How to study at home : the ultimate guide

2 November 2020

a financial services student studying effectively at home

Remote learning is becoming increasingly popular, with many people across the UK turning to online courses to enhance their knowledge and skills and to boost their career prospects. There are many different remote learning programmes available, including the accredited online courses offered by Simply Academy. However, to get the most out of them, people have to be able to work independently at home and manage their time effectively. After all, when you register for a remote learning programme, there isn’t always a building to go to, so you’ll need to make sure that you’re prepared to make time for studying in your own space.

With this in mind, here at Simply Academy we have created the ultimate guide to home studying. Here, we look at what you can do to study well at home, how you can improve your current routine and the best ways to stay on track and fully motivated.

How to study well at home

There are various things you can do to help you to learn your course material quickly and effectively, many of which we discuss in detail below. For best results when it comes to home studying, start including these handy tips as part of your study routine and watch you notice your study time becomes more efficient and productive.

Get enough sleep

Studying is a form of training and, just as with a physical workout, a key part of training is rest and recovery. With this in mind, when you are studying from home, it is important to remember to give your brain the periods of rest and recovery it needs. This will not only help with the intake of information, it will also aid in the retention of new information after a long day of study. For this reason, we recommend that you always aim to get at least eight hours of sleep a night. 

Eat ‘brain food’ before study sessions

Just as your body needs the right fuel before physical activity in order to perform, your brain also benefits from the right food prior to mental activities, such as home studying. As well as maintaining a healthy balanced diet, foods containing certain fatty acids can also help brain function. Therefore, eating things like nuts, avocados, salmon, berries, beans and even dark chocolate can help you to stay focused while studying at home. 

Put together a study timetable at the outset of your course

One of the advantages of going into school, college or university to study is that you tend to follow a structured timetable that ensures your body gets into routine. This is not always the case when studying from home. Humans work and learn more efficiently when we know exactly when and where we need to focus our attention and when we can rest and relax. With this in mind, it is important to put your own study from home timetable in place at the outset of your course. If you stick to this schedule and remain disciplined, you are more likely to take in new information and learn efficiently. 

Plan breaks to help you maintain concentration

Did you know that research has shown that taking even a short break while studying can dramatically improve your ability to focus for prolonged periods of time? It’s true – that’s why it is important to factor breaks into your work from your home study timetable. It is recommended that studying for periods of 52 minutes, followed by a 17 minute break, is the most effective way for your brain to learn. 

Breaks should see you move away from your desk and try to do something active. Going for a walk outside for a few minutes in the fresh air, or refueling with a snack and a glass of water may be just what you need to reset your mind and prepare for another learning session. Remember, while it might be tempting to skip a scheduled break – especially if you are revising for an upcoming assessment or exam – in the long-run, working shorter periods punctuated by regular breaks will ultimately help to keep you motivated and work more efficiently.

Include social time in your routine

While studying, and in particular revising, are often thought of as solitary activities, it is important to build in some social time to your study from home routine. Whether this comes in the form of Zoom meetings with tutors or fellow students for group study sessions, or simply setting time aside to catch up with friends and family when you are not feeling productive, connecting with other people can help to motivate you and refocus your attention. 

Create an area that is dedicated to study sessions

As well as a timetable, assigning a designated space in your home that you reserve especially for studying and revision is essential. Whether it’s a kitchen table, a writing desk or even your bedroom, sitting in the same space each time you are studying helps to get your body and mind into a routine, which in turn helps you focus and take in new information more efficiently. This area should be clutter-free and away from any potential distractions, including TVs, phones, and even pets. 

Is studying at home a good idea?

Studying at home is often a crucial part of e-learning. You may choose to spend time in a library or another setting that makes you feel more inclined to focus, but many people spend the majority of their study time in their own homes.

There are many benefits associated with this. For instance, one of the primary perks to e-learning is the convenience. All of your course material is given to you digitally, so you’re able to digest this information online at a time that suits you. You don’t have to make space in your schedule to attend classes at certain times and in specific places, saving you hassle and helping you to fit your study around your existing commitments.

Why is it so hard to study at home?

Although there are several clear advantages to studying at home, there are reasons why some students may struggle to learn in this way. The causes for these issues can be split into two related categories:

Distractions 

As your home is where you relax and unwind, it can be difficult to remain disciplined with yourself during a study session. Whether it’s the television on in the background, the postman knocking on your door or other people you live with, distractions come in many forms, and if you’re unable to keep focused, you’re unlikely to digest the information you need to progress with your course.

Procrastination 

When you’re in your comfort zone, it’s far easier to delay your study session and convince yourself that you will be able to find time for it later. When you’ve got access to your television, gaming console, books and other activities that you would usually use to relax, it can be difficult to ignore these items and concentrate on studying.

How to motivate yourself to revise at home

While it’s important that you study in an effective manner to properly understand the course material, it’s also crucial that you revise correctly in preparation for exams and other forms of assessment.

You may wonder if there’s much of a difference between the actions you can do to stay motivated during studying and revision, but each of these activities requires a tailored approach. While many of these tips are similar to the general studying at home tips outlined above, studying is more of an ongoing process that could last several months or more, whereas revision is the preparation for an exam that you will need to dedicate time to, but only temporarily. For this reason, tweaks to your remote studying habits may need to be made in the run-up to an exam or assessment. 

Steps you should take to remain motivated during revision are:

  • Make enough time for revision – don’t leave it until the last minute when you might start to panic and struggle to take information in
  • Set up the room you’re going to revise in to be free of distractions
  • Plan rewards or break for after your revision sessions
  • Eat healthy snacks that boost your energy and help you to maintain concentration
  • Switch off or remove any phones or other electronic devices
  • Give yourself a moment to calm down and destress prior to revising
  • Remain confident and focused as you begin to revise
  • Create revision notes as you go along
  • If you feel stressed or anxious immediately after revising, unwind by exercising, having a bath or watching a TV show or film that you enjoy.

If you’re struggling to keep focused, it could be because you’re worrying and stressing about your exam. This is perfectly normal, and while there are many different tactics you can use to deal with exam stress, the most important thing to remember is that you need to balance revision with relaxation.

Constant revision might sound like the best approach, but as this is only likely to make you more stressed and lead you to struggle with remembering the course material, moderation is key.

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