My name is Karena Valentine and I’m originally from Aberdeen. I’ve been studying online towards my MBA for the past 2 and a half years whilst living in Doha and now Houston. Throughout my studies I’ve been mummy to my son Jack (3) and welcomed Daisy (2) to the family mid-semester, showing just how flexible distance learning can be.
Apart from one week on campus in 2019, my studies have been completely online. I have summarised my tried and tested top tips for studying at home below, hope they help!
Set up a comfortable and happy study space
This doesn’t have to be an office, but it is helpful to personalise your work space so that is comfortable and tailored to your study needs. I have found it helpful to surround my space with things that spark joy such as photos and nice stationary. These little touches will help motivate you on your off days. Keeping your area as a designated study space, free of clutter and distractions will help you stay focused and will help you separate your home life from student life.
Set realistic goals and stick to them
Time management and a realistic schedule become very important when studying from home. After a study session, I always set my goals for the following day while everything is fresh in my mind. Falling behind creates added stress, so keeping on top of the weekly content and setting weekly milestones is a great way to manage this. Goals and deadlines are very important, but it’s equally important to understand that some days you may not have the energy to study or something might come up that inhibits your abilities to do so and that’s completely ok. Don’t beat yourself up about a bad day, just come back with a rested mind when you can.
Keep in touch!
Moodle will become your best friend. Take some time to familiarise yourself with the new layout of your course and then use all the resources available to you such as forums and group discussions. This will assist in keeping engaged with your peers and lecturers and will help you to keep on top of everything. It’s also a good idea to set up group conversations with your fellow students on WhatsApp or similar. This gives you the ability to bounce ideas off of each other and will provide a support network.
Hide your phone! I cannot count the number of times I’ve sat down to study then procrastinated for hours by falling down the rabbit hole of social media and general distractions. Put your phone in another room and set a goal for the amount of study time you want to achieve. It’s also important to communicate your study requirements to the people around you. Being physically present can be confusing when you’d normally be at university, but setting boundaries, free of interruptions will help you stay focused.
This is so important! Studying from home takes a great deal of restraint so it’s important to find ways to reward yourself each day by doing something you love. Taking a bath, cooking something delicious, reading a book (not related to your studies), exercising or even taking some time out with your family are great, yet simple ways to give yourself a good old pat on the back.