5 minute break doesn’t suddenly become 25 minutes, and your study time turns to 5 minutes!

Do something to distinguish between your work time and relaxation time

Whilst working and studying from home, it can be particularly difficult to maintain a work/life balance, especially when under lockdown, with nowhere else to be except our homes. Setting yourself a small routine to follow may help to manage your days, so that you feel more balanced.

Try starting your day the same way each morning by getting up at the same time daily, and doing something to energise yourself so that you’re alert for the rest of the day. This could be as simple as taking a shower, making yourself a filling breakfast or doing some quick exercise; whatever helps you to prepare yourself so that you’re ready for the day. Carry out your morning of studies in your designated work area, then take a break for lunch and some exercise. Afterwards, continue with the rest of your studies for the afternoon, but make sure you set a time to switch off and wind down for the rest of the day. Try and make sure you stop working at a similar time each day, so that you have time to relax before starting again the following day.

Try to stay in as normal a routine as possible

Whilst having to stay at home all the time, it might seem strange to bother with things like getting dressed properly or eating at regular times throughout the day. However, sticking to your usual routine will help you to stay focused and get in the right mindset for studying, however cooped up you might be feeling. Try and make sure you get dressed every day (even if it’s just into comfy clothes!) eat, drink and exercise at the times you usually would, and get plenty of rest at the times you often would. Maintaining as normal a routine as possible will help prevent you getting lost in too much of the confusion we are currently experiencing, and help you to stay focused on your study goals.


Ban yourself from social media

If you often find social media too difficult to resist whilst you are studying, particularly at the moment when checking the news for updates is becoming second nature to the majority of us, use Forest to stop yourself from checking. Downloadable as an app or a chrome extension, Forest bans you from your blacklisted apps and websites for 30 minutes at a time. When the countdown starts a seed is planted, and during the 30 minutes a tree will grow. The challenge is to grow yourself as big of a forest as you can, therefore the longer you stay off social media, the longer you stay focused and the more your forest will grow!

If you’re still feeling stuck, get in touch

You might be far away, but there is still help available if you’re struggling to adjust to studying from home. No matter what you might be feeling stuck with, make sure you reach out and let the right people know. Get in touch with your tutors and course leaders if you’re struggling with your work, and they will be able to help. If you still feel like you’re struggling or you need some additional support, then get in touch with your student’s union - we’re here to help!

Remember that our Advice Service at Leeds Beckett Students’ Union provides free, confidential and independent help to all students at Leeds Beckett University. This includes academic regulations and procedures, or any problems regarding your course. You can contact them at lbsu-advice@leedsbeckett.ac.uk.