Part 1: Study Planning and Maintaining Motivation at Home

Need to study from home, but don't how? In this article, we discuss study planning and maintaining motivation at home so your marks don't suffer if you're in isolation, home-schooling, or in a shutdown.

Mobile banner study planning and maintaining motivation

When you’re not surrounded by peers and teachers it can be hard to stay focused. In this article, we’re going to give you a detailed guide for study planning and maintaining motivation at home.

Study planning and maintaining motivation at home

As you would study for any exam, studying and learning during a period of self-isolation or a school-shutdown requires planning and a systematic approach.

If you have to study for all subjects over a prolonged period, you need to have a practical series of processes to:

Only, doing it remotely, as we have discussed, comes with a unique set of challenges.


Plan your study priorities

When you are away from the classroom, you need to be able to set your study priorities.

In the classroom, your teacher is in a position to help you find out what your (or your child) is struggling with and needs to work on. Outside of the classroom, it’s going to be more difficult to have teachers identify these weaknesses. You need to use the tools at your disposal to identify weaknesses yourself so you can focus on the areas you need.

It’s easier to focus on your strengths than struggle through your weaknesses!

So, how can you do this?

  1. Find out where you are at: The first thing you want to do is take the checkpoint quizzes associated with your classwork. Mark your quizzes and identify what subjects and subject areas you are struggling with.
  2. Reflect: Take the time to look at your quiz results and recent subject results and evaluate –
    1. Your strength in each subject
    2. The areas of each subject that you struggle with
    3. What you think is the hardest or most difficult subject to get on top of
  3. Communicate: Once you’ve narrowed down your strengths and weaknesses get in touch with your teacher and discuss what you need to target and the best way to do that. Matrix teachers have a good sense of where their students are struggling and give them guidance on what students need to work on.


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Stay organised

School is organised, so you should be too. To make sure you don’t waste time or fall behind while you’re outside of class, you want to follow this process:

  1. Block: Break your day down into 8 40-minute blocks.
  2. Timetable: You can either stick to your current school timetable or put together a new one. When planning a study timetable, you must take your study priorities (above) into consideration.
  3. Separate learning and reinforcement: If you make yourself a new timetable, set separate blocks for learning content and revising content. Homework is done after school to help reinforce the content you have learned in class. When you set yourself a timetable, you need to structure some blocks for learning content and others for reinforcing it.
  4. Break: Schedule regular breaks for food and rest. Just like school, you don’t want to focus blindly for blocks of more than 1-2 hours. You should try and have regular breaks of between 30 minutes and an hour.
  5. Communicate: Plan time to regularly correspond with your teachers. To help you with the blocks of learning that you’re struggling with and to get feedback, you need to organise time each day to communicate with the teachers for your subjects.

This plan is about more than organising your day, it is about setting yourself boundaries and limiting your ability to procrastinate. Two weeks, or longer, of not studying during term can put you months behind. You must make sure that you don’t give yourself the opportunity to procrastination.


Maintain motivation

Studying from home brings a lot of flexibility for students. But it also presents the sorts of challenges that remote workers face. Some of the issues that remote workers struggle with are:

  • Feeling disconnected from colleagues and peers
  • Unplugging after work or study
  • Staying focused on the task at hand.

Here are the top 5 tips for staying motivated while studying away from the classroom:


1. Routine:

Make yourself a daily routine.

You have one at school where you wake up, go for a jog or to the gym, have breakfast, go to school. You need to mimic something similar at home.

Even if in isolation, NSW Health has said that you are allowed to go out for exercise as long as you are well and avoid other people.

Aim to have a morning routine that includes:

  • A dedicated wake-up time
  • Some morning exercise
  • A healthy and hearty breakfast (to fuel your body and brain!)
  • A specific and consistent time to eat breakfast


2. Space:

You must have an appropriate study space.

A classroom is a dedicated study space. One of the reasons they are effective is because we know the specific purpose of the space.

If you are unable to study at school, for whatever reason, make an appropriate study space at home. It is best if you can set this space up in an area that is not a bedroom or one where there is a TV. You don’t want to have it in the back of your mind that this is a space where you can relax or be distracted.

You need something which you can say is “my classroom.” You can find ideas for creating a good study space here.

study planning and maintaining motivation at home a clean study space image


3. Connection:

Stay in touch with your peers and teachers

Peer groups and communication with your teachers will help you stay motivated and focused. You don’t want to become isolated as it will be hard for you to have goals.

You want to organise a study plan for each subject with your teachers. Ask them:

  • What you should be studying?
  • What academic goals should you be setting yourself?
  • To organise a daily communication plan so you can ask questions and get feedback and answers in a timely manner.

Similarly, you want to create dedicated study discussion groups with your peers. Matrix students can take advantage of our online discussion groups in LMS. But, a WattsApp, Facebook,  or similar group. Even a daily Skype or video hookup with mates can be a good way to:

  • Set some group study goals
  • Discuss challenging problems or difficult texts
  • Share and critique ideas

It’s also important that you share documents amongst one another and share responses so you can proof and critique each others writing. Finally, you want to keep each motivated and positive. Make sure that you encourage one another and help each other stay focused.


4. Family:

Let your family support and push you

Staying motivated means being willing to accept help from your family but also letting them push you when you are settling into a funk.

Before you start studying or begin planning your learning, discuss your concerns with your parents. Discuss a plan for them to help you achieve your best. Some things to discuss are:

  • What you want to achieve
  • What you feel you will struggle with
  • Ways they can support you
  • Things that you feel will be counterproductive for you
  • Asking them to ensure that you maintain a routine and continue to get exercise and stay healthy

If you are all home together, you should consider timetabling when people use spaces around the house to allow you a calm and practicable


5. Goals:

Set practical and consistent goals

The best motivator is to have goals you can check off. When we ask our high achieving students what helped them the most, they consistently say that goal setting is at the top of the list.

One of the first things you should do when planning your study is to write up a list of goals for you to achieve. Once you have this, you then have something to aim for and can have the satisfaction of ticking off your list once it’s done. The things you may want to consider including are:

  • Daily targets for what you want to achieve
  • The amount of reading you want to finish
  • Number of problems you want to work through
  • Practice papers or tests you need to complete
  • The level of mastery that you wish to achieve
  • Finishing a piece of writing or redrafting something that you’ve written

If you set yourself the goal of finishing a task, you are more likely to finish the tasks.

In our blog, many of our alumni have shared their experiences of goal setting and planning their study. Some good articles that may help you with this are:

study planning and maintaining motivation at home image of bullseye to show targets


In our next article, we’re going to show you how to learn online. We’ll give you a step-by-step process so you can ensure your learning doesn’t stop while everything else does.

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