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Lockdown Study Guide: Goldsmiths LibGuides

This guide identifies some of the study challenges that lockdown presents and suggests strategies for dealing with them.

The Challenge: not having a dedicated study space

“I can’t seem to find a physical place where I can study at home” 

Strategies for dealing with this challenge 

  • You may be using a place in your home which is shared with others. Having a shelf or storage box near your study space can help you to set it up and pack it away quickly. 
  • Assertive communication with other members of your household is a good skill to practice. For example, stating your needs: “For my study needs today, I’m going to need to use the kitchen table for two hours, is that okay with you?"
  • For those students living in London and able to travel, Goldsmiths Library at New Cross has bookable study spaces but you need to follow strict guidelines.

The Challenge: not being able to focus

“I just can’t seem to sit down and concentrate and when I do I’m easily distracted” 

“I get lost in a scroll of death on Twitter” 

Concentration and focus are two of the most important things needed for study. Distractions can be overwhelming in lockdown. Ask yourself: What is distracting me; is it external or internal? 

The main offender of external distraction comes from noise. 

Strategies for dealing with this challenge

  • You can limit these distractions by investing in a pair of over-ear headphones to block out the external noise, or use a variation of ear plugs. 
  • Mindful meditation can help develop your concentration. A short introduction can be found here
  • The Headspace app is helpful for developing mindfulness techniques.

External distractions such as social media, YouTube and apps on your phone can also be disruptive.

Try to resist…don’t watch this video.
Did you watch it? It’s almost impossible not to watch…it’s addictive. 

Strategies for dealing with this challenge

  • The best way to treat these distractions is like an addiction. A suggested strategy is that you completely cut these out for the period of study. So during your period of study completely avoid these distractions; even in breaks between study. When your whole period of study is over, then you return to them but only when the study is done. You may think that you can dip in to them for a little bit, then stop and switch back to focused study mode. However, you know the reality is that you will get lost in it. 
  • A strategy is to turn off your phone or put it on silent mode and out of sight. You don’t have to lock your phone in a drawer but you can, on your laptop/desktop/device you are studying on, log out of all social media platforms. At least you will have the split second cushion of having to log back in. If this fails then you can take it up a level and go for the extreme and lock yourself out. 
  • Block yourself from social media distractions by trying a free trial using an app like Freedom.
  • More ideas on avoiding becoming distracted by social media and the like can be found in the book Make Time by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky (2018): https://maketime.blog/ 

The Challenge: internal distraction

“Studying feels like the least of my problems to think about at the moment” 

We all live complex and engaged lives and sometimes life problems get in the way. It is important to deal with your problems at a specific time and in a supportive place. 
Ruminating is a state of overthinking, repetitive thinking, going over and over a problem in ever decreasing circles; but getting nowhere.

Strategies for dealing with this challenge

  • If you try to study whilst in this ruminating state then the chances are you won’t get very far. Learn to deal with your internal emotional psychological problems at a certain time and when you study try to detach yourself from them for a short period of time.  Remember you’re not ignoring them, you’re just parking them outside for a while, so your full attention can be used on your study.  
  • Ask for support - the Goldsmiths Wellbeing team can provide support if your personal circumstances are affecting your wellbeing and/or your studies.

The Challenge: managing my study time

“I’m having problems organising my time and completing projects” 

Some students have children and families to look after whilst they are trying to study. Some students live alone. Every student is in a unique and different circumstance.  

Strategies for dealing with this challenge

  • You need to do the best you can under your circumstances you are in right now. You should not ask anything more of yourself. Accept your situation and try not to set unrealistic expectations of yourself.
  • One of the ways you can make realistic expectations of your time is to record your study time then create a personalised timetable. You need to keep a record of study for a week, noting down every study activity you do. You can do this by hand or use an app like this one. Search your app store for ‘time tracker’, ‘time logger’ or ‘study log’ for similar apps. 
  • Once you have completed your record for at least a week then you reflect on this record of study. Based on this, you then make a new timetable for the next week based on your record of what worked well and what did not during the last week.  
  • A good book available online from Goldsmiths Library is Time Management by Kate Williams and Michelle Reid.

Study challenge: dealing with multiple deadlines

“It feels like if got too much do and it is all due in at the same time” 

Strategies for dealing with this challenge: 

Typically, a student will go through the following stages when writing an assignment:

  • Understanding the brief 
  • Researching and reading for the assignment 
  • Preparing an outline or plan for what you are going to write 
  • Writing a first draft 
  • Editing the first draft and coming up with a second draft 
  • Proofreading your work 
  • Submitting your work 

The strategy is that you go through each of your assignments and plan into your calendar mini milestones. For example, ‘for assignment one,  I want to have completed the researching reading and plan by next week. For assignment two I want to have understood the brief by next week’. 

In this way If you break each assignment down into parts of a process that you can enter each part into your calendar and tick them off as you reach. This strategy makes it is easier to juggle many assignments at once. 

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