Here are some of my tips for studying at home:
- Background noise. In my three years at uni, I’ve tried it all: ‘chill’ music playlists, lo-fi beats, classical music, throwback tunes… But I am now 100% convinced that I am most productive when I listen to nature sounds (rain sounds are my favourite) or brown noise. The lack of lyrics and beats really helps me focus on my work while not making me feel the same level of pressure that I feel in complete silence. You can find these on Spotify, Youtube, or you can even ask Alexa to play them for you!
- Use an app such as Forest that doesn’t allow you to use your phone for a set amount of time. I don’t think I’ve ever been as distracted by my phone as I am in quarantine, which is why the Forest app has been a lifesaver (I’ve actually used it during every exam season since year 1). You can choose whether you want to put your phone away for anywhere between 10 minutes and 2 hours. I find that 60-90 minutes works best for me. I try to then take a 5-15 minute break and start work again.
- Take a proper lunch break. Usually, in term 3 when I studied in the library, going on a lunch break with my friends would be the absolute highlight of our day. As soon as we got to the library in the morning, we’d be counting down the hours until 1pm, when we'd go out in the sun (or the Ikea room on rainy days) and forget about revision for about an hour (admittedly, sometimes longer...). At home, I find that blocking out 1-2 hours in the middle of the day for lunch and catching up with friends virtually really helps me continue working into the afternoon.
- Plan out the upcoming weeks. I’ve designed my own calendar in the Numbers app (that everyone has on their MacBooks—it’s basically the equivalent of Excel) and planned out roughly what I want to be working on each day until the end of term. I try to be as specific as possible in order to actually stick to my goals; so instead of planning to ‘work on dissertation,’ I might specifically set out to ‘finish writing the results chapter’ for example.