Studying at home, whether you are 15 or 50, can be a fantastic opportunity. But it must be done and approached the right way.
You might think it’s chance to swan around in your pyjamas and fluffy slippers, sipping coffee whenever you want. Obviously that should not be the case. However, it’s true to say that the reality of attempting to produce work of a solid quality, with all the incipient domestic distractions of the TV, kitchen, or the like, can be a difficult one to adjust to.
Understanding our various physical, psychological and social needs can ensure that whilst studying from home, we maximise our time. Be it as a regular part of our working lives or through an unexpected college closure, we must utilise these strategies to keep our intellectual output high.
Don’t change your alarms. Get up, get dressed, and sit down at the computer at all the usual times. When you keep to your usual routine your brain will automatically put itself in production mode. It will make efforts to generate its usual, expected level of output. Similarly, stick to your set study hours. Maintain a grip on your temptation to do extra bits at other times. This ensures you are less likely to become stressed and fatigued from broken or hazy boundaries.
When we study at home there is the danger of missing out on a lot of important physical activity. Einstein constantly referred to the ‘work’ that the mind does when our bodies are otherwise engaged in physical activities. If we miss out on exercise we risk a negative impact on both our physical and mental health. Therefore make sure you create some time and space to move when working from home. Take part in an online exercise class, do some yoga, follow a dvd – just make sure you move.
Set aside a space that is solely for work. The size of the space is unimportant – but large enough for a computer and a coffee cup! This will encourage you to separate your life tasks when you are living in a small space. It will create a visual cue to both you and any friends or family to give you protected time. This will prevent being constantly disturbed.
The temptation to sit around in pyjamas might be strong but it sends all of the wrong messages. By wearing your usual outdoor or smart clothes, you are sending yourself and others the message that this time is for work, and is precious. Sitting down to work in smart clothes is much more likely to engender drive and enthusiasm than the those pyjamas, too.
The mindset needed for productive studying at home is focused around giving the right visual and psychological cues. Providing containment for producing great work in a space that is more often used for socialising will ensure that neither aspect of life will suffer. It could even mean some interesting thoughts and directions come out of the opportunity in the future.
Whatever your reason for studying at home, utilise all the creativity at your disposal and ensure that it is a productive learning experience.