Last Updated on August 28, 2023
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how to study effectively at home
STUDY SKILLS: HOW TO STUDY AT HOME EFFECTIVELY
Being able to study at home effectively is an important skill to have, especially if you’re thinking about going to uni. You’ll spend most of your time studying independently, organising your workload and setting your own study schedule.
Tips for studying at home
Studying at home is something you can master through practice. These tips will help you stay motivated and organised when you’re at home and help you prepare for independent learning at uni.
1. Choose a work station
Find a quiet place at home. This may be in your bedroom, or a spare room in the house. Make sure it has enough lighting, it’s the right temperature and has space for your computer and notes.
2. Set yourself goals
Goals will help you stay productive and motivated. Think about what you’re aiming for and write it down. You could break down big monthly goals into smaller weekly or daily targets.
3. Prioritise your work
Think about what tasks you need to do first. Is there a logical order to tackle your work? Do the most urgent and important work first, but give yourself enough time to get all your tasks done by using time management techniques.
4. Use a diary or calendar
Plan your studies in a paper diary or digital planner. You can list any important deadlines coming up and use it to keep track of tasks that you’ve done.
5. Block out noisy distractions
If you really want to focus, try putting your phone on flight mode for 1 hour, or turn off the radio and TV and only watch videos, or listen to podcasts that are relevant to your subject.
6. Reward yourself
Reward yourself when you complete a goal. It’s an incentive to stay motivated, but also because you deserve it. Take some time to catch up on Netflix, or with friends or grab a bar of chocolate – whatever makes you happy.
Practice makes perfect
Studying at home effectively takes practice, so don’t worry if you struggle to stay motivated at first. Keep using the tips above and try your best. You can also check out our study skills for more help and advice on independent learning, and topics such as revision, digital skills and organisation.
What kind of learner are you?
Identifying how you work best inside a classroom can also help you study at home effectively.
In class, do you prefer techniques such as note-taking, mind maps or teaching others? The 3 most common learning styles are:
1. Visual learners
If you’re a visual learner, things like mind maps or looking at graphs help you understand information. You may prefer using charts, diagrams or other illustrations to written information. If you have lots of written work, try breaking it up onto colourful sticky notes to decorate your study space.
2. Auditory learners
Are you better at listening to instructions or repeating what you’ve learnt to others? Try sharing what you’re learning at school or college with friends or people at home. Teaching them what you’ve discovered is a good way of retaining information.
3. Hands-on learners
Your teacher may call this kinesthetic learning. It just means you prefer hands-on activities, so you learn by doing.
Techniques such as creating flash cards, playing with a stress ball when reading, along with telling another person what they’ve been learning work best.
Maybe you don’t fit into just 1 of these categories, or maybe some or all 3 apply. That’s okay. The key here is to identify what techniques are going to work well for you by thinking reflectively. Once you figure out how you like to learn, try putting it into practice at home.
How to Study at Home Effectively [7 Step Guide]
If you are someone who has often wondered how people are able to study effectively at home surrounded by its wide and varied opportunities for distraction, then here are some useful tips to try and become a skilled home worker.
The number of people studying from home has certainly never been higher. The COVID-19 lockdown means a prolonged period cooped up indoors.
For those of us who struggle with working at home and who sought their productive study haven in a silent library or a bustling café, this presents a problem.
Learning to study from home as effectively as possible is great preparation for the 21st-century workplace where WFH (Working From Home) was already a distinctive feature. Post lockdown, WFH is set to be the new norm.
#1: Finding Your Space to Study Effectively
Choosing a good study space within the home is a good place to start. Whilst the temptation may be to lie in bed and work in a world of comfort, it is far better to be sat upright with a flat surface in front of you, such as a desk or dining table.
As luxurious as it sounds, working in front of the television is also not a smart idea.
A lack of natural light can often be a problem when you’re sat facing a screen all day, so positioning yourself near a window can reduce the strain on your eyes and leave you feeling less tired.
Make sure your study space is neat and tidy enough for you to organise your books and notes.
For those that would normally be found working studiously in the library then a spot with peace and quiet will be the optimum setting in which to study.
Not everyone likes to work in such sedate surroundings though, so if you are the type to linger in the background of a busy coffee shop, then replicate the atmosphere with some subdued background instrumental music.
Gathering around a table with your housemates for a communal study session is not a good idea but a joint study session with someone on your course via Zoom or Skype is a great way to keep up your focus and motivation.
#2: Create a Routine
Procrastination is not your friend. Don’t fall into the trap of getting up late and dithering around.
Spending a small amount of time compiling a study timetable makes life a lot easier. Plan in time for treats – a favourite tv show, talking to friends – as well as time for work.
Setting yourself some specific objectives to complete at the start of each day can also help to give each day feel unique. Being able to tick off what you have done will also give you a feeling of accomplishment, and this can help you manage your time.
#3: Stick to Your Working Habits
Try to avoid getting into bad habits.
