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Adjusting Your Study Habits for Online Classes

Illustration of a woman with multiple arms sitting behind a computer and writing in a notebook while holding a laptop, paper, printer, and two books, with a clock behind her.

Avoiding Multitasking

If you do more work on your own and your time is less structured, you might be more tempted to multitask. Research shows that few people can succeed at doing multiple things at once or can switch between tasks quickly.

Some Downsides to Multitasking

  • Assignments take longer. Each time you return to an assignment (from Instagram, for example) you have to get familiar with it, find your spot, remember what you were going to do next, etc.
     
  • You are more likely to make mistakes. Distractions and switching between tasks tire out the brain.
     
  • You will remember less. When your brain is divided, you are less able to commit what you are learning to long-term memory.

Try this Instead

  • Focus on one thing at a time.
  • Take breaks between tasks.

Consider working on a task for 25 minutes, then rewarding yourself with a 5-minute break. This is called the Pomodoro Technique®. More information on this technique can be found at this video (also embedded below) and in our additional tips section. Research suggests this pattern helps achieve better concentration and alleviates "cognitive boredom" in most people. 

Graphic illustrating the different steps of the pomodoro technique: a clipboard with checkmarks, a woman sitting at a computer with a lightbulb over her head, a book with a pencil, the woman doing yoga with an hourglass next to her, the woman back at the computer, and the woman sitting on a blanket painting her nails.