We're all getting used to new ways of working as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
For their part, university students are having to work on their coursework under quarantine at the same time as adapting to new forms of remote-learning. With that in mind, we've put together a few tips to consider while you're studying remotely.
1 — Don’t put pressure on yourself
For most of us, the extra time indoors is not an ideal opportunity to finally make headway on a big project — it’s a challenging situation that makes it harder to concentrate on self-directed tasks.
Go easy on yourself. If you’re struggling more than usual to make progress and stay motivated, remember that others are too.
2 — Remember what you like about your subject
Make choices to focus on aspects of your subject that you enjoy as a way-in to larger tasks.
For example, if you’re working on the literature review for your dissertation, look for sources that really get to the heart of what first interested you in your topic. If you have to do preparatory reading for an online seminar, start with the authors you enjoy reading.
We study more effectively when motivated by a sense of interest rather than a sense of obligation.
3 — Break the day up into smaller chunks
It’s easy for the days to get away from you when you’re working under quarantine. Try to break each day up into realistic and manageable tasks. Rather than saying, “on Tuesday, I’m going to do some reading,” give yourself a specific goal of which readings you plan to do when.
And try to maintain the boundary between studying and not studying. Set aside the times when you’re most productive and allow yourself time to appreciate your breaks guilt-free.
4 — Make sure the people you’re living with know when you’re studying
One of the biggest challenges of studying at home are the interruptions. Your flatmates/family members might not be used to you studying at home and so might not know that you’re in the middle of something important when they see you on your laptop or with your head in a book.
If you’re going to set aside a couple of hours to work on something, let them know in advance. They’ll be less likely to interrupt you and you’ll feel more obliged to hold yourself to the task because you’ve told someone else that you’re doing it.
5 — Make contact with your tutors, friends and the authors you’re reading
In these isolated times, the quality of your contact with others becomes even more important.
Your course tutors are busier than ever with the transition to online learning. So if you do get in contact with them, make sure you’re clear about what you need from them, focusing on specific questions that they’ll reasonably be able to answer.
Check-in with friends and ask them how their work is going, even if you wouldn’t normally talk about uni.
And if you’re working on your dissertation, remember that you’re contributing to a much larger conversation within your subject. Treat the interactions you have with your readings as a dialogue.
In his book, How to Write a Thesis, Italian author, Umberto Eco writes, “work on a contemporary author as if he were an ancient, and an ancient one as if he were a contemporary. You will have more fun and write a better thesis.”
6 — Book a tutorial
If there’s an aspect of your studies that you’re still stuck on, book an online tutorial with us. Our tutors can help work through issues you’re encountering with your academic reading, writing and exam prep.
We can help you interpret and apply feedback from your lecturers (especially when they’re too busy to respond!)
And we can answer many of those study-related questions that don’t always get addressed in class.