Advice for distance learning
Currently, most of us spend more time at home than we are used to. We study at home, we work at home, maybe we are sick or quarantined at home, all to reduce the risk of spread of infection. One challenge in adjusting to distance learning at home is that it can affect the structure and routines we have had before. Here is advice for those who are studying at home, whether it is planned distance studies or ordered distance studies, due to the coronavirus.
TO STUDY AT HOME
Create a workplace at home
As a student, it is common to live in small spaces where it becomes especially important to consider where and how you sit when you study. In any case, try to have a place just for study. It could be at the end of the kitchen table, for example. If possible, avoid sitting in bed and try to have a good posture.
If there are other people at home
If you live together with others who work or study at home, it is a good idea to sit down and talk about the “rules” or circumstances. Who should work where? Can you both work at the same time or do you need to take turns not to disturb each other? If you live with others who do not work or study, you need to be clear about what you need to a have a functioning study setting.
When the working day is over
When the day is over, it is good to put away your computer, books, notes, etc. It may be enough to stuff them in a bag or put them on a chair that you slide under the table. Do not let everything flow together just because you do not physically move between different places. Like the concept “out of sight, out of mind” this will help to mentally shift into the time for your personal life and out of work.
CREATE PROCEDURES TO KEEP FOCUS
It can be difficult to distinguish between time for study and time for leisure, and now it can be more difficult than ever. Therefore, a general advice is to try to maintain or create good routines for study time, breaks, eating and sleeping times, and exercise. Try to make your day as normal as possible.
Get up the time you usually do. Have breakfast, put on clothes you can go out in. Start the day with a walk or bike tour, as if you were going to the library or university. Decide the time you should study and stick to them.
Create weekly schedules and to-do lists
Make a weekly schedule and a to-do list for each day. Divide the tasks into smaller sub-goals to be able to frequently tick off something from your list. When you pass an intermediate goal, the brain receives positive feedback that encourages you to move on to the next task.
To make it easy to get started, always make your first intermediate goal small and simple. Do one thing at a time and do not try to multi-task. Include breaks and time for lunch in your schedule.
HELP YOUR CONCENTRATION AND ELIMINATE DISTRACTIONS
When there is a crisis going on, it can be more difficult than usual to concentrate. It is even more important to turn off things that can interfere or distract you. Identify any distractions and accept that you need to block or completely put them away during your study sessions.
- Put away the cell phone or have it on silent or “do not disturb” mode.
- Shut down programs on your computer that you do not need.
- If there are other people at home - divide the area so that you have your own workplace. Agree, in advance, when to pause and when not to disturb each other.
- Use web tools or apps to avoid distractions. There are various blocking tools for web pages and timer apps that help you divide your work during the day.
FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS
It is important that you attend lectures and seminars. That’s how you will have the opportunity to check that you are devoting yourself to the right things and the opportunity to ask questions about your studies.
KEEP CONTACT WITH OTHERS
You need workmates even if you work from home. Meet your classmates online - via video calls and chat, for example.
Try to study by having video calls with webcam and let the classmates see that you are working. You can also discuss the content of the lectures and course literature or give each other feedback on texts.
Make sure you take care of yourself during this social isolation and connect with people in ways that are possible. Chat with classmates. Arrange for coffee breaks on Zoom. Call a friend.
REMEMBER RECOVERY AND TAKE BREAKS
Take a break!
Make sure you get enough time for recovery both by taking short breaks during the day and by scheduling longer breaks for lunch.
For example, set an alarm for 20-40 minutes, depending on what works best for you. Read and work without looking at anything else during this session. Take a short break, and then do another session. A number of such study sessions form a working day.
Take time for significant rest, for example, in the evenings and weekends.
Move and get some exercise every day, preferably in the middle of the day. In this way you maintain your fitness and get daylight to help you stay alert. It is easy to accidentally sit for long periods in uncomfortable positions when working at home. Make sure that you take a smaller break every hour and move around a bit.
There is a lot that is uncertain right now and it is natural to feel anxious and worried. Concerns take energy, so do not put your energy on unnecessary things. Concentrate on the “here and now” and do what is needed right now. You can keep a diary or journal to manage your emotions and keep your motivation up. If you are very worried, it may be good not to watch too much news. Instead, try to distract yourself and get positive emotions from pleasant things. For example, read a book, play a game, or watch a movie. Or perhaps it would help to talk with someone about your feelings and the situation.
When you have finished your study-week, remember to take time off during the weekend as to reward and to rejuvenate yourself, for example by doing something you think is nice!