If you know you are someone that works best in the morning then make sure you get up early.
There are conflicting theories on whether background music is harmful or beneficial to your studies; one thing for certain is that the habit is widespread.
The discussion over the consequence of playing music whilst doing your work covers everything from the particular genre of music to the volume it is being played and, crucially, whether there are lyrics.
The BBC recently explored both sides of the argument but every student is different. It is important to be honest with yourself about whether music is a help or a hindrance.
Not everyone works in the same manner. Being an ‘early bird’ is not necessarily better than being a ‘night owl.’
Although some studies may warn against working in the early hours, for some people working under the moonlight is their most effective way of studying.
As long as you are getting a decent amount of sleep and avoid becoming sleep deprived, night working can be a way of avoiding a busy home environment – particularly if you have had to surrender the privacy of your student room as a result of COVID-19 to return home to a house filled with noisy younger siblings.
By all means, work in clothes that you feel comfortable in but, if you are trying to study in your dressing gown or pyjamas, then it might prevent you from getting into the correct work mindset.
Maybe by wearing something you would actually wear to your lecture or seminar, it will make you feel more professional. Wearing comfy clothes during your time off will also help to create a clear distinction between work and play.
#4 How to beat distractions
When it comes to studying effectively, your phone can become your own worst enemy.
If you are someone who too often succumbs to the temptation of going onto social media or messaging your friends then you need to work out how best to stop the lure of your phone.
For some people turning your phone off and putting it somewhere out of near sight in another room is an effective enough method to stop it from getting in the way of your studying.
Since the discussion around our digital health came more into prominence in recent years there has been an increase in applications which actually aim to keep you away from your phone.
Apps such as Forest reward you for not checking your phone constantly by growing virtual trees which eventually lead to the planting of genuine real trees in environments badly in need of them.
- Temporarily deleting certain apps so that you are less drawn to your phone
- You can temporarily disable social media accounts
- Work somewhere with no TV or Radio in the background
- Ask the people you live with or your siblings not to disturb you
- Try to use your distractions as something to treat yourself with during your break
- Eat only during your specified breaks, food can be a distraction
#5 Stay in Touch
Although you may be physically cut off from university during Lockdown, remember that your university will have a plethora of online resources to keep you in touch with your studies.
Your university library will be accessible online and many libraries and other organisations across the country are opening up their resources during the COVID-19 crisis.
If you are struggling with a topic or losing motivation, you should still be able to contact your tutor by email or participate in online study groups with friends.
If you start to struggle with your Mental Health during the lockdown, don’t hesitate to contact Student Support Services or the Student Medical Centre as they will still be there to help.
Information on how to alleviate the strain on your mental health during this period can be found here.
A more student-specific range of resources on this subject can be found on the Graduate Coach.
#6 Keep Yourself Healthy
When your brain is being stretched to limit the from studying it is important to give it as much nutritional support as possible.
Make sure there are plenty of healthy snacks in the fridge and stick to three meals a day. If you are at home, try to make lunch or dinner a family meal.
The Guardian printed their version of the ideal studying diet to follow, but just eating healthy snacks is not going to suddenly improve your ability to study effectively if you are not doing a decent amount of exercise each week.
Aerobic exercise is said to improve the ability of your brain to learn and store new information, so even if you are only allowed out of the house to exercise once a day at present you should make sure it is to exercise.
Caffeine can be a saviour for some people but repeatedly drinking copious amounts of energy drinks or coffee is best to be avoided. You don’t want to be lying awake in bed all night with sleep-deprivation.
Ensuring you get at least the recommended eight hours of sleep a day is crucially important to maintaining your ability to study.
Being able to nod off easily does not come naturally to everyone and so the Graduate Coach has outlined a few methods to improve your ability to sleep.
#7 Give Yourself Breaks
Giving yourself proper study breaks is as important as the work itself.
Switching between topics or moving from note-making to listening to podcasts can help to combat monotony.
Even if you are the type of person who likes to power through your work for hours on end, your studying will be more effective if you interleave study activities and better still if you take regular breaks.
Exercising can be very beneficial to your studies, especially when you’ve been sat at a desk all day. Lockdown gives you a maximum of one hour of outdoor exercise. This means you need to plan to take full advantage of the exercise time to ensure that you get plenty of fresh air.
Going for a walk/dog walk is a good way to use your break and it won’t leave you completely worn out.
The worst thing you can do during long periods of studying is to become a complete recluse and hardly be seen out of your room for a few weeks. Social interaction during your breaks will benefit you mentally and leave you to feel less isolated.
Implementing study breaks can help your learning and prevent you from suffering from academic burnout.
how to study effectively at home without distraction
How to Study at Home and Not Get Distracted
Studying at Home
Studying at home may be the most convenient way to study and do your homework, but home is also full of distractions. That’s where a lot of our favorite stuff is! It can be tough to stay focused when studying at home, but there are a lot of things you can do to avoid distractions and get your work completed.
