While we are living in restricted times, finding tools to optimise how you work or study from home can be really beneficial. If you need some motivation, check out our six top tips to help you make the best of learning and working during another lockdown.
Finding a suitable work space
Although we appreciate that space can be hard to find, it is important to try and identify a place just for you, so you can set up your laptop, and have your books and resources around you. This can help you to focus when you are in this space, and also to switch off when you are not.
Don't do it alone
Don't forget to keep connecting with classmates and staff. Regularly message and call each other, and why not set up some virtual study groups, so you have peers to share ideas with and keep you motivated? Studying from home can feel really isolating, but a video call can help you realise you are still part of the BCU community, and that we are all in this together.
Try and make a plan of what you need to achieve each day, but remember to make it realistic. Keep to set time scales, and make these work for you – whether you’re an early bird or a night owl, or you need to plan your time around your family commitments. 9-5pm isn't for everyone, and while we're all at home, we have more flexibility on when we're logged on. Another idea is to switch between projects if you feel you're not being as productive as you hoped. If there's a few things to do in a day, it doesn't really matter what order you do them in, so just make it work for you. It can sometimes help to plan in a treat for your hard work too. Maybe something nice to eat at lunchtime or planned time for an activity or hobby at the end of the day, or the weekend. Make it something to look forward to, to help you push through the day, and then enjoy your reward in that moment.
Take a break and get moving
Make sure you take regular breaks from the computer screen, and your chair! If you can, take a walk to break up your day and get some fresh air (and a change of scenery!). If you'd rather stay in, try an online fitness class, some yoga or simply turn the music up and dance like no one is watching! Exercise is important for our physical and mental health, and while life is so different, looking after yourself (both physical, mentally and emotionally) is just as important as your studies, so try to prioritise exercise into your daily plan. It doesn't have to be strenuous or very time consuming to reap the benefits.
Take advantage of super foods
What we eat and drink can make a difference to how we feel, and potentially help our productivity. After the over-indulgence of the festive break, you might be more inclined to follow a healthier diet and drink more water anyway. If so, getting some super foods into your diet might give your brain the boost it needs to absorb your learning and keep your concentration up.
Good foods for your brain include fatty fish (such as salmon, trout and sardines) which are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for learning and memory; coffee – to keep you alert; blueberries – for their antioxidant properties, which are said to help brain cells communicate; broccoli – which is high in vitamin K and is said to help memory; pumpkin seeds – as these contain a range of micronutrients that are important for the brain (such as copper, iron, magnesium and zinc); and finally dark chocolate – which contains specific antioxidants called flavonoids, which are thought to enhance memory and slow down age-related mental decline. Plus, chocolate tastes good and makes you feel better, so why not? (Source)
Don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it
Whether it's help with a particular assignment, accessing specific study skills, or more general help you need, please don't be afraid to ask. We all need help from time to time, and the University has a range of support available to you, even from home. Our student support team, Careers+ service, and Professional Development Department are still accessible even if you aren’t on campus, so please reach out. We would also recommend talking to your personal tutor, so they know what is happening and can help you get any support you may need.
Looking after yourself is more important than ever at the moment, so as well as seeking support from the University, also take the time to check in with family and friends, and keep your support networks open.
Help is at hand
At Birmingham City University, there is a variety of student support available, either on campus or virtually from home.