Over the head shot of a person studying at a laptop

Staying sane while studying at home

Staying home is great for keeping COVID-19 at bay and flattening the curve, but you might be feeling a little stir crazy. It doesn’t seem like the key to being productive, but hey, we’ve gotta abide by our social responsibility.

Many of you online students have been doing this studying-at-home gig for a while now.

But a great many College student has now headed home, and the avid library user is now stuck at home. Regardless, studying at home while also doing literally everything else at home can have us feeling a little unhinged.

How many of you have found yourself rolling out of bed, crusty eyes, open your laptop with coffee in hand and get to work?

While we’ve got the chance – shout out to all of you working the front line in service provision – healthcare workers especially! And of course, our heartfelt sympathies go out to all of you who have lost your job. If you’re struggling, check out the COVID-19 Student Emergency Assistance Fund available to students in difficult financial situations.

Here are a few tips to keep you productive and sane when you’re doing literally everything from home, including studying.

1. Keep a routine.

Get up and go to bed around the same time each day! While it feels like a perpetual lazy Sunday, you’ve probably got a lot to do. Eat breakfast, shower, get dressed, keep lunch and study breaks in their normal timeslots! Whether you’re a morning person or a night owl, keeping your usual routine will help keep you productive and feeling less like a couch potato.

2. Set up your study space.

Some of you might have a pretty great study space already. For some of the College kids headed back home, there might not be the greatest study environment awaiting you. Whether it’s the dining table or a desk, create your study space. Keep it clean, free from clutter and organised.

3. Take breaks!

When you’re stuck in the same environment, it can be really easy for time and boundaries to slip away. Answering emails while eating lunch? Stop it! Give yourself proper breaks, whether it be for lunch or a cuppa in the sunshine. Disconnect from other tasks while you’re relaxing, and don’t let yourself start watching Netflix while you should be watching lectures!

4. Communicate with your fellow students and lecturers.

Get involved in Moodle discussions, and make sure you’re asking your lecturer questions about things you’re unsure of. Tune into those Zoom sessions (remember to look respectable, even if it’s only from the waist up!).

If you want to engage with other students in a more relaxed way, why not join the Bunker Down Facebook group?

Isolation need only be physical. We’re all in this together, there’s no need to isolate yourself in every sense.

5. Get outside and keep active.

As at the time of writing, there is nothing to stop you from getting outdoors provided you keep a safe distance from others. You’re allowed to walk with others from your household, or on your own, or with a maximum of 1 person who is not a member of your household. Just remember to keep a breezy 1.5m between yourself and someone who isn’t from your household. Fresh air and sunshine will have you feeling reinvigorated in no time. Turn that outdoor time into a brisk walk and you’ve also got in some exercise!

Not keen on going outside? There are endless fitness videos on Youtube. Find something that makes your heart happy.

6. Experiment with productivity techniques.

What better time than now to try out some productivity-boosting techniques? There are a heap of apps and browser extensions that can help – some feature lyric-free music, others block distracting websites. For some ideas, see here.

Forest – a personal favourite – gives you the chance to grow a tree if you steer clear of distracting websites and focus on your work for allotted timeframes!

There are even some very low-tech techniques you can try, like the Pomodoro Technique!

7. Be kind to yourself and others.

You don’t need to create a masterpiece, become a home schooling Zen mum or master a French omelette while staying at home. If you feel like you’re only just scraping by, that’s okay! At a minimum, if you’re doing what you need to do to keep yourself and your family healthy, you’re doing great! If you need to ask for an extension, or some extra help from the lecturer, don’t beat yourself up. If your baked beans aren’t comparing to the green smoothies on Instagram, just take a deep breath and keep on enjoying your baked beans.

Very few times in history has there been something to unite us across oceans and borders. The experience of COVID-19 is similar to many people, regardless of where they live. And some people are experiencing unmatched hardship. Now is a time for kindness, both online and in person.

8. Reach out for help.

Help is never too far away. There is a range of assistance available to UNE students. Whether it’s financial assistance, counselling, assistance with enrolment, or a general space to connect with other students, we’ve got you covered. Many UNE staff are working from home, but we are plugged in and ready to take your calls and emails.

UNE students can access free counselling through UNE Student Counselling and Psychological Services (CAPS)They are fully qualified and registered psychologists, offering on-campus appointments and phone/video chat sessions for online students. The service is confidential and free for UNE students.

You can contact them Monday- Friday, 9am-4 pm, on (02) 6773 2897.

For more urgent assistance, UNE offers After Hours Support on weekdays from 4.00pm to 9.00am AEST, weekends and public holidays. Phone 1300 661 927 or text 0488 884 169. Alternatively, you can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

If you are experiencing problems with your study, Advocacy & Welfare can help you request assignment extensions, special extensions of time, or apply for a remission of fees.

Contact us at advocacy@une.edu.au or (02) 6773 3116.

You’re never alone at UNE.