By Jeremie Ndongo (7 mins read)
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has affected various aspects of student life, including studying. Due to the restrictive access to tertiary education institutions, students are faced with the responsibility of being productive at home, outside of usual study places such as libraries.
It is likely to be a challenge, especially when you find it hard to effectively structure your days. To help you structure your days, we have sketched out a balanced, daily routine for you to consider.
Rest and work pattern
Good night’s rest done on time
Have a consistent time when you go to bed. To figure it out, keep in mind the (6-8) hours that your body needs for rest and the required time to wake up each morning. Preferably, the waking up time should be similar to that of your campus days.
Prepare yourself like you’re going to campus
In the morning, clean up and eat breakfast. Dress up, get your lunch and liquid (water, tea, coffee, juice, etc.) ready for the day ahead. Avoid spending your entire day in pyjamas as this promotes a casual mood, which can be fun at first but as time goes by, it quickly loses its appeal, especially if you are not getting the work done.
Set up a studying/working area
Try to make sure it is tidy, comfortable, quiet and use the same place throughout your studies at home. By doing so, you programme your brain to associate that space and its belongings with work.
Remember to get all your materials (textbooks, notes and stationery). Once you are done, clean up your studying/working space, leaving it neat for the next day.
Have a daily timetable and to-do list
A timetable makes it possible for you to prioritise your time, while a to-do list allows you to set daily goals and have focus. You should draft your to-do list for the day during the night before and place it somewhere noticeable.
Go ahead and have lunch, stretch your legs, take a walk around the house, talk to friends or family members. You should also consider minor house tasks: sweeping your room and washing a few dishes.
Completing these tasks gives you a sense of accomplishment and gets your head away from the books for a while to refresh your thoughts.
Communicate with lecturers, tutors and classmates
Continue to reach out to your lecturers and tutors for help and classmates/friends for some chats. It helps to maintain the sense of community that you had on a normal campus day.
You may also create an informal, online discussion group with your classmates/friends to have dialogues based on the work you have been studying. It is recommended that you keep this group as small as possible to maintain its focus and effectiveness.
Unwind with family and your favourite activity(ies)
Spend time with family, chat with friends via social media, catch up on the daily news and gossip to help you be informed about what’s happening in the lives of your loved ones and the country.
Do something that helps you unwind. It could be indoor stretches and exercises, cooking or even watching an episode or two of your favourite television shows, just make sure you don’t binge-watch.
Apply studying strategies
Use the objectives of each lecture/chapter
Every module has a primary lesson to be learnt. Within this primary lesson, there are sub-lessons that are found in the individual lectures or chapters making up the module. These are referred to as the objectives (or outcomes). Identify and focus on them. Speak to your lecturer and tutor if you are not understanding what is expected for these objectives.
Once you have identified the objectives, you’ll discover that there are areas of focus requiring more of your attention and others that simply need a quick read for a broad perspective of the concepts or procedures.
Use a timer when studying
Use a timer on your phone to keep track of the time you spend studying each module. If you are struggling to maintain your focus, try employing the Pomodoro technique.
It involves dividing each study period further as 25 minutes focus time with 5 minutes breaks in between. After every fourth focus session, take a 15-20 minutes break.
Take short notes and ask yourself questions
Be active in your studying by making short notes in your own words, asking yourself questions and testing your loopholes through practice exercises when there are any.
Watch explanatory YouTube videos
If it happens that you can’t understand a section in your textbook or notes, try watching an explanatory YouTube video about this section.
It is better to watch a three-minute video that easily explains the section and then read the text, instead of spending an hour on a long passage of text that you can’t understand. Ensure that you switch off the auto-play setting to avoid any form of distraction.
Add tasks to your to-do list
At the end of each study period, add things to your to-do list that you would like to get done the following day or in the upcoming days. This allows you to build momentum, consistency and keeps you motivated as you cross off the task(s) you have managed to complete.
Once the day is done, go through the day’s work
After you have completed all classes for the day, work on your notes and practice exercises given to you or the ones you have set for yourself. Use this time to enhance your understanding and memory. Remember spaced repetition is vital when studying any module. TOJ
This article is the modified version of an article first published by JoziTutors. Writing by Jeremie Ndongo. Editing by Gaby Ndongo and Kupakwashe Kambasha. Feature image by Eric Rothermel on Unsplash.
Jeremie Ndongo is a co-founder of JoziTutors, which is an education firm that specialises in personalised learning for primary and high school students. He has more than three years’ experience in the tutoring of science subjects. Jeremie is currently completing a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of the Witwatersrand.