It sounds an ideal solution – studying at home whilst still working, ferrying the kids to school and after school activities, cooking tea, the shopping… the list goes on.
The truth is, we are all busy people and it can seem like there is little or no capacity for extra commitments such as studying. But many people have begun successfully studying at home and you can too.
There does need to be a dose of realism however, and that means understanding that in order for your home learning to be a success, there needs to be a few changes.
Here are five tips that our students tell us work and have been contributing factors in successfully studying from home.
Top of the list are all the distractions that you face.
Think of a household chore you hate doing – unblocking the hair trap in the shower, vacuuming, cleaning the drains etc. – and now imagine you have a choice: write the tutor-mark assignment for the module you have just studied or unblock the drains. Which would you choose?
Surprisingly, you would rather do anything, like clean drains, than sit at your laptop or PC typing out your assignment!
Distractions are everywhere. Despite our best intentions, they can and do get the better of us. But what do our students suggest?
Overwhelmingly, the answer was to identify what potential distractions there are, that could prevent you from completing your home learning course.
They are different for everyone but a few of our students mentioned: switching off mobile phones and not checking emails when working online. They also talked about how limited time can be the driving force behind getting work completed.
It has a habit of slipping away with us or, when we are doing something we least enjoy – like sitting in an exam – the minute hand seems to tick very slowly.
But you can use it to your advantage when studying at home. There is one tool that may be of help to you: a stopwatch. Some people are happy to read, study, write and so on for hours on end but others find this unappealing. They use a stopwatch or timer.
Try this: set 20 minutes on a timer – use your phone or a kitchen timer – aim to get as much done in that time as you can. Take a break for five minutes once the time has elapsed and then start again for another 20 minutes.
Many people find this a great way of getting the most from their study time, as well as a fantastic study habit that helps them in the future.
Starting something new and as important as furthering your skill set and education requires support. And this can come from various sources;
- Family – work out a schedule or a timetable for when you study, uninterrupted and make a rule that unless it is a real emergency, you are left to work during this time.
- Friends – a great source of enthusiasm and support, friends can provide a load of support from kind, supportive words to ‘favours’, such as looking after the kids for an hour or so etc.
- Other students – although you may prefer to study and learn in the comfort of your own home, there is nothing like the support of other students when it comes to study and how difficult it can be sometimes.
For anyone considering home learning, this fourth tip also comes direct from our students. You must have space for your work too.
You may enjoy reading on the sofa, making notes on course materials and so on, but there does come a time when you need to have space to complete your work. This means sitting at the kitchen table, or investing a desk and a lamp for late night essays.
Your studies are important; give it the space that it deserves.
#5 Commitment and Determination
It takes time and determination, as well as establishing a routine to be able to commit to your course when studying at home.
This means ‘making’ time and space to work. It can also means forgoing some things, such as instead of the latest best seller, you read a text book or academic journals instead.
But the commitment, the dogged determination and the struggle – there will be moments of struggle, as well as great triumph – will result in success and an enormous feeling of achievement.