While remote studying can bring many benefits for efficiency and flexibility, adjusting to this setup requires us to make concerted efforts. Distance learning gives us a lot of freedom, but it also means we have to develop more diligent working habits to replace the routine and structure of on-campus life.
A recent investigation carried out by Buffer reveals a common set of obstacles in the world of remote work, which are also challenges for studying from home. Struggling to unplug, feeling disconnected, and getting distracted are all issues at the top of the list that can hinder our productivity in remote working environments.
That said, with the right approach remote studying can be both effective and rewarding. The space and flexibility to control your schedule allows you to personalize your routine in a way that’s right for you. What’s more, the growing importance of digital companies means that mastering the art of studying from home is not only key for your academic performance, but will also equip you in the future of remote work. In fact, since 2010 the number of professionals working remotely has increased by 400%.
To make the most of distance learning, creating and implementing a remote study schedule is the smart step to take. By building structure for yourself to make seemingly far-off goals more attainable, you’ll curb the pitfalls of studying remotely and develop a fulfilling, productive routine. With our list of tips to help you design the perfect study schedule, you’ll be making habits to drive success in no time at all.
Stick to your start times and keep to your cut-offs
Without a study environment outside of your home, the distinction between work and personal time can become blurred. Arriving at an office or campus in the morning and leaving at the day’s end helps us to switch in and out of the working mindset. This isn’t impossible to achieve in a home environment, so you’ll need to be stricter with yourself in order to separate study time and free time.
One of the perks of remote studying is that it affords you the ability to work when it best suits you. Everyone has different times for peak productivity—while some of us prefer to start in the morning and finish in the early evening, others might find that they’re more efficient later in the day. Get to know when your most productive times are and use them to define your start time and cut-off point. This way, you’ll have a routine that suits you and also leaves plenty of time to relax. And most importantly, stick to it!
Realistic goals for structure and success
Implementing a study routine will undoubtedly boost your productivity and give you direction, but you need to be clear about what you’re working toward. If you’re making a study schedule for several weeks at a time, markers and milestones are an ideal way to structure your time. By breaking it down, you’ll simplify the process of completing a project, revision, or meeting an essay deadline.
Of course, it’s important to stay realistic. Overambitious daily milestones will only cause you to lose motivation if you miss them, so be kind to yourself about the expectations you set. With a mangeable daily objective, you’ll eliminate stress and avoid last-minute panics. That being said, not reaching your target is inevitable every now and then, so try not to be discouraged by a less productive day.
Adapt your wake-up routine
If you were going to campus for the day, you’d almost certainly have a morning routine. The simple act of waking up, making breakfast, and listening to a podcast or some music on the daily commute are all small things that help focus your mind and prepare you for the day.
By contrast, the convenience of studying from home means everyday routines can easily slip away from you. Rather than attempting to start studying whenever you wake up, set yourself a time to start working and aim to get up one hour before that time. Use this timeslot to do your morning routine—get dressed, have something to eat, listen to some music, or read for a few minutes—as you would if you were going out to study. Starting the day with a bit of free time will help you feel more relaxed, energized, and focused when you begin working.
Stay on top of time zones
Online classes are a great resource for remote learning and can help to build structure into your day. Watching them live is important in order to feel the benefits of interactive lessons, as well as for engaging in discussions with your peers from all over the world.
That said, it’s impossible to make the times convenient for all students who are in so many different time zones. Although it can be tempting to start the day whenever classes begin, depending on where you are this may not be the most productive option. If your classes are later in the day, aim to start studying earlier and block them into your day. You’ll probably find that they help to vary your schedule and refresh your concentration. Alternatively, if your class is early you can use them as a starting point for the rest of your study day.
Stay in the loop with virtual study sessions
While 19% of remote employees report loneliness as their biggest challenge, remote studying doesn’t have to be solitary. Invite your peers to form study groups for the courses you’re taking together. This is a great way to get some structure into your weekly schedule, while also making things that little bit more social. Sharing perspectives with your peers is sure to broaden your knowledge and add some vibrancy to your study plan, so don’t hesitate to reach out to your student community.
Put the breaks on
A misconception about remote studying is that it automatically gives way to more mindful working habits. In reality, without the prompt of a break between classes or a coffee with a friend, it can be easy to forget to take regular breaks. To maximize efficiency at home, you should ensure you’re blocking out breaks in your daily study schedule.
One way to this is using the Pomodoro method, which breaks down your study day into 90 minute blocks with 30 minute breaks following each. This way of working is optimized to align with our ultradian rhythms, which determine natural peaks and troughs in energy levels that we feel throughout the day. To put it into practice, a variety of desktop timers are available to help monitor your sessions and break up your study.
Whichever way you implement them, breaks are a necessary part of efficient work. In conjunction with a defined start and end time, planning structured breaks will help to form a clear schedule that balances study and rest.
In a remote setup, scheduling your time is the key to staying efficient and keeping a cap on stress. Implemented correctly, you’ll find a routine that both improves your study habits and leaves you with more free time to enjoy.