With the recent outbreak of Covid-19, many of us may have to gather our books and study from home.

Schools are closed, the library is off limits and people are required to practise social distancing. This certainly poses some challenges when it comes to studying. You may be dealing with feelings of low motivation and distractions. Not to mention not having your classmates beside you to bounce ideas off of.

To help you out, here are a few tips for staying focused and positive while working from home:


1. Create a nice study space

Dedicate a specific space in your home just for learning. This should be somewhere quiet, serene, and with few distractions to help you get in the right mindset. Some people work better sitting at a desk, keeping clutter to a minimum. Others prefer the comfort of a beanbag chair or a sofa where they can put their feet up. The important thing is to get comfortable – but not so comfortable that you begin to feel sleepy!

9 Tips for Studying at Home - Declutter | Oxford House Barcelona

2. Focus on your surroundings

Choose somewhere with natural light if possible. An open window with some fresh air will help you stay alert and focused. If you have some house plants in sight even better!

Not only do plants boost your mood and create a therapeutic environment, but studies by NASA have shown how they increase air quality by increasing toxins and humidity. A healthier mind means you’ll study for longer!

Create the right ambience. Background noise can help many people stay focused while studying, and there are a ton of apps out there to help you set the tone. Coffitivity recreates the sounds of a university campus cafe, for example, or the gentle hum of morning conversation. If white noise or nature is more your thing, try Noisli. You can even experiment with your own sounds. Simply select the notes you want to overlap and get into the zone.

9 Tips for studying at home - Noisli | Oxford House Barcelona

3. Set boundaries

On lockdown, many families will have to get used to working at home together. Now, let’s be honest, being under the same roof with anyone 100% of the time can be an intense experience. This is why it’s essential you set your own ground rules.

Make sure you have your own designated work space, and don’t be afraid to close yourself away and stick to studying for a few hours. Express clearly your expectations with other family members. Remember, it’s okay to value your time alone during this time, but communication is key!


4. Build a routine

With your normal study situation gone out the window, it’s important to build a new routine. Get up, get dressed and definitely do not stay in your pyjamas all day. More than ever it’s crucial to distinguish your daily goals, so divide your tasks into exercise, meals, study, chores and downtime.

Making a study timetable can help make the most of your time at home. Set your tasks into manageable chunks and realistic limits for how long you’ll spend each day. There are many apps out there to give you a helping hand. One example is My Study Life, which lets you integrate all areas of your academic life. So if you have other subjects to manage, this could be the one for you.

Building a to-do-list can also help get organised; plus, it’ll give your mood a boost when you get to cross things off the list. Momentum is a great chrome extension which acts as a personal dashboard on your computer. It gives you the option to create a personal to-do list, and features beautiful backgrounds and inspirational quotes to help stay motivated!

9 Tips for studying at home - Momentum App | Oxford House Barcelona

5. Set strict hours

Pick a specific time to start and finish your study time. This will help make sure you don’t overwork yourself when there’s little separation between school and home. First decide if you prefer studying in the morning or in the afternoon and then allocate some hours during that time.

Take some time off too for relaxation, it’s not necessary to do work every day, as one study shows how a 4-day work week can actually boost productivity. So, put down those books and spend some time doing things you enjoy. Get a good night’s sleep too!


6. Take regular breaks

When all your days have merged into one, it’s important to take regular breaks to keep your mind fresh. Many studies have shown the importance of ‘play’ in our daily lives, and doing something you enjoy each day can stop you from going ‘round the bend (and sorry guys, checking Facebook doesn’t count). Try to go for something a bit more wholesome, like reading a chapter of your book, playing a card game with a friend or doing some yoga stretches.


7. Time yourself

Ever heard of the Pomodoro Technique? Developed in the 1980’s by Francisco Cerillo, this clever little technique gets its name from the tomato shaped kitchen timer. It’s a great way to eliminate procrastination and ensure you’re not overworking. Simply set the clock, attempt 25 minutes of uninterrupted work and then reward yourself with a 5 minute break when the buzzer goes off. More modern tools like Toggl do the same thing to help you to manage your time.

9 Tips for studying at home - Pomodoro Technique | Oxford House Barcelona

8. Focus on your diet

When working from home it can be easy to eat irregularly or forget about mealtimes. However, the food you consume can definitely have an affect on your productivity. As one study suggests, it’s important to make your eating decisions before you get hungry, and avoid foods that make you feel mentally drained.

Grab a snack during breaktime. It’s certainly important to stay energised and hydrated while working hard, so go for healthier options like almond and walnuts, which are known to sharpen your brain and improve cognitive function. Cherry tomatoes and carrot sticks make a perfect bite-sized snack, too.

9 Tips for Studying at Home - Focus on your Diet | Oxford House Barcelona

9. Stay connected…well, some of the time

Studying from home can feel like a lonely experience. But it doesn’t need to be. Why not set up study groups with your classmates on Whatsapp to swap ideas? Or make use of video platforms like Zoom and Skype to interact with teachers and fellow language learners like you. Face-to-face contact is the perfect opportunity to speak in English and build up your fluency.

Enjoy an intercambio with a tool such as Tandem. And look out for the online version of our very own Chatty Thursdays (or Charlemos for Spanish students)! All of these things will help quash those feelings of isolation. Plus, talking to someone can help keep you on track with your goals.

At the same time, it’s important to know when to switch off those devices and give your mind a break. Apps such as Antisocial and SelfControl are great for temporarily blocking those pesky websites. And if that doesn’t work, try Moment, which sends you annoying, vibrating notifications every time you pick up your phone.

Last but not least, stay positive! In difficult times it’s important to stay focused. Do the best you can do without putting too much pressure on yourself.

If you are interested in taking online English or Spanish classes with Oxford House, contact the school at: info@oxfordhousebcn.com

Looking for more study tips? Read our article: 10 Ways to Learn English at Home.

Glossary for Language Learners


Find the following words in the article and then write down any new ones you didn’t know.

Gather (v): to collect.

Bounce ideas off (exp): to share thoughts and ideas with someone else.

Clutter (n): a lot of stuff or things.

Hum (n): a low, steady, continuous sound.

Lockdown (n): emergency protocol that prevents people from leaving their home.

Ground rules (n): basic rules or regulations.

Go out the window (exp): a plan that suddenly disappears.

Chunks (n): sections.

Dashboard (n): a homepage on a website.

Go ‘round the bend (exp): go crazy.

Wholesome (adj): an activity that is good for your well-being.

Buzzer (n): an alarm with a buzzing sound.

Drained (adj): exhausted.

Sharpen (v): to improve.

Quash (v): to stop/end.

Pesky (adj) : annoying.


n = noun

pv = phrasal verb

n = noun

exp = expression

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