If you’ve found yourself working and studying more at home over the past couple of years, you’re not alone. The pandemic of COVID-19 has turned the entire world’s school and workforce more virtual than ever.
This is a great thing if you’re self-motivated. However, it can be hard to stay productive when studying at home for those of us who need more structure. There are so many distractions that need to be done or, let’s face it, that would be more fun.
But if you’re going to be studying at home frequently, you won’t always be motivated. Instead, you have to set yourself up for success with your environment and routine.
These tips will give you your best shot to be productive, even when you don’t feel like it.
1. Create a Work Environment
It’s going to be tempting to sit on the couch or relax on the bed and study. But just because you can work from anywhere in your home doesn’t mean you should.
When you try to study where your brain is hardwired to relax, it will be hard to convince it to work instead. If you can set up an uncluttered, dedicated workspace without many distractions, you’ll get more done in less time.
Minimal Distractions Equals Maximum Study Time
Make a study area outside of your bedroom if possible. Push your desk against a blank wall, or set up dividers to block you from seeing the rest of the house (and the dishes that need to be done).
Part of designing this study environment should be limiting your distractions, including other tasks. Try to avoid multitasking. Although it sounds like you can get more done this way, it does the opposite. Since your attention is divided, every time you switch tasks, it opens your brain to distractions.
Getting focused again takes a few seconds, and you could get the same work done in less time if you stuck to one thing at a time. This is much easier if you study in a quiet, clean space.
2. Stick to a Routine
What is your study routine? If you don’t have one, you should create one ASAP. Without a set regimen, it’s easy to convince yourself to put everything else before studying.
Think about when you’d be going to the library or your classes if you weren’t working from home. Take that same amount of time and plug it into your day wherever it fits seamlessly.
Wake up, get dressed, and enjoy breakfast like you are leaving, even if you’re staying home all day. Having this structured routine sets the stage to tell your brain it’s going to be functional, not lazy.
A routine also helps you to establish boundaries and stick to them. When your family and friends know you’re in your study zone, they’re less likely to bother you.
Don’t forget to schedule time for social events, too. Knowing you set aside time for fun will make it easier to turn down invites during your study period.
3. Stay Active
Have you ever tried to pull an all-night cram session? How much of that information did you actually end up retaining?
Our brains process information best when we’re active. On average, we can focus for up to two hours before we must take a break from the task at hand.
In other words, you can sit and read your textbooks as long as you’d like. But you’re only going to remember what you read for the first two hours.
How to Reset Your Brain in 20 Minutes or Less
For the best use of your study session, set a timer for 45 – 60 minutes, then take a purposeful break for 10 – 20 minutes. This has to be something that keeps you active and boosts your energy in order to refresh your mind.
Scrolling through social media doesn’t count. You have to get up and move. These workouts can be done in 20 minutes or less. You can take a walk, dance to your favorite upbeat music, or do some yoga exercises.
As long as you’re moving and not thinking too hard, your brain will reset and be ready when you get back to studying.
4. Balance Your Health, Too
What does your diet look like? If it’s full of carbs, sugar, and caffeinated drinks, you probably notice a lot of high-energy intervals followed by long crashes.
Your daily diet and nightly sleep patterns are essential to your productivity. How you fuel your body and the rest you give it will determine how focused you’ll be when you study.
Eating and Sleeping for Your Health
You know your immune system needs vitamins in order to stay in top shape. Did you know your brain requires sleep, as well as certain vitamins and minerals, in order to do its job?
Zinc, magnesium, iron, Vitamin C, and Vitamin B are critical nutrients for brain function. If you’re eating healthily, you probably get these from your diet.
But if you’re not actively creating well-balanced meals all day, you’re probably short of some key vitamins and minerals. For optimal productivity, be mindful of what you eat.
In addition to eating, regular sleep is necessary. When you rest, your brain clears out the toxins your body builds up through the day. Any new information you’ve learned is also permanently cemented into the right neural pathways.
Motivation is an amazing way to get through things you might not want to do, like studying.
Since we can’t always stay motivated, we must do what we can to push through our distractions. With these tips, you can stay productive when studying at home, even when you’d rather be elsewhere.