6 tips for staying productive when studying at home

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Hi guys!

I hope everyone is doing alright and is staying safe! It’s a weird time to be living through at the moment. With the current Covid-19 outbreak impacting everyone’s lives in one way or another, it’s safe to say we have all had to adjust to a new way of living.

Much like most other schools and universities, the University of Manchester has moved all teaching and assessments online. At first glance, this might sound like absolute bliss. You get to wake up, make some coffee or food and hang out in your pyjamas all day. That is, until you realise you’ve barely gotten anything done. Whilst there are lots of benefits of being able to study or work online in the comfort of your own home, it can also be very easy to get sidetracked.

Being a victim of procrastination myself, I found a few tips that helps me stay focused. Here are 6 super simple tricks to get the most productivity out of learning/working from your couch!

1. Set up your space for productivity

Choosing the right space to do your work is vital for productivity. As tempting as it is to do work from your bed, don’t do it! It’ll increase the chances of procrastination.
Try to find a quiet corner of the house and stay clear of high traffic areas (like the living room or kitchen) if possible. Make sure you have enough space by re-arranging and tidying up if necessary. Also try to find a space that has a window for natural sunlight or some form of light source. Being surrounded by bright lights helps to keep my mind awake.

2. Keep distractions away

I’m sure we’ve all experienced getting a phone notification, checking it and then before you know it, you’re scrolling through Instagram. Try to keep any distractions, such as your phone or game console, tucked out of sight. You can try putting it in another room or hidden in a drawer, anywhere that you can’t get to it easily. I’ve also recently started downloading apps on my laptop to lock myself out of distracting websites, such as YouTube. This really helps because for a set period of time, you won’t be able to access anything but work-related websites so that removes the distraction of tempting internet videos or memes!

3. Get dressed

I know. The whole point of staying at home is so you can wear pyjamas all day. But in my experience, not getting dressed makes me more likely to stay in bed or watch a series on Netflix. By forcing yourself to get up and getting ready for the day, like you would on any other normal day, it helps set the tone for a productive day ahead. It also makes it more rewarding when you finally change back into your pyjamas at the end of the day!

4. Make a To-Do list

Not sure whether it’s just me but all my days are starting to merge together. Without a proper routine or schedule to follow, it’s easy to forget what day it is and push things off till later thinking you still have tons of time left.
What’s really helped me is making a to-do list every day and putting 3-5 things on it that I have to complete by the end of the day. This list keeps me accountable and there’s nothing like the satisfaction you get when you start crossing things out.

5. Remember to use all the resources available to you

From file sharing to video chat platforms, its easier now than ever to stay organized and connected with your lecturers and course mates. Don’t let the physical distance prevent you from completing your best work and getting the support you need.

Email your lecturers if you have a question. Video chat your course mates and do work together. Make full use of Blackboard and the online library facilities. Just because you aren’t physically going to classes anymore, doesn’t mean you don’t get the same access to all the same resources.

6. Lastly, don’t forget to take short breaks!

As most of us will be staring at computer screens all day, it’s not surprising that our eyes can easily feel strained. To reduce eye strain, follow the 20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, stop looking at your screen and stare at something 20 meters away and hold it for 20 seconds. By doing this regularly, you’re giving your eyes the break they deserve!

Also taking short breaks every 2-3 hours for a quick pick-me-up snack or a light exercise can help you refocus and re-energise. Just be cautious not to get carried away with these breaks. Set a 5-10-minute timer so you know when your break time has ended.

These are just a few things that I’ve found really help me during this time. I hope these tips have helped you in some way!

Till next time, stay safe and take care!

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Brenda Lye

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