study sessions at home

5 Tips for Study Sessions at Home

College looks quite different than normal. Instead of heading back to classes, your school schedule and mode of learning is brand new.

You might be a pro or a novice when it comes to learning from home. Either way check out these tips so you can optimize your home study sessions.

Set up a study space.

Designate a place in your home as a study/homework space. A space that is quiet and comfortable with good lighting is optimal.  

If it’s hard to find a quiet place in your home, consider investing in noise cancelling headphones, or listen to wordless music as you work.

In addition, it’s helpful to designate an area that is separate from your sleeping or living space. This way, you can put work away when it’s time to focus on family or other hobbies.

Now, if a separate space isn’t an option, find a way to set up and tear down your study space at the beginning and end of each day. Store all your school materials in your backpack or on a bookshelf so they don’t clutter your living area. This practice can act as a mental trigger to help your mind transition in and out of your study times.

I live in a small apartment, so my couch becomes my workspace during the day. But every evening, I put all my work materials in my work bag, leaving the space clean for family time in the evening.

Set goals for study sessions.

Goal setting is key to making the most of your study sessions. This blog will tell you how to set S.M.A.R.T goals. 

Keeping S.M.A.R.T in mind, you can set two types of goals to help you accomplish your school work: task-oriented goals and time-oriented goals.

Task-oriented goals focus on achieving one task in one sitting. Here’s a formula you can follow:

I will complete (insert assignment) at (insert time) and when I’m done I will (insert reward).

On the other hand, time-oriented goals keep you focused on one assignment for a set amount of time. Follow this formula:

I will work on (insert assignment) for (insert number of minutes), and when I’m done I will (insert reward).

We suggest using task-oriented goals for smaller assignments and time-oriented goals for larger projects.

Notice that every formula ends with a reward. Giving yourself small rewards for accomplishing your goals will motivate you to get work done. Rewards can be as simple as making yourself a cup of coffee or going on a walk. For bigger assignments, buy yourself a new book or movie. This is an important step to increase your effectiveness as you work.

Don’t multitask during live teaching sessions.

First, it’s rude.

Second, we aren’t getting much social interaction these days, so take advantage of these video class times. Yes, they can be awkward at first. However, if you do your part to engage in online sessions by asking questions and participating in discussions, you’ll find the class more enjoyable, and so will everyone else involved.

Schedule specific times for your tasks.

Obviously your schedule is all out of sorts, and you might have more time on your hands since you literally can’t leave your house. Because many of our extra responsibilities have been cancelled, there’s a chance you have more time on your hands. 

Don’t allow this extra time to make you less efficient. Set specific times to work on specific assignments.

I like to use an appointment book method in my planner to write down exactly when I will work on certain projects. Not only do I schedule my school or work tasks, but I also schedule break times so that I make the most of each day.

Follow the 50/10 rule.

Studies (like this one reported by Forbes) continually show that taking adequate breaks increases work performance. Similarly, failing to take breaks from working can kill your performance. When I was in college, my doctor told me that a human brain can fully concentrate on one thing for about 45-50 minutes. After that, productivity decreases. He suggested using the 50/10 rule: 50 minutes of work followed by 10 minutes of rest.

Even after a short break, your brain is ready to tackle your projects once again. 10 minutes can be a wonderful tool to refresh your brain and keep you from burning out too early in the day.

Also, consider pacing your brain throughout the week. Do your harder assignments early in the week when your mind is fresh and you aren’t daydreaming about the weekend. 

So much has changed over the last several weeks, but you can still finish this semester strong. Practicing these tips can increase your productivity in many areas of your life, but homework is a good place to start.