How to get a first when your mum’s house just became your library

Easy peasy

Just when we thought that 2020 couldn’t get any worse, the evil bastard COVID-19 had to rear its ugly head and cancel classes, postpone exams and generally cause absolute fucking carnage. Motivating yourself to do uni work at home is the hardest part of study, and it’s always that bit harder to revise when you’ve got a thousand more distractions to deal with. All you’ve got is a bed/sofa, a desk if you’re lucky and a pile of things you’d rather be doing, staring you in the face.

Fear not. This is a guide to how you’re going to get that first, all from the comfort of your bedroom during quarantine. We believe in you.

nice lid

Get dressed

Seems obvious, but we’re not talking dressing gowns and booties. In order to prepare for the day adequately, you ought to dress as if you’re heading off out. It’s a very scientific fact (maybe) that dressing in your pyjamas subconsciously prepares you only for Netflix, sleep and not doing work.

Uni YouTuber and Oxford student Maninder Sachdeva told us: “Create a routine for yourself, even if that means getting dressed and ready as if you were going to go into uni – that way you won’t be lounging around in your pyjamas all day and may be more motivated to work!”

Lock your phone away

Speaking of dopamine hits, the enemy of productivity in this regard is the smartphone notification. You know the little feeling of elation when you get a like, message or tag? Social media does nothing but try and pull its users in with any tactic in the book – don’t succumb.  Chuck it under your mattress and don’t touch it for as long as you can go.

If this isn’t an option, try Forest – it’s an app that tracks your phone usage. If you deviate from the app, your tree will die. Leave it long enough, and your forest will eventually grow luscious and plentiful.

Try not to lie down if you can

Lying down triggers your body to think that its bedtime as opposed to work time. Sit up and grow up!

ThisIsMani‘s advice is to “try and create a specific workspace in the house, be that your dining table or your bedroom. Ideally, one with natural light and one where you can be alone to work without distraction.”

Set yourself some goals

“If I don’t do 1000 words by midday, then I’m not allowed that flake yoghurt in the fridge this afternoon”. This is the mindset we all need to adopt (yoghurt optional).

If you’re listening to music, make sure it has no lyrics

Research has suggested that calming music such as classical music and scores for games/films can help people when studying, lifting their mood and making them feel less stressed. On the opposite end of the stick, music with catchy lyrics or loud music can interfere with the amount of information that is taken in.

Go outdoors regularly

Your mind and body need a bit of rest and distraction from time to time. This is as much a general tip for people in quarantine as it is a scientifically-backed tip for learning. A healthy mindset needs to be nurtured in order to take in new information, so it’s important to get outside and focus attention away occasionally from what you’ll be putting your mind to for many hours. At least have your window open.

Obviously follow the government advice though: don’t go outside if you’re showing any symptoms or are in a vulnerable group and keep two metres distance from everyone.

woman covering her face with white book

If you can’t go outdoors, do something else to rest your mind

Do what makes you happy in your intervals to stimulate your mind as much as possible. Set a half-hour timer and do one of our great quizzes, or go and make a huge sandwich. Your mind is like a spinning top, and occasionally it needs another spin to ensure that it remains sharp, so take regular intervals to give you that little much-needed dopamine hit.

Use this opportunity to actually find good references

Look, we’re not saying that you’d usually go on your library’s search function or JSTOR and type in a few buzzwords, but let’s actually think about what all this spare time can afford you.

There’s no one stopping you from absorbing information in any way you can when it’s just you and your room. Find a film/series on Netflix that can be related back to what you’re writing about, listen to some podcasts or even venture tentatively onto YouTube. Now is as good an opportunity as any to flex your muscles when it comes to gathering sources for an argument from multiple places.

Drink A LOT of water

Ever had one of those days when you’ve felt really shit all day, only to realise that you didn’t actually consume one drop of liquid that wasn’t either booze or tea? Same. You want to be going to the toilet more regularly than you’d ideally want to, but your mind and soul will praise you for it. Seriously.

Get a routine together

As many websites have suggested in the wake of COVID-19, it’s important to follow some kind of routine in order to maintain a positive mental outlook. This involves pretty much all of the above, in a roughly regimental order.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

• Tell us your quarantine routine and we’ll tell you how much of a detty pig you are

• I paid someone online to write my essay for me, but would it fool my lecturer?

• I lived my week like a StudyTuber and honestly, I’m exhausted