One of the most important things for you to be successful at learning online is figuring out how to create a good study space. Although everyone is different and we all study and learn in our own way, there are some common habits and preparations that can give you a big advantage. Here are some ideas that may help.
Maintain a Regular Schedule
One of the best things I have found to make learning online successful is being efficient with my time.
Block out time for each task. Make a plan for your time.
You know that feeling when you are doing something without thinking too much about it not watching the time, and then you look up and a few hours have gone by? And you’re not sure how all that time passed. And you really don’t have much to show for it.
You do not want that feeling when you are studying.
You want to set yourself up for the most return on your time investment.
So set a schedule and watch it closely. You can tailor your time to your personality, like 15 minute chunks vs hour time blocks. Whatever fits you and makes you learn better. But don’t NOT do it.
Measure your time so you can maximize it.
Speaking of being efficient, use routines. Anything you do regularly can be created as a routine.
With things that can be put together, you can make routines that build one task on another and help make things funner and easier.
Here are some examples.
If you create a routine to set the next days study goals each night before you go to bed, you won’t have to waste time thinking every morning about what you should do today. Your new bedtime routine maps out the important tasks for you.
Then, in the morning, you can pair the task of going over your previously created list with something else you do every morning, like brush your teeth or drink a green drink. That way, you don’t even have to think about preparing for the day by going over your list, you do the one thing every morning and now you do them both.
With routines, you can automate some of your day and leave your brain power to the actual learning.
Schedule Breaks (and don’t cut them short)
One of the biggest things you need to watch out for is burn out. Nothing will waste your time like thinking you are studying when you are actually spacing out and thinking of something else.
You have to take breaks.
I have felt myself getting less and less interested in a topic as I’m studying for longer and longer. I know I need to recharge. Clear my head.
But if we don’t build the breaks into our schedule, we go too long.
Sometimes we need to protect ourselves from ourselves.
Build regular breaks into your schedule so you don’t get to the point where you’re studying in a fog.
Plan your breaks. You’ll feel the difference.
Get dressed actually means more than just getting dressed. This section is really just a call to take your study time seriously. It’s not even really a problem if you study in your jammies, but you can’t be mentally in your jammies.
You have to put your mind in a different mode than when you are napping, talking with friends, eating a meal, or watching TV.
You have to know that this is study time. Sometimes that does mean actually getting dressed, but if you can do it without actually getting dressed (and without actually lying to yourself), great.
But figure out what you need to do to be serious about your study time and do it. Put yourself in that place and create the learning vibe.
Use Music to Set the Tone for Each Task
Speaking of the vibe, this is one of my favorite ways to create my learning atmosphere.
Music can set your mood. It can create energy inside you. It can put you in a rhythm.
Each of your tasks throughout the day needs a certain tempo. Sometimes you need to be energized. Sometimes you need to feel relaxed. Sometimes you need to focus. Sometimes you need to be able to plug along in repetition.
Each task we need to do has a rhythm to it. And the right music can set us up in that rhythm.
This is another thing that should be planned. You can sit down in your prep time and create playlists for each type of work you’ll do. Then, when you have to focus, just hit the focus playlist. Time for energy, hit the playlist that pumps you up.
Music is a tool. Use it to your advantage.
Make Sure You Eat and Drink in a Healthy Way
Your brain needs to be at it’s best. You have to be eating and drinking things that are going to add good fuel to your body and your brain.
This is not an article on the specifics of a good diet, so I won’t go into the actual things you should be eating and drinking, but if you don’t know that Twinkies are bad and veggies are good, then you need more help than I can provide here. 😉
Needless to say good fuel will boost your learning in ways you will appreciate long after the test is passed and the certificate is earned.
Set Rules and Boundaries with Other People
Other people and how you manage your interactions with them will be crucial.
Your friends and family can help you succeed, or they can very quickly derail you.
First you need to consciously decide on your boundaries. You need to figure out what interactions you can have with others and when.
Then you need to communicate those boundaries to others.
There will of course be exceptions. Things come up and it would probably be rude to not be flexible when the need arises.
But if you can set ground rules for yourself and others, then you can get your work done, and spend quality time with others and not feel guilty about either one.
Plan for Distractions – Internal and External
There will be things that come crashing into your learning environment and try to steal your attention.
You can’t plan for everything, but there are some things that you can expect ahead of time and prepare yourself for that.
Friends will come over with a ne game and want you to join in. See section above on communicating boundaries.
You may share a space with others who will also be studying (or watching TV, or eating, or talking to someone else).
Regardless of what it is, learn to expect and plan for things that will steal your attention from your learning and plan how to either take a break and engage, and then get right back to effective study, or disengage and focus on learning.
Planning ahead what you will do will help make the right decision when it matters.
80/20 Your Resources
Have you heard of the 80/20 rule? If not, you can read about it in detail here.
Basically, what it says is that 80 percent of your success in something usually comes from 20 percent of your effort.
You can use that as you strive to learn online.
Look around at all the things you do each day and figure out what gives you the best results.
Are there times of the day when you get your best studying done? is there a couch or a chair or a corner of the room where you can stay focused and comfortable the longest? Is there a book or a blog or a friend that always seems to put concepts in a way you can easily understand?
Do these more.
Take time and effort away from the places and things that are not as effective for you and spend it more in your most effective areas.
This is a key tactic that can add exponentially to your progress.
Get Into a Zone
Top athletes that are the best in their sport talk about getting in the zone.
You have felt that feeling when everything you do just flows. All your shots drop, your stories capture all the attention, your sales presentation wins the day with little or no push back.
The zone is a great place to be.
And we can create the zone by paying attention to all the things we’ve already talked about.
You can set up routines, create and communicate boundaries with yourself and others, eat right, use music, and do more of the most productive activities to help put yourself in the zone.
And when you get in the zone, maximize it.
Feel what’s it’s like not only to be in it, but what you did to get into it.
When you can get yourself into the zone, your learning will skyrocket.
End the Day with a Routine
At the end of each day, create routines that will set up your success for the next day.
Success is not an accident. Success is something you can plan for.
Create your best learning environment by using the ideas in this article and any others you come across that will make you more effective.
When you decide to learn online, there are things you can do to make it a huge success. Figure out what you need to do to create a good study space and make the most of your time and effort.