An increasing number of students have moved to online classes in recent years, and have had to adjust to the process of doing school from home.
I am also a student, and I’ve had to actively adjust to the online learning process. If you’re finding yourself struggling to keep up in class, stay productive and organized, or maintain health, you’re in the right place.
This post will be the most extensive, complete, and ultimate guide to studying from home, and you’ll learn how to effectively survive and thrive in online learning. Let’s get straight into it!
Supplies You Need
There are many tools out there that can help you survive online classes. Some of them, I consider essential, while others are simply a bonus.
- Stable wifi connection
To successfully attend your online classes, you need a stable wifi connection. However, WIFI issues are very common and you shouldn’t fret too much if your connection is not ideal.
- Working computer
Like stable wifi, a working computer is also something you cannot attend your classes without. If your computer is old, slow, glitchy, etc, consider getting a new one. The HP Chromebook is relatively inexpensive and a popular choice among students.
- Google Keep
Google Keep is a great way to organize important links, dates, and lists, and it’s free to use if you have a Gmail account (also free to create). I use it to keep track of all the Zoom links for my courses.
Whether you use a digital or physical one, a calendar is essential to help you keep track of important dates. I recommend putting a calendar on your desk in addition to using a digital one like Google Calendar.
In my experience, physical planners are the best way to stay organized, keep track of important dates, write to-do lists, set goals, and make plans (all in one!). I love the iFocus Productivity Notebook, as it is made specifically for productivity!
Although school is online, traditional stationery still comes in incredibly helpful. Especially when taking notes or making plans, I find that color-coding with my Mildliner highlighters is very useful.
- Blue-light glasses
I’ve been relying on my blue light-blocking glasses every single day during online classes, and I’m so glad I do. They prevent migraines and protect your eyes from the constant harmful radiation of your computer, and are what I consider essentials for online students.
- Water bottle
It’s very important to stay healthy while stuck at home, and hydration is a big part of that. Get a reusable water bottle now and stay hydrated at home!
- Wall whiteboard
A hanging wall whiteboard is a great place to write down quick reminders, to-do lists, and keep track of papers (you can stick them on with a magnet). I use mine very often and find it helpful to track my daily progress.
- Noise-canceling headphones
If your home environment is busy and loud, you won’t be able to focus as easily on your schoolwork. Instead of driving everyone out of your house, however, I recommend investing in some durable noise-canceling headphones. These will last you well into the future and will come in handy in many cases (trust me).
- Laptop stand
I often found myself sitting like a shrimp in front of my laptop, so I decided to get a laptop stand. It rises my computer so that it’s at eye level, which is definitely better and more comfortable for my back!
Maintaining Good Grades
If you find it difficult to maintain good grades during online classes, whether it’s because of personal reasons or else, here are some tips that will help you out.
Do not give up
When you’re not forced to physically walk to classrooms anymore, it’s easy to just “give up” and not even try to stay accountable for your learning and your time.
But going to class is the only way to stay connected with your friends and get to know your teacher, and– more importantly– interact with them. Interaction is crucial, especially during times of isolation. Not to mention that your professors are there to help you, and are likely more helpful than a plain textbook!
Similarly, if you have recorded lectures instead of real-time classes, watch them and pay attention! Everything you learn is for your own benefit, so take advantage of what you have!
Taking notes is one of the most effective ways to learn and retain information. Whether you’re attending a Zoom class, watching a recorded lecture, or reading the textbook, make sure to take some notes!
But there are right and wrong ways to take notes. You should always have a plan before taking notes, and you must keep that plan in mind while taking notes. You can formulate this plan by following your syllabus or previewing your textbook to find the key sections you’ll be learning as well as important terms you should define.
With practice, you’ll be able to pick out only the relevant information and form connections quickly on your paper. If you’d like to learn the exact note-taking process I swear by, check out this post:
Just as you would ask questions in a real classroom, you should actively engage and ask questions in an online environment!
Asking questions is one of the most powerful ways to learn all the details of a certain subject, and I highly suggest taking advantage of your ability to ask questions when you’re in a live class.
There are many people you can go to with your questions:
- Your classmates
- Your teacher/professors
- Your friends
- Google/the Internet
So don’t be shy, ask your questions!
Use outside resources
Your professor and your textbook are not the only resources you’re allowed to use. Do not limit yourself, as there is so much information out there (on the Internet) that will help you expand your knowledge and understanding of almost any subject.
When you have an informational question, the first place you should go to is Google (or any other search engine). Most of the time, you will find an answer online.
When you want to learn something entirely new or find some study guides on a subject (aka when you don’t have a specific question in mind), try giving it a search. There are many online programs and websites that have entire curriculums available for free, and they’re all just a Google search away.
