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How to survive distance learning

Do you find yourself propped up in bed staring at a blank laptop screen page for extended periods of time? Do you go through the ritualistic motions of sitting at your computer, textbook open in front of you, just to find yourself hours deep in tik tok or instagram? Are you lacking the motivation to watch that 2 week old pre-recorded lecture video? If you answered yes to any or all of the above questions, you are likely having some struggles with adapting to distance learning or at-home-learning. Once an option many students opted out of for the in person experience, distance learning has become the status quo for many education providers. While I think we can all agree that distance learning definitely has its many perks, one of which include getting to attend class in your Pyjamas. I think we can also all agree that our homes can be the best facilitators for procrastination and distraction. Below are five things that I have started doing that have completely changed the at-home-learning game for me.

  1. Creating a dedicated study zone

While I completely understand the allure of wanting to watch that 2 hour lecture in the comfort of your cosy bed, be aware, the likelihood that you will succumb to the desire to fall asleep is very high. In spite of the many comfortable seating options at your disposal in your new home learning environment, opting for the use of a dedicated and practical zone for studying is one of the most important tips on this list. This is because having a zone purely dedicated to studying will help your body better identify study mode vs rest mode. Some attributes of a good study zone include a quiet space, some sort of desk or table, and a comfortable (but not too comfortable) chair to sit on. I have personally seen a massive improvement in my levels of productivity and longevity since adopting this.

  1. Have a schedule and stick to it

Tip number two is one we have all heard a thousand times. How does the saying go? “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. The fact of the matter is, without some kind of schedule or rough strategy at the very least to tackle your workload, you will likely become overwhelmed by all that is required of you, and the lethargy will likely set in soon after. One thing we must remember is that distance learning requires you to take accountability for all the learning and the assignments on your own. Without classmates or educators physically with you, motivating you by their mere presence, it can be hard to stay on track. As we all have different commitments and responsibilities, taking the time to nut out what days and times will realistically work and then sticking to them will make a world of difference.

  1. Watch lectures at a faster speed

This one’s a bit cheeky, but I will share it anyway. Tip number three is to watch pre-recorded long lecture videos on a faster playback speed if available. I find that watching videos at 1.5x speed allows me to catch all the information being dispensed while quickly skipping through all the unrelated side comments and tangents that inevitably eat up a lot of time. While still having the ability to pause and rewatch important parts of the video, I find this tip to be a huge time saver! Seriously try this, you won’t look back. This setting is often located in the video settings area or near the video control buttons.

  1. Utilise productivity tools and settings on your device

While our devices have the potential to be huge sources of distraction, we would be naive to completely dismiss the role that they can play in helping us to stick to our distance learning journey. Some of my favourite basic tools to use on my phone include the alarm feature, the stop watch, reminders, and ‘do not disturb’ settings. Additionally, some of my favourite apps include Microsoft To Do, and Google Calendar.

  1. Prioritise rest

This almost seems counterintuitive to the goal of productivity, but prioritising rest by intentionally scheduling breaks will help keep you going for longer. Treating yourself with a 10-15 minute break between classes or long periods of concentration will make it easier for you to sustain that focused energy for longer. The added bonus of having scheduled periods of rest weaved into your study routine is that you can watch that episode of your favourite show or scroll through your favourite social media app completely guilt free. Isn’t that what we all want?


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