The COVID-19 pandemic has relentlessly shaken up age-old practices across almost every working sector and the university environment has been no exception to this. With one university after another declaring virtual lessons and learning as the norm both now and in the 2021 academic year, students have had to quickly get to grips with new ways of online learning. To help, we’ve brought together ten top tips to get the most out of virtual studying.
Keep a Consistent Schedule
If you would normally get up at 8am and finish classes at 5pm, then keep this schedule, even if you can’t get out to the library or face-to-face lectures. This can help keep your brain in ‘work mode’ and predicting your working hours should help boost your productivity by providing structure and a work-life balance.
Early Bird Catches the Worm
The late nights and nightlife associated with student living have earned the university population a nocturnal reputation and where there is nothing wrong with taking this night-time approach to your student studies as well, recent research has shown that daylight is important to emotional wellbeing and the immune response. Starting earlier in the day will also allow you to communicate with your lecturers during their normal working hours. Consider ditching the night owl habit for an early bird routine.
Without jumping up to switch lecture halls or trekking across campus for a well-earned brew, it can be easy to slip into a demotivated and sleepy state. Besides giving you a rush of happy endorphins, a midday run or living room workout can help break up the day and keep you motivated.
Dress Like it’s 2019
As tempting as it may be to fully utilise the perks of wearing loungewear during the day, experts reckon that you may be worse off in the long term. Research has shown that consistently working in your nightclothes can lead to ‘role blurring’ and lower performance. Reserve the PJs for sleeping only.
Separate Your Work Space from Your Down Space
Like the mental division of casual clothes from workwear, having separate studying and leisure spaces can help you mentally switch and distinguish between home life and homeworking. Feeling like you’re constantly in work mode or, on the other hand, too unmotivated to get that essay onto paper can be stressful and come back to bite your grades. Creating a separate down space may not always be easy in a student flat, but try to make the distinction by eating meals and spending a bit of time each evening in communal recreational areas.
Keep a To-Do List
Virtual learning is all about structure. Keeping a to-do list can help to prioritise your work and prevent you from getting behind even when you don’t physically have a lecturer or teacher there to keep you on track.
If you’re already in your second or third year of university study, then you may be familiar with the morning bus or car ride commute into university. Although pocketing the travel money and not having to play the daily game of clinging onto the bus holding pole without falling over at the stops may be little bonuses in lockdown life, completing a ‘virtual commute’ can be mentally beneficial. Listening to a podcast or reading a book during the time you would have been travelling can help you reflect on your study goals for tomorrow and classify your day’s start and end.
Take the Little Wins
A big challenge with day after day of home studying is staying motivated. The after-lunch lull and the final hour of your studying day may seem particularly risky areas for browsing Amazon more than the Google Scholar database. Setting short-term goals and quick wins in those times can really help with motivation. Set yourself a target with a reward, such as a guilt-free trip to the biscuit tin if you get past that tricky statistics question.
Whether it is your academic work, family challenges or pandemic anxieties that are getting you down, the most important thing you can do is stay virtually connected with your family, friends or university staff. You’re not alone and although you may feel disconnected from your course and struggling with the content without physically being in class, your lecturers are still there to help you through. Likewise, make the most of your housemates, many of whom may be feeling isolated themselves and try to make a point of checking in with them each day.
Enjoy the Perks
The world may seem like a dark place at the moment and there is plenty to be concerned about. But home learning does come with it perks and making the most of these can help to keep you on track with both your workload and your mental wellbeing. If you like to play music when you work, type around your favourite furry friend or fancy that fifth cup of coffee, then go for it. Enjoy your home comforts!