Structuring or managing your workload when studying at home can sometimes feel challenging. It’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole of distractions which is why time-management is a crucial skill to learn. To help you stay on your A-game, we’ve compiled some research-based strategies for keeping organised.
By Elena Carruthers. Published 21 November 2022. Last updated 11 January 2023.
First things first, envision your day and its top priorities. An easy way to visualise this is to make a to-do list and colour co-ordinate by order of priority. For example, particularly urgent tasks would be written or highlighted in red, and lesser tasks in green.
Visualising tasks helps you to establish a clear starting point and de-clutter your mind. For a more fun approach, you might try brainstorming, or writing your tasks on various stick-it notes – whatever helps you to feel the most motivated and organised.
Once you have established your starting point and top priorities for the day, you can move onto the ‘how’. Looking at your to-do list, start to put the different tasks into action. For example, if you have an upcoming exam, reserve an hour to go through a past paper under exam-style conditions. Next on your to-do list might be some work for a group project, in which case you might arrange a call or meeting with your course mates.
The strategy you take depends on what works best for your learning style, as well as the task at hand. The most important thing is to have a clear notion of how you are going to achieve your daily tasks. If you are not sure of the best strategies, experiment with a few different ones until you’ve found your feet.
Dive into your digital toolbox
When working from home, you have many tools at your disposal. Imagine yourself as a manual worker, and technology as your digital toolbox, offering an endless stream of tools and resources to support with your learning.
If you are learning online, you will probably be aware of the catalogue of apps and project-management tools that are available to help you manage your schedule in the cyber-space. Some popular scheduling and time-management apps include Rescue Time, Remember the Milk, and Focus Keeper.
Knowing when you work best
Being aware of when you are most alert and productive will help you shape the course of your day. It’s okay not to be a morning person and start off with the most strenuous tasks. If you are someone that feels active later in the day, begin with a simple task such as reading or planning your day. For morning birds, flip this and ensure to make the most out of your mornings.
Importantly, reconnect with the outside world by taking lunch and engaging with something completely different – such as music, sport, nature, or a hobby. Your brain will appreciate the change from computer or textbook and feel restored when you return to it.
Say no and delegate
Being confident that you can say ‘no’ and delegate actions to fellow team-mates, whether in a society, club or study-group can be a powerful but tricky habit to get into. Only do the things which you feel you can do without it jeopardising your learning.
Setting goals is a proven way of achieving them. They can also be benchmarks of failure if you don’t reach them at the first attempt in the way you expected. We suggest setting small, manageable, realisable goals in the short term as steps that can lead to larger milestone goals in the future. But don’t shy away from having some ‘blue-sky’ life goals stuck to boards, doors and walls so that you can turn to them when in need of motivation and inspiration.
If you are one of our students and concerned about your wellbeing while studying at home or would like more advice about studying from home, you can talk to our Wellbeing Service.