There are a lot fewer social distractions when learning from home. No bullies in the hallway. Less drama. No chaotic classrooms with disruptive classmates. But you might find other distractions tempting you during your school day at home–that PS5 calling your name, the dog begging for the sweet freedom of the outdoors. And let’s not forget the irresistible call of smartphone notifications.
Here are three life hacks for maximizing your productivity while learning at home.
1. Replace Multitasking with Small Focus Sessions
The success of multitasking may be one of the most widespread myths in American work culture. Multitasking is inefficient because it doesn’t take advantage of how our brains work. Our brains simply aren’t wired to process more than one task at a time. So when we think we’re multitasking, we’re actually just rapidly shifting our focus between multiple tasks. This may feel productive because it takes a lot of energy, but multitasking tends to result in decreased performance and satisfaction.
So how can we take advantage of how our brains work to maximize productivity?
Schedule variety into your daily routine, but spread it out. This way you can give high-quality focus to one task at a time without getting bored. A fascinating Harvard study found that there’s a good and a bad kind of task variety. The bad kind is what we think of as multitasking. When you’re rapidly switching back and forth between multiple assignments, or between work and texting friends, you’re not fully enjoying any of your tasks. But, the study found that variety actually boosted people’s performance and work satisfaction when spread out throughout the day.
So, instead of sporadically switching between tasks, try scheduling variety into your schedule. Schedule thirty minutes for math. Schedule another thirty minutes for reading or writing. Turn off your phone and hide it away during these work sessions to take away temptation. Once you finish a study block, reward yourself with a guilt-free block of social media time. You’ll probably find yourself more productive and more satisfied with your time spent.
2. Take Frequent Breaks
When done right, breaks can be one of the most productive things you can do.
First, taking breaks is another way to take advantage of the way your brain already works. When you step away from your work, your mind is still working.
There is evidence that resting while awake…improves memory formation. During a rest period, it appears that the brain reviews and ingrains what it previously learned.Meg Selig, Psychology Today
Stuck on a problem? Can’t get past your writer’s block? Put your work aside and get some fresh air. Give your mind the space it needs to work for you.
Second, we can’t understate the benefits of physical activity breaks. Health experts have long known that regular exercise increases memory and brain functioning.
Now, before you panic over those extra pandemic pounds stopping you, don’t worry. You don’t have to become a fitness guru to enjoy the benefits of physical activity breaks. Simply walking around for five minutes is enough to jump-start your mind and refresh your body. Choose a physical activity that’s enjoyable–or the least painful–for you. Prioritize consistency over intensity.
3. Take Advantage of Your Sleep
Most of us know from personal experience that we’re more productive when we’re well-rested. But did you know that sleep in and of itself is a productive activity?
Sleep isn’t a mindless time for our bodies to become less tired. Our minds work hard when we’re sleeping. And we can use this to our advantage.
When we sleep, our minds actually form memories–not just retain them. In other words, people remember more after they sleep than they do before they sleep. Imagine two scenarios. Say you spend three hours studying for a test. In one case, you take the test immediately after studying. In the second case, you take the test after a good night’s sleep. Even with study time being the same, you would remember more of the material in the sleep scenario.
So if you’re going to cram, at least give yourself one night’s sleep in between your study session and your test. But the more you let your brain study while you’re asleep, the less you’ll have to actually study while awake. Spread your study sessions over multiple days to get the most out of your hard work.
How Sora Supports Students’ Productivity
Sora is a student-centered virtual high school. At Sora, we actively support our students’ productivity to help them achieve their goals. We give our students flexible scheduling to work on projects, learn at their own pace, and take the breaks they need to succeed. We also bookend every school day with house meetings. This way students have time to connect with classmates and keep each other accountable to reaching their daily goals.
If you’d like to learn more about what enrolling at Sora could look like for you, click here to speak with our admissions team.