Tips for studying online

Studying completely online is a different challenge to attending classes in person. If it’s your first time studying in a fully online mode, the following tips will help you to stay on track and succeed.

1. Add structure – and keep yourself to it

One important tool for successful online study is to make sure your day has a structure. The easiest way to do this is to make a schedule each day, breaking down tasks into small, achievable goals. For example, you might have:

  • 9.00am – 10.00am: Read and note one article
  • 10.00am – 11.30am: Write 500 words of essay
  • 11.30am – 12.00pm: Tutorial participation
  • 12.00pm – 12.30pm: Lunch

And so on. Rather than spending a long time just on one task, splitting your schedule into many smaller tasks will help you increase your feelings of accomplishment throughout the day. When creating a structure, two things are important: (1) making sure you include breaks, and (2) keeping yourself to your schedule.


2. Get rid of distractions

When you’re studying online, it’s easy to get distracted – whether by videos, games, or other websites. Getting rid of distractions is easier said than done, and different techniques to help focus will work for different people.

Here are some ideas for staying on task:

  • Put your phone on the other side of the room, turn it off, or put it in airplane mode. Many phones also have a ‘do not disturb’ mode, which will still allow important communications, but block social media notifications.
  • Use techniques such as Pomodoro that use your brain’s natural attention span to structure your study.
  • Use noise-cancelling headphones and listen to ambient music (or classical music, or rock music – anything that helps you concentrate, as different things work for different people).
  • If you live with other people, let them know when you’re studying or put a sign on your door so they don’t disturb you.

Click here to see more tips from current students about how to avoid distractions and stay on task.


3. Stuck? Get up and move!

If you find yourself staring at the screen and not accomplishing anything, stand up out of your chair and move around. This can be some light exercise, cleaning up, or just a short stroll.

By getting up and moving, you can break unproductive cycles, and will return to your computer more focused and ready to work.


4. Be kind to yourself

As mentioned above, it’s important to stick to your schedule – and that includes breaks. Strange as it may sound, when you take a break and give your brain a rest, you are actually helping yourself study more effectively. This includes making sure you finish study at the time allocated in your schedule – so whenever you are scheduled to finish, make sure the books close at that time.

Being kind to yourself also means that it’s important to take care of your health by eating a good and balanced diet, and making sure you’re getting enough exercise.


5. Remember that you’re not alone

Just because you’re studying online doesn’t mean that you’re alone. If you’re experiencing challenges with online study and feeling like you aren’t achieving your best, the University’s support services are ready to help.


More information

See the Wellbeing Hub for more advice on successful study strategies.


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