With many universities continuing with a blended learning approach moving into 2022 and lots of exams taking place online, it can be difficult to stay motivated and adjust to this new approach. In a recent survey carried out by NASFAA, it was found that 76% of undergraduates and 56% of graduate and professional students were noticing that low motivation was becoming a larger obstacle to online learning. To help you out, we've put together some tips on staying motivated and looking after your wellbeing whilst working mainly from home.
Decluttering your workspace
Whether you are working at a desk in your bedroom, or in the library, it can help to keep your space as de-cluttered as possible. Keep work from different modules separated from each other in a way that you understand, and try to limit distractions around you, such as your phone. Sometimes, when working from home, it can be hard to completely eliminate, as you have family or friends sharing the space. It's good to understand that these distractions may happen and take breaks where needed, but ensure that you can get back to your work when possible and not lose concentration completely. If you are mainly working from a PC, then it can be really useful to make sure that your digital space is not cluttered too! Make different folders for each module and even for each topic/sub-topic, whatever makes the most sense for you to look back over when revising for your exams.
If you can, take a break to go outside. Whether you go for a walk or sit in a park/garden for a while, getting outside can help with relaxation and even improve your mood through the release of chemicals in your brain called endorphins. Taking breaks from work and not thinking about what you have to do next/how long you have to do it is really important when trying to reduce stress and anxiety surrounding exams and revision. If you are working from home, it may help to meet up with some friends for a walk/walk with family members to talk about things that are not exam related and make the most of your breaks. You could also work outside if this is a possibility. It can take you out of your usual work environment and provide a change of scenery which can give you more motivation and sometimes provide fewer distractions than your normal work environment.
Manage your Workload
It may seem like you have too much work to get through in the amount of time you have, but when you split it up into smaller, more manageable amounts, it can seem much less daunting! It is important to not give yourself too much work to do in a day, as this can have the opposite effect and can be de-motivating if you do not manage to get through goals that you have set for yourself. It is, therefore, crucial to set realistic goals for yourself. Splitting your tasks into more manageable workloads can be more motivating as you are more likely to hit goals set and have time for breaks. Including breaks between your revision/exams is also vital, as sitting in one space doing work for hours can lead to mental fatigue and can affect your performance.
Check-in with friends and peers
If you and your course peers are mostly working from home, you may be working from lots of different places and it might not be possible to meet up. It is still important that you communicate with friends/peers over video calls or conference calls to catch up, whether you are discussing revision, helping each other with tasks or just checking up on one another.
Create a Schedule
Create a daily schedule which includes breaks, a set time to start and finish work every day, and an estimate on how long you want to spend on each task. If you are revising for exams and working at home, this can make creating a schedule more difficult as you might have to fit this around other commitments or other people in your home. Try to establish ‘working hours’ e.g. 9am – 5pm in which you can work through your tasks, ensure you set time for breaks and understand that there may be different distractions throughout the day, you can always add some extra time at the end of the day if that suits you! It can also be helpful to set the same time to wake-up each day, when working/revising from home it can be easy to spend an extra few minutes in bed or even work from your bed, however, setting yourself a time to wake up, have breakfast and have some time to yourself can help motivate you for the rest of the day.
Understanding How to Study
There are thought to be 7 different learning styles: visual, kinaesthetic, aural, social, solitary, verbal, and logical. Although it was once assumed that individuals fit best into one of these learning styles, it is now thought that a variety of these learning methods works best and can improve how well people retain information. Visual learning is using images and colours to retain information using things such as mind-maps, colour-coded text, and using pictures/drawings. Aural and Auditory learning includes listening to information to help remember it, this may include rewatching lectures or recording yourself reading through revision notes and listening to them back. Social learning can be useful for everyone as it includes participating in study groups and quizzing each other, or just helping each other fill in gaps of knowledge. Social learning can also be useful as you are explaining information to others, in your own words, which isn’t only helping them but also helping you retain the information.
Ask for Help
Even if you have not had much face-to-face contact with your lecturers/tutors recently, they are still there to help if you need it. If you don’t understand a topic or a concept, ask your lecturer to go over the information again or explain it in a different way to ensure you understand it fully. It is important that you understand as you go through your learning, as when it comes to exams you may find it difficult to revise over certain topics that you didn’t fully understand. Another way to ask for help is by getting friends or family to explain something you have learned, they will be able to ask you questions and start a conversation about the topic you are teaching them, which can help you remember it well.
Connecting an effective day of studying with a reward gives you a mental break and also motivates you to keep studying and look forward to your reward. At the end of a day of studying you might want to reward yourself by watching an episode of a show you enjoy, reading a novel, or spending time with friends. Rewarding yourself isn’t only important for staying motivated, but it is also important for your well-being and self-care.
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