It is increasingly important to know how to study at home. Online education is getting more and more real for adult learners. Besides tactics like smart reading, taking better notes, and improving your memory, there are two things even more important. Let's dive in and have a look at them.
How to study without going to college?
Studying at home can be very demanding. After a long day at work, you also need to study. Fortunately, online lectures are a very good option these days. They really cut back a lot of time on traveling to and from college.
Still… this is not an easy task. Watching lectures online by yourself is not the most motivating thing. You need something extra...
The most important thing you can do when you study at home is, implement the right habits. You can have all the study skills you like, without habits you will probably fail. The first habit to start is the habit of studying.
What habits are key in this? The first one is the habit of starting to study. This means for instance that every morning, you have 30 minutes of study time. Get out of bed earlier... and study.
Another habit is before you start studying, you decide what your goal is. Know your outcome. Do you want to use your study time to memorize information? Or do you simply read a few pages? Perhaps you take (detailed) notes from a chapter. Know your outcome!
Then… you take focused action to achieve that outcome
Remember that habits take time to form. They are not serving you immediately. The good thing is however that you can start implementing them right now.
One of the habits that helped me a lot is the habit of studying 5 pages per day, every day, no matter what.
How do I Study at home without getting distracted?
There are many distractions at home. Perhaps you have family members around you when you study. Phone or email messages may distract you. And of course, there are things like laundry, dinner, and other chores around your home that distract you.
The best way to reduce distractions when studying at home is understanding your distractions, and how long you can study without getting distracted. Knowing these two things will help you implement small changes that help you on a daily basis.
Once you know that, you can implement many smaller solutions. Think of things like a clean dedicated study room, airplane mode on your phone, noise-canceling headphones, or simply changing the time you study.
So… you have to know what distracts you.
Here is a straightforward approach to removing distractions.
1. Start Studying
The best way to find out what distracts you is by simply going to study. While studying, you write down all the things which distract you. Whatever it is… you write it down.
2. Figure out your study stamina
Next, figure out how long you are able to study without getting distracted. Is that 10 minutes, 20 minutes, or even longer?
I know that your focus also depends on the topic, the writing or presenting style, and many other things. Try to get an estimate.
3. Implement changes
Applied knowledge is power. Make sure you start implementing change in the way you study.
This basically means you use your list of distractions, and you start removing distractions.
For me, that meant that I added some music to remove either silence or distracting noises. I started listening to music from games I like (only music, no singing). Video game music is often created in such a way that it keeps you focused on your game. The same applies to using this music for studying, it keeps you engaged.
What is your list of things that distract you? What will you start changing in the way you study?
After you removed distractions, test yourself again. Are there fewer distractions this time? How long are you now able to study?
How to focus on studying at home?
Removing distractions is a great way to create more focus on studying. Especially when you start studying, start your session by removing distractions first. When you removed the external distractions, you are left with internal distractions. These reduce focus as well.
You can increase your focus when studying at home by silencing the voice in your head. Mental distractions are powerful. Reduce them by enjoying the topic you study, or by keeping your brain busy as much as possible. This reduces the chance of getting distracted.
Remember, every distraction starts inside your head. Why would it be that some people can study in a crowded room, and others even get distracted in an empty room? It has to do with what your brain tells you.
For example, I can sit in an empty room with white walls only and a sheet of paper in front of me. I can still get distracted from the wall, looking at the cracks in it, or the way it was painted. At the same time my stomach may tell me it is time to eat. Also, my nose is itching!!! If I want to be distracted from studying, there is always room for that.
Silence the voice in your head that is looking for distractions by doing this simple thing: Give your head more to do so it won’t be able to get distracted! How? Try to read faster, take notes while reading, use loud music to block your senses.
A wonderful way of getting more focus is by putting deadlines on your study sessions. When you normally start studying and do this until you don't feel like it anymore (really bad way of studying...), do this.
Give yourself 45 minutes to study. After that, no more studying. Still... you have to achieve your daily number of 5 or 10 pages. When you work this way, your brain will feel pressure to get this done.
Study at home effectively at home for long hours?
Long study sessions are not very effective. Don’t try to study long hours. Study smarter by doing many study sessions of for example 25 minutes each. After that, take a 5-minute break. The result of studying this way is better than studying for many hours at a time.
This way of working and studying is known as the Pomodoro method (video link).
I would not recommend you start studying for hours at a time. Also, don't do that when using the Pomodoro method. Keep it simple. As an adult learner, you probably have enough to do besides studying.
Start by studying for 30 minutes, perhaps one hour at a time. Don’t exhaust yourself. When you do that, you won’t be able to take new information in.
Studying effectively is a skill. And for this skill, you need to develop stamina. Compare this with long distance running. You don’t start running a marathon in your first week. Build things up. When you do that, you too are able to study longer.
If you have the time to study for long hours, feel free to do that. As long as your study results remain to be good!
A quick tip: study for two times one hour a day if you feel up to it. Do one hour in the morning, and one hour in the evening. See what works for you. I'm sure you will benefit from studying this way.
What if I can’t study at home?
Sometimes studying at home is not possible. This could be because:
- There are too many people around you
- You don’t have a room for studying
- You may not have a good enough computer for taking online classes
When studying at home is difficult, you may want to have a look at alternatives. You can go to a library. You might even study at work! Right after work, there may be a place where you can sit down with your books. Or… simply wake up earlier and study at home.
Studying at home is almost always possible. Simply change the time or the location. You might even start to study in your bed(room) or outside!
Remember... it is not about how long you study. Five minutes of focused studying can be more productive than 30 minutes of you staring at your books!
What to do next?
Studying at home can be challenging. By removing distractions and creating the right focus, you are able to make it work for you.
Remember that studying is a skill. By doing it more, you become better at it. Build up your study stamina over time. Start studying for 10, 20, or 30 minutes. There is no need to hurry.
You can use the Pomodoro technique to block time for study sessions.
Read more about other study skills and tactics on the website. Subscribe to the newsletter so I can share new ideas and content with you.