How am I studying at home?

Hello, everyone! It’s been a while since I’ve written a post on this blog, but here I am! Just an update, I’ve been back home in Malaysia since the beginning of spring break (end of March). Last Sunday, the Prime Minister of Malaysia had announced that the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) would be extended to the 9th of June.

Anyway, it is now closing in on the end of my second year and our exam timetable came out at the start of this week. If you would like to know more about how the university is handling classes and assignments being online, you can read through Ying Thong’s blog post right here. Looking at our newly-released exam timetable, I am glad that our online exams are all spaced out with at least one day between each exam. It also seems that the online exams are open on SurreyLearn from 11:00 each scheduled day and are open for 24 hours, which takes into consideration international students who may be in their home country during the exam season.

I personally have been struggling to find the motivation to continue studying for online exams. I don’t usually study in my home, where I’d usually opt to study elsewhere (eg. in the library), which could be why I have been finding myself less motivated to study. Nonetheless, I’ve been trying my best to catch up and revise on content. Here are some of my tips which may help you study at home too!

Music + Noise-Cancelling Headphones
It really helps, at least to me, to have noise-cancelling headphones to block out disturbances when I’m studying. I personally have a pair of Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC headphones which are Bluetooth-capable and wireless (but you are also provided a typical 3.5mm jack cable). I got it several years ago and it still holds up today, although they may not be the best in the market today. Regardless, they are comfortable and I use them constantly. As for music, I’d generally listen to music without vocals whenever I’m studying. The genre ranges from day to day depending on the time and my mood when I study. On a sunny afternoon (which is basically every day in Malaysia), I would listen to more upbeat music like chillhop or melodic dubstep. If it’s a quiet night, I’d bring up a classical music playlist on Spotify, possibly even an R&B playlist.

These are my pair of Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC headphones. I’ve had to replace the earpads because they started wearing away after a few years, but it still works and feels great!

Forest App
If you don’t have it, I would also highly recommend the Forest app which is basically an app that acts as a timer for self-productivity. Basically, you would set a time for you to stay focused, and if you complete that session, you plant a tree in your ‘garden’ and the ‘garden’ keeps track of your progress each day. With every complete session, you would also get some in-game currency which you can use to purchase different kinds of trees to plant in your ‘garden’ or if you save up enough, you can help plant a tree in real life. Isn’t that great? I would usually use this app for studying, but it basically helps to keep me away from my phone when I should be productive. It has a ‘Deep Focus’ mode which is the basic timer, with the added challenge that if you exit the app, your tree would wither and count as a failed session. It is so satisfying to see one of my ‘garden’ plots full of different trees, and that way I know I was productive through the day. I personally set an hour to study with about 15-20 minutes of break time in between to give my brain a breather.

This is what the Forest app looks like! It’s a simple timer and you can toggle ‘Deep Focus’ mode on or off at the top.

Different Environment
Besides that, it has also helped me to study in a different room than I usually do. Like I’ve said before, I would usually prefer to study anywhere besides my home. Simply by moving from my bedroom to the dining room, it has helped my productivity drastically. It also helps to have my parents pass by the dining area and indirectly influence me into continuing to study. Being in the dining room has its downfalls though because I have been constantly snacking as I study. Oh well, a person has to eat. I’d rather be happy with my snacks than be miserably hungry as I study. Don’t forget to always be hydrated too!

Study Partners
To those who usually study in groups, I would recommend setting study sessions with friends and/or your coursemates. Personally, I don’t prefer studying in groups, particularly in groups bigger than four people. However, having someone who is studying along with me (in person or via video chat) also helps motivate me to study. As long as the group can focus, it helps immensely. The pitfall of study groups is the greater tendency to digress or chit-chat when you should be productive, which is why I prefer not to study in groups. This is why I tend to choose who I study with so I can be as productive as possible. You know who you are (if you are reading this at all).

I hope everyone is doing well at home, and I hope my study-at-home tips are able to help you somehow. Remember to maintain social distancing if you are able and do your best to maintain your mental wellbeing. See you next week!