5 ways to (actually) study at home

Here’s how to avoid the dreaded Netflix marathon trap and really get your work done.

Photo: Vlada Karpovich

Studying at home can be a little challenging. Having the option of laying down for a “quick” break and watching some of my favourite Netflix shows is extremely tempting, even though I know it can lead to several hours of procrastination. Here are a few tips that I've found to be useful in keeping me focused.

 

Set up a study space


This is actually more important than you think. If you’re working from bed, you’re going to feel like napping. Setting up a space in your home designated solely for studying is a great start to enhance your productivity. You'll need a desk, a good chair, and access to a wall outlet. If possible, be close to a window to let in some natural light. This guide from the Bissett Student Success Centre has more tips.

 

Keep your space tidy


The tidiness of your space has a great effect on your concentration levels. A clean space will help you think clearly and stay focused. If you’re thinking about where your stuff is, like that pen you love but can’t find, you’ll be very distracted. Having a clean and organized space will allow you to pay attention to your homework instead of wasting time thinking about where you left your pen.

 

Establish a routine


A routine is great for a number of reasons. It provides a structure to get things done, keeps little things from becoming overwhelming, and allows you to plan your day effectively. It's important for you to know what kind of routine works best for you. Be honest with yourself. If you know you work best in the morning, set up an alarm to wake up and begin your day productively (even if you’d rather hit snooze). If you know you work better in the evening, create a schedule that lets you be productive without harming your sleep.

 

Get organized


Organization is key to a productive life! Once you have a routine that works for you, staying organized will motivate you to get through your day. Make yourself a clear calendar with your tasks, projects, and assignments to help map out your day and keep yourself on track.

 

Make a study plan


Planning and goal-setting are great ways to focus your attention on the right things. Tap into your goal-setting skills and use them to help you plan your study time. For example, if you have a test coming up, and your goal is to get an A, you should focus on the questions and topics you think will be covered in it. This will help you keep your attention on the really important things.

Your goals should be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. Make sure you don’t overload yourself with too much for a single study session, and that you know what needs to get done every day. If you need help setting goals, you can use this handout or sign up for a Setting SMART Goals workshop.