College Students: 12 Tips for Studying At Home

12 Tips For Studying At Home 

1. Talk to the people you live with.

If you haven't already done this, use this as a checklist. Show them your class schedule. Explain to them that while you are in class, you cannot be disturbed. If necessary hang a sign or create some sort of signal (this will help keep even young siblings away). Explain to them how long it takes to do one homework problem; read a chapter; or review notes. Explain to them what a study group is. Show them when you have big tests and final exams. Tell them that this is not forever. Tell them when the semester ends!

2. Create a Distraction-Free Study Space

The key to studying at home is to create a space within your home that has some of the benefits of a school or library, with as few of the distractions of the home as possible. In other words, you need a nook where you can work without a TV, bed, or other distracting objects near you. 

Some students have achieved this by setting up their study space on a dining room table in their home. Others have set up a desk in the hallway so that they won’t be tempted to go to their room and sleep. Some may be able to use the common computer room or study space.

Of course, this study space doesn’t have to be barren and plain. You can have a bright and comfortable study space with color, light, and even fun things like stress balls and bean bag chairs for when you need a break. As long as this is a space where you can block out the rest of the world and spend a few hours focused on schoolwork, you can decorate and set it up however you want.

3. Create an Appropriate Routine

Yay, you do not have commute any more. You are saving so much time NOT looking for parking and running to class! However, do not stay in your pajamas all day. Try to wake up and eat breakfast before your classes begin. Try to evoke a feeling of  determination by getting ready: shower and dress. This mindset will help you be productive throughout the day. 

Something as simple as getting ready in the morning as if you were going to school can really put your mind in a more determined, focused state. This can really help you get into that focused, productive mindset. In other words, if you dress the part of a focused student, you have a better chance of acting the part of a focused student. 

So when you get up in the morning, if you know you have a long day of studying ahead of you, take a shower, brush your teeth, and put on clothes as if you were going to school. You’ll likely feel refreshed, clean, and ready to tackle the day’s work. 

4. Follow a School-Like Schedule 

The easiest way to mimic the focus and productivity that you have in school is by working on the same schedule you would when you’re in school. Similarly to how you spend consecutive periods in different subjects during the school day, you can set a schedule for yourself that has you spend a certain amount of consecutive hours studying each subject every day. 

This routine may seem a bit odd at first since you won’t be moving around like you do when you switch classes at school. However, much like you get used to the school schedule in a few days after summer vacation, you’ll get used to the new schedule you set for yourself as well. 

The great thing about setting your own schedule is that you can create a schedule that is optimal for your study habits. You can set as many breaks as you want for as long as you want. You can give yourself as much time as you need to study each course sufficiently. Unlike school, where every study follows the same schedule, you can optimize your study-at-home schedule to fit your study needs. 


5. Avoid Your Bed At All Costs

Most students have fallen prey to this sneaky trap. We get tired in the middle of the day from being productive in the morning. We think we can take a small nap break. Next thing we know, we’ve slept most of the afternoon away and then wake up not wanting to do any more studying. It is so easy to do, and it can ruin what could have been a very effective study day. 

So, as a general rule, when you’re trying to study, avoid your bed as much as you can. Try to study in a chair or at a desk, where you have to sit up and pay attention. If you let yourself lie down or try to study in bed, you are guaranteed to feel sleepier and not be as productive. If you don’t really have any other space to study, try to sit on your bed a different way, away from your pillows, so you’re less tempted to fall asleep.

6. Take Breaks

There is no sense in trying to study for 10-12 hours straight if your body and mind can’t handle that. After the first few hours, you are going to get tired, and your brain won’t be able to absorb and retain information as well as it could if you were rested. At this point, you can study all you want, but you will not be studying productively. 

It’s okay to take periodic breaks during the day as often as you need to. Mind you, these won’t be long breaks. You don’t want to lose your motivation! But you can take 15 minutes here and there to clear your head, recharge, and be ready to tackle those books again at full force. 

