How Do I Study from Home Productively?

Aug 13, 2020

There are a number of students that studied from home in the pre-COVID days, but for me this has always been a very challenging task.

Do I have any laundry I need to do?

That blanket is not folded perfectly.

What snacks do I have?

I’ve always wanted to organize my clothes by color.

Well, I may as well vacuum the ceiling too while I’m cleaning.

Anything not to study, right?

For those of you that study from home with ease, we commend you. For the rest of you, take a look below for our tips to be most productive while at home. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, universities debate whether classes will be in-person or not. Even if classes are in-person, some students may not be comfortable studying at the library. So how the heck do I get anything done in my apartment?


1. Put the Phone Away
I put this first because I think it is the most important. More and more it feels like your phone is an extension of your body. You’d be missing a limb if you left it behind. However, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, Facebook, Reddit, YouTube, and every other app on your phone can stop your studying dead in its tracks. Americans on average check their phones 96 times a day or once every 10 minutes(1).

My recommendation is place your phone in another room or in a drawer. Shut the phone off if you have to. Out of sight, out of mind. I’m wildly more efficient when I do not have my phone in front of me. It also feels good to detach from your phone for a few hours, then you can enjoy all of your texts, updates and posts afterwards.


2. Get your Caffeine Right
Ever showed up to the library with no coffee and 8 hours of studying ahead of you? It usually ends with you grabbing a coffee from the nearest bucks or heading home to go back to bed.

Now on the flip side, ever been running on fumes and slammed a quad espresso to ‘get you through this’? Over caffeinated is the worst situation; your knee will be bouncing like a jack hammer and your mind will be running at 1,000 mph. Then if you decide to throw in the towel on studying because you are being unproductive, good luck falling asleep.

I recommend figuring out your perfect dose of caffeine. Everyone will have a different preference of drink type and strength, but if you have made it this far in medicine I’m guessing you are very well versed in what’s your go-to.

Don’t believe in caffeine? Check out this study by Johns Hopkins exploring caffeine’s positive effects on memory.


3. Set Your Workspace Up
A clean and an organized workspace is key to productive studying. Some of you may be working with less space than others. A 20 foot, 3-piece desk surrounded by leather bound books that smell of rich mahogany is not required. Adequate space for your laptop, books and a notebook is all you need. Make sure your laptop cord can reach the nearest outlet.

If you are located in a room with a TV, do not turn that puppy on. ‘I’ll just listen to it in the background’. Next thing you know, you are halfway through Too Hot to Handle and nowhere on your studying.


4. Don’t Go in on an Empty Stomach
You do not want to have your workspace setup, caffeine in you, phone away and now your stomach is growling! Grab some food to keep you full and focused during your studying. We recommend something on the light end, but that will keep you full. Salad with chicken, eggs and (turkey) bacon, ham sandwich – you get the idea.

I have gone to McDonald’s before studying to slam a Big Mac, 20 nuggets and a large fry thinking it would compensate for the drag of studying. It was awesome in the moment. But I paid dearly for this. I wasted about 90 min scrolling around Facebook and called it a day.

Similar to caffeine, find your perfect balance.


5. Move!
You’re 2 hours into studying and absolutely crushing it. Well done. But you have 6 more hours left. You may think you are in it to win it. I sprint marathons bro!

If you’re in a groove, stick with it, but if you are at a good break point – get up, walk around a little bit. This could be as simple as walking around your apartment a few times and grabbing a glass of water or going for a 30 min walk outside.

Go for a 30 min walk outside? That’s wasted time! I need to study!

I know where you’re coming from, but in my experience moving around will make you more productive. Let your brain take a pause and digest what it just went through. Get your blood pumping. I think you will be happy with the burst of energy you get and your level of re-focus.


6. Cut Bad Habits (Immediately)
Are you ordering a Domino’s pan with pep, extra crispy every time you study?

Buying more clothes online that you can’t wear out in the quarantine?

It’s the highlight of my study day, ok?

I’ve been there before and you need to treat yourself but be very careful with these habits. You do not want to go into credit card debt or eat junk because you are not happy studying. It may seem like a good move in the moment, but I’d just think twice before each of these.


7. Reward Yourself!
Can this guy quit bossing us around? Ok, last one. Reward yourself!!!

Medical School is no walk in the park. It requires undivided attention and dedication. Rewarding yourself will make it easier to get through. Made it through a grueling week of studying and feeling good? Grab some gordita crunches from taco bell, have 2-3 glasses of wine and binge watch your favorite show.

Studying is exhausting, so let loose. Pick a night each week that you’re going to treat yourself. You will be able to look forward to that night all week while studying and not feel guilty after it.

We hope these tips and tricks improve your study time and allow you to have some fun too. Interested in hearing about other topics? Comment below.

(1) Asurion-sponsored survey by Market Research Firm Solidea Solutions conducted August 18-20, 2019 of 1,998 U.S. smartphone users, compared to an Asurion-sponsored survey conducted by market research company OnePoll between Sept. 11 – 19, 2017 of 2000 U.S. adults with a smartphone.


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