Learning and doing school from home is something we’re all having to get used to at the moment and whilst it can be a challenge, we can definitely make things easier for ourselves. So, here are 5 practical things you can implement today to start making this easier.
- Stick to a routine. When there’s so much change around us, having some level of predictability and routine is absolutely essential and the easiest way to do this is simply to follow your school timetable. Last year, when schools closed in March, I quickly realised that my days gradually lost any sense of structure. We didn’t even have scheduled Zoom lessons as I was in Sixth-form. Waking up on Monday morning to tens of emails detailing work to be submitted on Friday took some adjusting. After slipping into the temptation of sleeping until ridiculous hours, working from my bed and completing tasks just before the deadline, I decided to get a routine. If I was supposed to have History on a Monday morning, then guess what I did on Mondays: my history work. Establishing a good routine allows you to schedule in time for resting after school and completing any work that needs to be done. If you’d like to create a revision timetable, Get Revising has a resource on their website which helps you build one in minutes.
- Location, location, location. Undoubtedly, not everyone has access to a desk or an office space at home but I still think it’s key to have a designated work space. Assigning a specific location to work means that our brains start to associate that place with working, and nothing but work. If for example, you decide that your dining table will be your work space after school, your brain begins to equate dining with work during that late afternoon/early evening period and it becomes easier for you to get into “work mode” once you’re there. If you’re trying to work and play the latest game in the exact same spot, every time you approach this location, you have to think about which action to perform (and we all know which one would be easier to choose!) Make it as easy as possible for you to get your work done and dedicate a space to it.
- Eliminate distractions! How many times have we promised yourself ‘just one YouTube video’ or ‘I’ll only spend 10 minutes on social media’ and 2 hours go by without realising? My advice would be to put your phone away whilst working, whether that means on airplane mode, away in a drawer or giving it to someone you trust until you finish working. If I have my work and 2 of my favourite games right before me on my desk as I should be working, guess what I’m more likely to do? (play the game, let’s be honest here.) Put away any distractions, put a timer on and focus on one task for the duration of that time.
- Learning is more fun when we do it with others. (Yes, learning can be fun!). If you’re struggling to understand a particular concept, maybe ask a friend if they would be willing to help explain it over a quick call. Another useful tip is to have a friend who can help keep you accountable. At the start of the day, you could tell each other the work you aim to get done that day and later on, tell each other about how you did throughout the day and provide some encouragement to keep going.
- Work in manageable chunks. The Pomodoro technique is a great way to split up daunting tasks. All you have to do is work on one thing for 25 minutes and then take a 5 minute break. Repeat the process two to three times and then take a longer break when you need to. If you really, really can’t seem to just start working, put a timer on for 2 minutes and work for that long. You can also vary the focus time if you’d like to work in 30 minute chunks or for 45 minutes at a time. Most times, you’ll want to keep going and you’re more likely to continue given that starting can be the hardest part. If you can’t focus, it might be that you need to ask yourself why: Are you tired? Or have you also been trying to watch TV whilst working?
I hope these tips have been helpful and that you can start implementing some of them into your habits. The conversation doesn’t have to end here however, if you have any tips for mastering online learning, simple or weird, leave a comment and let’s continue to help each other grow.