It’s important to note that the most effective breaks are those where you get away from your study space and take your mind off of the task at hand. You’re not really going to be resting your mind if you’re still at your desk and thinking about all the assignments you have to do. Instead, walk around the house, take a short walk, get something to eat, and just clear your mind as much as you can. 

7. Form Virtual Study Groups

Who says that study groups need to be in person? In this day and age, with technologies like Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, or just a plain phone call, you can connect with your fellow classmates from the comfort of your home and help each other learn just as if you were together in class. 

There are several benefits to virtual study groups. Some video conferencing platforms allow you to record your meetings, so you can look back on the study session you and your peers had if you ever forget what was said. You can also mute yourself whenever you need to so that you can multitask, if needed. Finally, the home environment seems far less lonely and maybe even more fun when you have students like you to talk to you and compare notes with. 

If you think it’ll help your productivity, try to connect with some friends and form a virtual study group. Even if you don’t get as much out of it academically, it may be beneficial for your mental health while you’re studying at home. 

8. Get Your Other Chores Out Of The Way 

One of the most annoying things that can happen to a teenager is to be working in the zone, then to be distracted by their parents asking them to do the dishes, laundry, etc. Taking unplanned breaks during your study time to do something else can really mess up your concentration. It’s hard to get back in the zone once you’ve been pulled out of it. 

So if you know that you also need to do some household chores in addition to your math homework, try to knock the chores out either before or after your study session. This way, you won’t be constantly worried about getting them done, and you’ll be less likely to be distracted while you’re trying to study. 

9. Set Boundaries For Yourself 

If you find that you’re going to be working from home for a few days or even a few weeks, you’re going to need to make sure that you’re setting boundaries for yourself that will allow you to keep your sanity while not leaving the house. For instance, if you let yourself study for 12 hours a day for days on end, odds are that you are quickly going to get really sick of studying at home. 

Set time limits for yourself each day. Maybe you won’t start working until mid-morning so that you can go for a run and eat a healthy breakfast. Maybe you won’t work best at 6 PM since you want to spend that time with your family. If you set these boundaries for yourself, you will help keep your mental health in check. You may also find that placing time limits on your study time helps to motivate you to get more done during the hours that you are studying. Generally, the more time we give ourselves to do something, the more time we take.

You can also consider setting physical boundaries for yourself. Maybe while you’re studying, you make a deal with yourself to not go into your bedroom. This way, you won’t interact with as many things that can distract you. On the flip side, try to not dawdle in your workspace after you’re done studying for the day. And, if you need to take a break, go to another room; that way, you associate your study space with studying. 

10. Try to Exercise Regularly 

Staying healthy will not only be good for you in the long run, but will also make you productive short term. Exercising can give your body the endorphins and serotonin that it needs to be relaxed, focused, and more productive during the day. The downside to studying at home is that you probably don’t have a gym inside your house where you can get in an intense hour-long workout. While you can’t necessarily do a full workout if you’re stuck at home, there are little exercises that you can do at home to help you be more productive. 

If you have an empty and clean space in your home, you can do floor exercises like crunches, push-ups, and jumping jacks. There are tons of YouTube videos with quick workouts, and they don’t have to be boring; there are even dance workouts! If you feel comfortable going outside, you can take a short walk or run before you start exercising to get your blood pumping. And, if all else fails, walking around your house counts as exercise!

11. Give Yourself Something To Look Forward To 

At the end of the day, if you’re truly not feeling like you’re studying your best, try to set some goals for yourself and reward yourself for hitting those goals. For example, set a goal to review three lecture notes or memorize a structure or do three homework problems. If you do these you will reward yourself with an hour of something you enjoy.

When you have to study from home for a while, it can be easy to fall into a rut. After all, you’re in the same place day after day, and your days aren’t that varied. So positive reinforcement mechanisms like this can really help to keep you going and give you a reason to keep studying. 

12. Get Involved.

Join a student organization such as the Chemistry & Biochemistry Club. Being around other students with academic goals will help you stay motivated. You will see that you are not alone and that we are all facing challenges while at home. Form a study group to stay on schedule and keep you from being distracted. If you make a point to study for a subject with a study group, you will be more likely to stay on course.