Five Tips for Productive Study at Home

Mar 27, 2020

Even for the most productive amongst us, working from home can often be a challenge. The temptation to stay in pyjamas, just finish watching that one episode or treat ourselves to an extra hour in bed can be a hard habit to quit. However, these tips and tricks ensure that you will be on track to successfully achieve your goals with time to spare!

tips for productive study at home


1. Create the right routine


In the absence of a school schedule, trying to work out what tasks to prioritise can be overwhelming. Start by keeping it simple and blocking out a basic timetable for yourself. Creating a separate routine from what you would usually do on a day off can make those more relaxed days feel all the more worthwhile! As comfortable as lounging in pyjamas can be, making sure that you get up and dressed helps get your brain into the right headspace for work. Similarly, try and limit the late nights. The more awake you are, the quicker and more efficient you will be at ticking off your to-do list, leaving you more downtime later in the day. Most importantly, be realistic about what you can achieve. We are all only human, and some days we aren’t going to work perfectly. Break up your day’s goals into 3-5 manageable tasks and enjoy the satisfaction of crossing them off after you complete them! 

Pro Tip: If you find you are struggling with completing the tasks you have set yourself, don’t be afraid to adjust your routine and set yourself fewer daily goals with more time to finish them. It is better to end the day reflecting on the satisfaction of achieving one task well, rather than worrying about what you didn’t manage to do.



2. Organise a space


When working from home, it is easy to blur the line between study time and chill time. As a result, it can be common to feel guilty about not doing work when relaxing. This problem is easily solvable by making sure you create a clear divide between your work and relaxation spaces. Whilst studying in bed may seem more comfortable, it can make it more difficult to get into the right mindset to study, as well as making it harder to switch off that mindset when night-time rolls around. Instead, ensure you have a clear space to work that is away from where you would usually de-stress, whether that is a room other than your bedroom or a designated desk space. Try to be strict with yourself! Don’t take breaks in your work space and don’t think about study in your relaxation space. By setting up these boundaries, you will find it quicker and easier to match your headspace to your work space in a way that will allow you to most efficiently achieve your goals – as well as keeping your treasured time off reserved just for you!

Pro Tip: Try and keep your work space organised and tidy. Research shows that tidiness directly affects our productivity and saves you time by making resources and notes easier to find. The more productive you are = the quicker and more efficiently the job gets done!



3. No distractions? No problem


We are living in an incredible world that is more connected than ever. However, pushing the amazing opportunities this provides aside, more worldwide connections also means more worldwide distractions. While schools often have limitations on when you can access your phone, there are none of these rules at home. Nobody likes to feel as though they are missing out. The temptation to check the newsfeed or answer a friend’s text can overcome the best of us and before you know it, a whole hour has whittled away behind the screen. Minimise the temptation by putting your phone out of sight, then hopefully out of your mind. If you are prone to message backwards and forwards with friends, let them know that you are going to be studying for the next hour or two. Your friends will want to support you the best they can, so make it clear that they shouldn’t message you at this time and even better, put your notifications on mute. By working with your friends in this way, you can help each other. For example, if they see you online during your designated study time, get them to call you out on it! If there is a parent, guardian, or even a sibling you trust in the house, give them your phone to look after whilst you are working. That way, even when the temptation to check-up inevitably comes along, you will still be limiting your access. At the very least, you can look forward to catching up in your study break! 

Pro Tip: There are plenty of useful apps you can download to limit your phone screen time and block certain apps at certain hours of the day. Check them out here.

tips for productive study at home


4. Get inventive with how you work


Working from home is a great opportunity to try a different way of studying, so make the most of it! While school libraries and classrooms can often limit you to silent study and small spaces, your own home gives you the opportunity to mix it up a little. Studying with music, reciting things out loud, coming up with rhymes, poems or even songs to remember facts and filling your study space with posters, pictures and flashcards are all good starting points to make your work feel more exciting. Just because you are sticking to a routine, doesn’t mean you have to stick to a method. Instead, view home study as the perfect chance to find a unique way of working that fits you best. There are 3 different types of learning style for you to try:

  • Visual learners – learn best when the information is presented visually. Use resources such as posters, pictures and text to help visualise concepts. 
  • Auditory learners – learn best through listening to the information. Try looking at online TED talks, youtube videos, audiobooks or online lectures. 
  • Kinesthetic learners – learn best through action. Get creative acting out concepts and creating learning aids to better your understanding of a topic. 

Pro Tip: Mixing up your study style will help keep work engaging and enjoyable. To avoid boredom, challenge yourself to spend a day using each of the 3 learning styles and then reflect on what aspects of each one worked best for you. 



5. Relax


Most importantly, take breaks. Just as you must be strict in following your study routine, be strict in giving yourself time off, too. You will find work easier, more enjoyable and have a greater chance of success if you are well rested. Motivate yourself to complete tasks by promising yourself rewards for completing them, whether that’s a sweet treat or the chance to finish off a TV episode. Fun activities will feel all the better knowing that you worked hard to earn them! Equally, if you are struggling with a concept or something just isn’t clicking, give yourself 15 minutes where you switch off and do something else, then try again. Everything will seem clearer with a refreshed brain and it may give you the thinking space to come up with a new angle to approach the problem with.

Pro Tip: Make sure you are getting fresh air. Even if it is impossible in your current situation, spending a few minutes in the garden or opening a window can do the world of good in helping you think straight.



To Summarise:

  • Provide structure to your work by creating a daily routine
  • Maintain boundaries between your organised work space and relaxation space 
  • Minimise distractions by limiting phone access whilst working
  • Use the opportunity to get inventive with your study methods
  • Allow yourself time to relax


Further Reading:

  • Are you thinking of studying Law at University? Check out our blog about taking notes in law school here
  • For more home study tips, read this blog post about how to take notes faster
  • If you’re a parent with a child at home on quarantine, read our blog post here about how to support your children while they’re at home

Looking for online learning opportunities?

If you’re looking for online learning opportunities from home, have a look at our Virtual Summer School – a selection of online courses designed to allow you to get the Oxford experience, from anywhere. We promise these courses are nothing like online school!