Find a Private Place to Study
It’s important to have a private place to study in your home. While you’re trying to study for an upcoming test, parents, siblings, and roommates may have questions they want to ask you, requests to make, games to play, and or do any number of things to try to get your attention. Even when people you live with don’t mean to, they can be distracting if you’re trying to study in a common area like a living room or a kitchen where people are talking, watching television, and going about their day.
Find a private place to study, such as your bedroom, an office space, a basement, an attic, or even outside if the weather is nice. Giving yourself some space to be alone and focus on your studies is one of the most important steps you can take to get your work done. And once you have found your private place to study, you should clearly communicate to anyone who might distract you that you would like to study and would like not to be disturbed.
Find a Quiet Place or Listen to Music
A place to study should also be quiet. It won’t do you any good to find a private place if you can still hear distractions down the hall, or a noisy neighbor outside.
A quiet place can be easier said than done if you have a busy house or if there is a lot of distracting noise coming from outside. Another strategy you can use here is to put on headphones and listen to music while you study. Music without lyrics (classical, jazz, metal, hip-hop beats, etc…) can help block out the distractions around you and center you on your studies. If you’re not sure what music in your collection would be a good fit for studying, Youtube is full of playlists of ‘music to study to.’
- Please note: while music can be a good way to tune out distractions, you don’t want to damage your hearing by turning the volume up on your headphones too loud. Always listen to your music at a safe decibel level.
Online and Mobile Distractions
The internet is a great learning tool, and it’s likely that you’ll want it at your disposal as you study or complete your homework. But we all know that the internet is also full of distractions, and at any given time you’re only one click away from funny videos, social media, messaging your friends, or falling down a rabbit hole on Google.
When studying online, you might find it useful to install ‘website blocking software’ in order to block the sites you find yourself distracted by the most. There are several free and easy-to-install website blockers available for any given browser, and this can be a good option for you if you’re finding that the temptation to visit a certain website is too distracting for you to concentrate.
Once distracting sites have been dealt with, you may also find that your phone is equally distracting. If you’re using your phone to study, you can search for similar website blocking programs in your app store. If you’re not using your phone to study, you might consider putting it on airplane mode or turning it off while you study. This will also help you stop distractions from phone calls and texts.
In addition to online and mobile distractions on the very devices you’re using to study, you may find that the objects in the private, quiet place you’ve found to study can also be distracting. You might be tempted to turn on a television, pick up a guitar, play a video game, read a book, or any number of things that might strike you as more interesting than studying at that moment. One thing you can do is try to eliminate these physical distractions from your space (unplug the TV, move the guitar to another room, unplug/remove the video games, etc…)
However, other distractions might not be so easy to remove: you might remember a chore you wanted to get done, you might get hungry or thirsty, you might remember an old friend you’ve been meaning to message, or any number of other distractions that will come to mind. For those, you might find it useful to make a study schedule.
Make a Study Schedule and Stick to It
If you simply say to yourself ‘I’m going to study for a while,’ you might find that you don’t end up getting anything done at all due to distractions, or just calling it a day before you’ve studied what you set out to focus on.
Committing to a more concrete schedule can help you stay focused because it can provide guidance and boundaries when you feel yourself losing interest in your studies. By saying ‘I’m going to study from 6-7 PM,’ you’ve given yourself a firm start and stop time to study. So when 6:30 rolls around and you’re losing interest, and you’re thinking about getting up to get a snack, you can remind yourself that you committed to studying from 6-7, and can push the distraction away instead of giving in. You can always take care of those other tasks or distractions before or after your study session.
Engaging Online Learning
Studying from textbooks and classroom notes can be prone to distraction because you may feel bored and the information can feel uninteresting and dry. One way to prevent yourself from being distracted could be to use an engaging online learning resource, such as Study.com.
Study.com offers tens of thousands of short, fun online videos that can help you study a wide variety of subject areas, and prepare for a large number of standardized exams. Using Study.com’s videos can be a good way to keep your attention focused, and after each short lesson you can test your retention with a short 5-question quiz
Studying at home is convenient, but avoiding distractions can be tough. Some methods we recommend to study hard and avoid distraction are:
- Find a private place to study and use clear communication with those around you that you don’t want to be distracted.
- Find a quiet place to study, or else use music to help you tune out distractions and focus on your work. Music with no lyrics can be a good fit for this.
- Avoid online and mobile distractions, or even eliminate them altogether with website blocking software. If you’re not using your phone to study, you might consider putting it on airplane mode or shutting it off.
- Remove physical distractions, such as video games, from your space.
- Make a schedule and stick to it! Committing to a schedule can be more effective than simply saying you want to study ‘for a while.’
- Utilize engaging online education resources. Sites like Study.com provide interesting, fun, short videos that can help you learn and may hold your attention better than textbooks or class notes.