Here are some of my favorite online resources:
- YouTube (great science and math explanations)
- Wikipedia (very detailed historical/current events)
- Britannica (online encyclopedia, great for historical events/people)
- Questia (very large collection of titles)
- Stack Overflow (online community for coding)
As simple as this sounds, many have trouble doing this while studying from home. Procrastination will only lead to the piling up of more work, which will inevitably mean lower quality of work as you struggle to complete them on time.
To avoid this, you must tackle the problem from its root and learn to manage your time and build habits to become productive. These next tips will help you with exactly that.
Just as I mentioned in one of my previous posts, 23 Easy Habits That Will Skyrocket Your Productivity, planning ahead is crucial to a productive day, week, study session, you name it.
Every night (or at least every weekend), take at least 20 minutes to create a plan for the following day or week. Make sure to be detailed enough so you know what you should be doing at most times according to your plan.
I suggest using a dedicated planner to plan out your days, weeks, and months. I always find it most effective to physically write down and list out my plans, and you should try it out!
This Ultimate 3-in-1 Student Planner is made by yours truly, and it includes many planning spreads, as well as multiple trackers and templates to keep yourself organized and productive.
The most obvious list you should create is a to-do list. Every day, I write out a to-do list that includes my homework, steps to complete projects, daily tasks, habits I’m trying to build, etc. This helps me stay organized and make sure that I don’t forget to do something important.
However, there’s another type of list you should try: a not-to-do list. This list is exactly as it sounds: list out things you must not do throughout the day or while you’re focusing on an important task.
A not-to-do list will help you avoid distractions while studying from home, as well as break bad habits that are preventing productivity. Try it out!
Keep a distraction list
I recently discovered what a distraction list and how it works, and it works wonders!
Whenever you plan on focusing for a long period of time (over 1 hour), keep a notebook or a piece of paper handy. This will become your distraction list while you work.
Whenever you have a fleeting thought or sudden memory of something relatively important but not urgent (like the fact that you need to email back a certain teacher), quickly jot it down on the notebook then get back to work.
Instead of breaking your concentration to go off that tangent (even if it’s important), you can focus on your task until it’s completed, and then go back to the thing that came up. This ensures maximum efficiency of the task at hand while also making sure you don’t overlook anything.
Building habits and routines (and sticking with them) is one of the hardest things to do when you’re trying to become productive. Consistency can be a struggle for many students, as distractions and laziness just seem to be unbeatable (trust me, I feel you!).
But there is a process you can follow to ensure successful habit-building. I provide the detailed 8-step process in my Complete Habit-Building Workbook (made by yours truly), as well as habit tracker templates and habit ideas.
The most important takeaway that I’ve learned whilst building habits is that it takes time and energy. Oftentimes, you have to force yourself to do something before it starts becoming natural, and that’s what you have to keep doing until it becomes a habit.
Of course, an organized system, rewards, trackers, and others’ help can definitely make the process easier. Learn more by checking out my Workbook!
Setting goals is an extremely crucial step in organizing your life and becoming productive. They give you a sense of purpose (even if it’s temporary) and help you identify steps to take in your life. Here’s an example of a smart goal:
- At the end of senior year of high school, I will have at least a 3.7 GPA. I will achieve this by receiving an A in at least 18 of my classes.
This is a smart goal because it has a deadline (end of high school), a quantitative goal (3.7 GPA), and a method (getting an A in 18 classes). I can specify this goal even further by including short-term goals (certain grades by a certain semester) and specific methods of studying I will perform.
Get off your phone
A smartphone is one of the most distracting items a student can have while studying from home. Luckily, you don’t need to get rid of it completely to become focused and productive.
Breaking your phone addiction will increase your productivity and ability to focus during online classes. But how exactly do you do that? Follow this 5-step process:
- Avoid what doesn’t work. There is no need to set a confusing password or delete all your social media.
- Identify and delete toxic apps. Just like some relationships, some apps will make you feel down along with making you unproductive.
- Identify and archive useless apps. No need to delete these apps, but you can hide it to avoid the urge to visit it every once in a while.
- Turn off notifications. Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, TikTok… turn those social media notifications off!
- Download helpful apps like Forest or Flora, Todoist, and Notion.
You can read more and learn the exact details to this process in this post: 5 Simple Steps To Break Your Phone Addiction.
As a student, organization is yet another essential skill to boost productivity and ensure success while studying from home. Here are a few tips to help you instantly become more organized!
Many people feel sudden “bursts” of motivation and use that energy to have a sudden organization spree. While that works sometimes, it’s not the best way to use your time and doesn’t guarantee the best results.
Instead, dedicate blocks of time you’ll use to organize, whether it’s organizing your physical space or organizing your future plans. For example, I like to spend at least 20 minutes every Sunday to make a plan for the following week. Try it out!
Write things down
Your memory will fail you sometimes, but a trusty pencil and a piece of paper will not. Therefore, truly organized students don’t keep everything in their heads. They use notebooks, planners, sticky notes, and more.
