August has been a quiet month for me. This means a lot less running around and a lot more time at home to work on my own projects, including studying some more German.
This always brings up a lot of challenges for me. The truth is: I find it difficult to study from home. I get distracted easily. I get nervous staying in the same place for too long. And I feel guilty for wasting time when I ‘should’ be doing more.
So by the end of the day, I feel exhausted and also like I’ve done nothing.
It’s also very difficult to create variety for yourself when you are in the same place all day.
By ‘variety’ I mean doing different things at different times. I know students who are studying for an exam and they only focus on one part of the exam for a whole day or even for a whole week. I understand this if you are nervous about one part of the exam. You want to focus on it so you get better.
The problem with this is …
…it can become too much because you are over thinking and ‘over studying.’ This can sometimes become demotivating and you actually get worse at this part of the exam. It’s true. I’ve seen this and experienced it myself.
… there is no variety. You are doing one thing for a long period of time. This can make it difficult to concentrate and you get BORED. Which is also demotivating.
So how can we create balance when we study at home? How can we find a balance between free time and study? And how can we find a balance between different topics?
Here are a few methods which I have found useful in the past:
… Create a timetable: When I studied for my A levels (a English college certificate), I drew a timetable at the beginning of everyday. One hour for science, one hour for maths, one hour for English etc. The time you spend on a topic is your choice. I find one hour worked for me. For some people it’s 2 hours, for other people it’s 25 minutes. It doesn’t matter how long it is – find the time period that works for you.
… Change between difficult and easy / interesting and boring: There are always parts of studying (and life!) which we find boring. The trick is to NOT spend TOO long on something you find boring. So do something you like or something you find easy, then do something more difficult/boring. Then do something fun/easy. Then do something difficult/boring… and so on. This way you have variety and also stay motivated AND get things done.
… Remember it’s OK to have distractions: Maybe you can see this as a sign that your brain needs a break. Breaks are so so important. In fact there is a method (the ‘pomodoro’ method) which gives you time to have distractions. We are all human and our brain needs time to breathe, so give yourself the chance to have distractions, then come back to your studies fresher than before.
… Make a list of everything you have done in that day: Sometimes we get to the end of the day and think ‘oh I’m so useless I haven’t done anything today!’… But ask yourself: how can that be true when you have been working all day?
Get some perspective and make a list. Or call a friend and tell them about your day. This does two things: 1) you can see yourself all the things you have done and be PROUD about them and 2) this is excellent memory training for the brain and helps you to review the things you have done one more time.
Oh and 3) it’s also a chance to see what you want to do tomorrow: where you can study more or where you can study less. This is a great way to make progress.
… Find a study partner: Whether it’s someone you study next to, or just someone you call at the end of the day, it’s great to have a study partner or a guide or a teacher when you are studying for a long time. Someone you can talk with about things you find difficult, someone you can share your achievements with, someone who can check on your progress, someone who can help you and someone YOU can help.
So ask yourself: who could you study with? Who will motivate you? Who could help you to learn?
(It’s very important to find a study partner who will HELP you to study and not distract you – so think very carefully when you are choosing who you want to work with).
Studying from home can be fun, easy and productive if we learn how to do it well. All we need to do is to find people and methods we work well with and create a balance in our home-studying life. So try something from the methods I’ve shared today and see what works for you. If something doesn’t work, try something else. Remember this is YOUR process which is magical and exciting, and gives you a chance to learn more about you PLUS the subject you are studying.
Are you looking for a teacher to guide you through an important exam? I can help! Just send me an email and let’s meet for a trial lesson 🙂