Tips for Studying as an Online Student

Tips for Studying as an Online Student

Feeling Overwhelmed? Anxious? Overthinking everything?

Here are a few strategies to help build quality into your study time and to be more effective in your space.


Use the STOP skill. 


When you notice you are getting caught in a cycle of overthinking, the first thing to do is to get out of the “spin cycle” and into the present moment. You will not be productive when stuck on the hamster wheel of “what if’s” and “should haves”.

S – Stop what you are doing.

T – Take a step back. Turn away from your device.

O – Observe. Look up and around. Release your shoulders.

P – Proceed mindfully in the present moment. Take a deep breath. Relaxing into the exhale. 

Find one small thing you can do that will help you in this moment. 


Use the HALT-O skill. 


Check in with yourself. Hand on heart, take 3 deep breaths and turn your focus to your body. If you listen, your body can tell you what it needs.

H – Hungry? Try to fuel your body nutritiously when you can.

A – Angry? Anger often shows up when we are feeling other things too. Pause and explore/address this.

L – Lonely? Checking in with your friends and family is important. 

T – Tired? Getting enough rest is key for your mental clarity.

O – Overwhelmed? Sometimes identifying this feeling can help to give it a place, create some distance and help to find a starting point.

Managing the above symptoms first will help setup your day. 


Get comfortable and creative during lectures.


Our home space can feel small and distracting when we are living and studying in the same area. If you notice you are not engaged during lectures, consider mixing up how you are learning. 


Try one of the following:

  • Find another table or desk to study from. (kitchen table, dining room table, patio table, etc.)
  • Use a makeshift standing desk. Try a bookshelf or high counter to elevate your computer.
  • Cast your lecture to the tv. 
  • If possible, workout or go for a walk while listening to your lecture.  

Sitting at a desk isn’t conducive to everyone’s learning style all of the time, and sometimes we process more information by changing up the norm.


Set reasonable expectations.


If you are hitting a roadblock, change your goals. Expecting yourself to study hard for 6 hours straight isn’t realistic nor effective for most people. 

  • Try setting a timer for more productive and shorter chunks of time. 20 minutes of actual studying is better than an hour of distracted social media time with your lecture slides in the background. 
  • Take breaks. Get up, move, eat, drink water. 
  • For some, a ratio of 1:1 can work. Each minute of studying equals a minute of break. Find what works for you. 

Remember: motivation fuels motivation, so set the bar at something attainable and watch your willingness to work increase. 


Set a study plan.


  • Make a master list of everything you need to do. Include dates, colour code it, whatever helps to gain that sense of control. Then set it aside. This is not the list to refer too frequently if you are feeling overwhelmed. 
  • From the master list, decide on 3-5 things you need to accomplish every day. If you achieve more than that in a day – great! If not, you will have at least accomplished the “must do’s”.
  • Breaking down the work into bite-size steps will help to unfreeze the overwhelming moments, and to help you move forward. 


Try a schedule.


The freedom of working from home can be too much. Set a start time for yourself, and set an alarm for an hour before that to get yourself fed, dressed and set up. Good hygiene and proper nutrition can work wonders. 

This is new for everyone. You are doing school work during a pandemic utilizing new skills and technology while learning new information. Be gentle with yourself. Keep a balanced perspective. No one is getting this right completely – and that is ok. If you need help, ask. 

1 Comment

  • All Great advice, should be posted on the fridge

    patricia humphrey October 22, 2020

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