I hope everyone is well during this very strange time. I don’t know about you guys, but I found the start of lockdown a serious struggle to revise and study. My motivation was very low and with all the uncertainty around the return to normality, it took a while to get back into the swing of things. Unfortunately I think it is increasingly looking like lockdown is going continue for a while with online lectures and working from home being a part of it.
Over the course of the last 8 months (with a bit of a summer break post online exams in the middle), I like to think that my studying has improved a little bit. So today I have got 14 tips to get you through lockdown studying.
Disclaimer: I definitely do not stick to all of these tips all the time, and some days are definitely better than others!
1. If you are working from home all day, make sure to get dressed out of your PJ’s. This to me was the single best bit of advice I was given by a family member who has worked from home for years. Getting dressed for the day as if your leaving the house and out of your PJ’s helps your brain switch on that it is work time.
2. Organise your study space the night before.
Tidy space= tidy mind.
3. Try to make a timetable to create some kind of structure to your days.
Without in-person lectures to attend at the start of lockdown, I found myself unmotivated to get up and start self directed work. However I made a schedule with a regular wake up time and time to finish work, and this helped bring some normality and structure to my day.
4. Write down the activities which are non-negotiable for you to miss out on a daily basis and schedule these into your daily timetable.
This is obviously personal and could be spending time with family or watching your favourite TV show for an hour. Make time for these as in the long run it will help you not to burn out!
5. Find the time to speak to friends and family regularly.
It’s so important to stay connected and reach out to love one’s during this unsettling time, not only for yourself but also for them!
6. Find some time to get outside or do some movement on a daily basis.
Some examples of things I like to do to achieve this, is to walk from the train station rather than getting the bus, or try to eat lunch outside (if it’s not pouring with rain!). I also have loved YouTube classes on yoga or home workouts
7. Try to have one full day off from studying each week.
I used to always feel pressured to work every day, but over lockdown I tried to do this and it has made such a difference for me. I feel less burnt out and enjoy the time I have off as I feel I deserve it after being more productive when I am working.
8. Make a To Do list at the start of each day of the jobs/lectures/studying that you need to do.
I like to split these into big projects (i.e things that have longer time limit for e.g an SSCT project), work (i.e lectures I need to listen to or 20 passmed questions), quick jobs (i.e emails I need to reply to) or personal (i.e things I need to do within the house such as laundry). There is nothing more satisfying than ticking things off a list!
9. Do your studying in blocks.
Try the pomodoro method, if you’re really struggling one method is to study for 25 minutes with a 5 minute break. Or if you are feeling more productive, do it for 50 minutes then with 10 minutes break. Then if you have a full day of studying, after 6 (shorter) or 3 (longer) sessions have a longer break for lunch then repeat again in the afternoon. Before you know it, you’ve studied a solid 6 hours.
Please note this is not my usual study day, this is during revision time! I am lucky if I manage to get in an hour post placement!
10. Put your phone away when studying
The distraction of social media is real (for me it is endless puppy videos on Facebook that play on loops). I like the Forest App for your phone. You put a timer on the app and a little tree grows while you put your phone away. If you go on your phone the tree dies, honestly it really motivates me! It also lets you keep track of how long you have studied for. I also use the Self Control App on my laptop, to block distracting websites on a timer, like Facebook or Instagram.
11. Use Study with Me videos.
A lot of my friends laugh at me when they say I use these but they motivate me. These are people who film themselves studying and often with timers using the pomodoro method to do so. It gives some accountability and is sort of a similar vibe to a virtual library!
12. When doing online lectures- commit to them.
As easy as it is to turn off your camera and make your lunch or mute yourself and have a chat to your flatmates (and trust me I have done that many a time!), you are not getting the most out of the session.
Try and really focus on online lectures like you would normal self-directed studying/revision. Not only are you getting the most out of your fees but you’re also saving yourself time later when you have to go over it again.
13. If on placement, make the most of your time there.
Think of a goal for the day and go in specifically trying to complete that goal (I.e to complete a direct observed procedure). Make the most of patient contact, as we never know when we’re going into lockdown again!
14. Last but definitely not least, take it easy on yourself.
There is no doubt that we are living in extremely strange time. Check in with yourself often; if you start to feel burnt out, exhausted, or down, do take the foot off the pedal and reach out for help. Help is available, either with your personal tutor, course/placement organizer, or via external resources such as your GP, Samaritans or Mind Charity.
Some useful resources:
Forest App on phone
Self control App on computer
Yoga with Adriene on Youtube
Headspace App on phone for mindfulness and mediation
Ali Abdall How to study for exams evidence-based revision tips on Youtube
TheStrivetoFit or Gutsystudygirl Study With Me videos on Youtube
P Year Medical Student at St George's, University of London.
MediLearn Lecturer, previously seen in 'How to Survive T Year'.
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