It’s all over the news, social media, and everywhere in-between: social distancing. Yes, this does mean that businesses that are usually open have closed their doors temporarily, universities have moved online, and toilet paper is now a rare commodity. What does this mean for studying? Old habits die hard, and a lot of students are used to going to the library to work on homework or hunkering down at a local coffee shop for a project. To help with the changes taking place, here are different ways to make studying at home more effective, engaging, and successful and help ease some of the stress of our new homebound realities.
1. Maintain a consistent sleep schedule
Good studying starts the night before the textbook is even open. When going somewhere other than home is not an option, it is easy to let a sleep schedule fly out the window. It seemed like a good choice at the time to binge that new TV show for a full 24 hours, but implementing a digital curfew 30 minutes before bedtime promotes melatonin release and reduces exposure to the blue light waves that keep us alert. Students are encouraged to get a full eight hours of sleep each night to be well-rested for the tasks of the next day and to wake up and get out of bed at the same time to prevent insomnia.
2. Have a designated study area
No, cozied up in bed doesn’t count. Pick a spot in a room, whether it’s the couch, a desk, or the kitchen table, and make that your workspace. Lay out the materials you will need to study, keep the area tidy, and let plenty of light into the room. Having a clean, well-lit space to go to when work needs to get done is the best way to stay focused when studying at home. If on the couch, make sure to stay sitting up rather than lying down when working to prevent unintentional napping.
3. Structure your day like any other day
Creating a timetable that resembles what your days looked like on campus will help keep the studying and assignments on track. Make sure to attend your online lectures, and incorporating the recommended study time of three study hours per credit hour of class will fill your days and meet those goals. Make a to-do list and plan how long you will take to complete an assignment or watch a video, switching gears when time is up on each item, or it is checked off.
4. Incorporate breaks
It’s easy to overwork when in the comfort of home, so remember to plan in a brain break throughout the day. These breaks are an essential part of the studying process, too, because brains need a little time to process information before moving on to another subject. However, avoid social media during these breaks, as we all know the feeling of falling down the social media rabbit hole and losing hours of valuable time in the day.
5. Get some fresh air
It’s easy to feel trapped staring at the same walls day in and day out. Now that it’s springtime, the weather is perfect for a walk around the neighborhood or campus. Try taking a walk in the morning and evening to destress from the day and get those daily step counts in. Just be sure to maintain a healthy distance away from neighbors!
6. Put unnecessary electronics away
Although it’s tempting to put on the latest hit Netflix series in the background (Tiger King anyone?) or have your cell phone lying on the table, avoid having things that can easily distract in the work area. Set times in the day to check social media and text messages, and leave the phone in another room to create another way to stretch your legs.
We should all be social distancing, but that doesn’t mean eliminating social interaction. Attend your video class meetings to see familiar faces, establish a study group conference call, or make a lunch date over Zoom with friends to keep the loneliness at bay.
Although stress can be high during this change in routine, stay positive! Encourage yourself because you know your limits and can do anything you put your mind to with the right tools at your disposal. The great thing about living in this technology age is the help at the touch of a button. Visit tutor.uco.edu for online tutoring and email your professors to ask questions.
It’s a strange time, but it is in times like this to remember you are not alone in this. Visit UCO’s coronavirus website to view what services are available and their hours and contact information. Don’t be afraid to reach out for the help that is always within reach from the university. Stay motivated, and rely on friends and loved ones to keep you accountable.