And this is what I recommend you do, as well! Whenever you want to create a to-do list, write it down on a piece of paper or a planner. And of course, your weekly plans, important dates, daily schedules… they can all go in a planner or an organizer.
Prioritize and delegate
It can be easy to feel overwhelmed when you face a large to-do list. But instead of being intimidated and avoiding it (and procrastinating until it’s way too late), learn to prioritize tasks and tackle them one by one.
My go-to method of prioritizing is by using the Eisenhower Matrix. I explained all about how it works in this post: 7 Powerful Habits Of Highly Productive Students. You can use this matrix for every task in your todo list to figure out what to do first, what to do later, and what not to do.
You can download a free copy of this matrix in my Freebie Library.
Batch and stack
You should always have a plan of action when tackling your to-do list. Other than using the Eisenhower Matrix to prioritize and remove tasks, also try batching tasks! This is when you put similar tasks (ones that relate to one another or 1 topic) together and dedicate 1 chunk of time to work on them all.
You can also try stacking tasks, which is where you interconnect the things on your to-do list so that one goes into another; this method is a great way to get a lot of things done while not feeling burned out.
Organize your space
Though an organized space may not instantly clear your mind and organize your life, it sure can help! Decluttering your room and your workspace is very effective in calming your mind and making it easier to plan and execute more tasks.
Therefore, take a few hours to organize your space. I suggest starting with your desk (or wherever you focus and work the most). I have an entire post dedicated to this, and you can check it out here:
Digital organization is just as important as physical organization.
Whether it’s your digital calendar, a digital notebook full of your notes, or an online planner system, keep it organized! This will make sure you can find important things easily as well as help you clear your mind while working online.
If you’re not sure where to start in your digital organization, here are a few tips:
- Create folders for your bookmarks (you can categorize by class, by purpose, etc).
- Create folders for your digital files (or Google Drive items).
- Color-code your digital calendar and make use of repeated events.
- Keep your computer desktop simple and organize files into folders.
- Clear out your digital downloads and desktop trash once in a while.
YOU’LL LOVE THIS POST: 10 Brilliant Habits To Organize Your Entire Life
Last but not least, you can’t forget about your own health! As important as school is, your body and your health still comes on top. Here are a couple of tips to make sure you’re staying healthy while studying from home!
Many students have an unhealthy balance between work and rest yet don’t realize it. I’ve noticed that this unhealthy balance can cause many problems, such as procrastination, inability to concentrate, anxiety, and much more.
One of the easiest ways to maintain a healthy balance is to know yourself and your “peak” times. Whatever time in the day you feel most productive, use that time to work. Whenever you know you simply can’t focus, rest. Never force yourself to do work while your body refuses, as it’ll only cause burnout and frustration.
Don’t forget your daily habits to stay fit and healthy, especially after a long day in front of your desk. Here are some healthy habits you should be building and following:
- Get up from your chair and stretch every hour or two.
- Go outside and take a walk every day.
- Drink enough water and always eat breakfast.
- Exercise 2-3 times a week.
- Get enough sleep (at least 8 hours).
Stress is becoming more and more prominent in the modern student population. If you’re the type of student to feel constant stress and anxiety (even when you’re not sure why), it’s time to learn how to manage your stress.
One of the most important and effective ways to prevent and manage stress is to take care of your body; exercising, eating well, and sleeping well all contribute to a healthy mind along with a healthy body.
Other ways to temporarily relieve stress include deep breathing (try the 4-7-8 breathing pattern!), taking a walk outside, talking with a friend or family member, and journaling. Always remember that it’s okay to feel stressed, but you shouldn’t ignore or suppress it. Instead, try out different ways to relieve it!
It is always okay to have self-care days once in a while to take care of your mind and body. Self-care days should be always part of your monthly plan.
I suggest grabbing your planner and choosing a calm Saturday or Sunday (when you’re not busy and not stressed about an upcoming exam of any kind), then making a schedule for your self-care activities.
If you’re not sure what to do during a self-care day, here are some ideas (in chronological order):
- Watch the sunrise (or sleep in!).
- Make breakfast and eat it without doing anything else.
- Take time to do something you like.
- Listen to music, dance, meditate, read…
- Make and eat lunch.
- Call and chat with a friend or family member.
- Exercise or take a walk outside.
- Take a long bath.
- Perform an elaborate skincare routine.
- Sleep early.
I hope this guide was helpful to you! Studying from home can be a challenge, but with these tips, I hope it becomes easier for you! What do you find most challenging about studying/working from home? Comment down below!
If you’re looking for more posts like this, check these out:
- 10 Essential Things To Bring To Every Study Session
- Ultimate 5 Day Guide To Become Insanely Productive
- 23 Easy Habits That Will Skyrocket Your Productivity