Seven tips for learning from home

Tatiana Lamoureux Gauvin, course lecturer at the Desautels Faculty of Management, offers seven tips to help you be at the top of your game for remote learning.

As a student, you might be used to studying at home, but this was usually between in-person classes and interactions with friends. Learning 100% from home might be completely new for you, not mentioning the challenges of being alone, with much fewer social interactions than usual. This will be a difficult period for all, but here are a few tips to help you keep your sanity, and succeed for the rest of the semester.

Dedicate a workspace in your home

The first step to learning from home is setting up a space somewhere that can be only used for work so that when you are there, you know you are working. You also need to set boundaries by making it clear to other people in your house so that, when they see you there, they know you are working and not to bother you.

Create and maintain a routine

As much as possible, try to mimic your routine from before the current situation. Here are a few steps you can take to help set up and maintain a routine:

  1. Put an alarm on in the morning, get dressed, and put on a pot of coffee.
  2. Make yourself a study schedule, with breaks to reward yourself for completing certain tasks.
  3. Make sure to integrate fixed break times in your routine—why not go for a quick walk to breathe in some fresh air while you’re at it?
  4. If you have pets, integrate a dedicated playtime into your routine. (I’m speaking from experience here: with three cats, there’s always at least one asking for my attention. By having a dedicated “cat break”, it makes it easier for me to ignore them during my working time.)
  5. Set daily and weekly goals. At the end of the day or week, celebrate your wins! Make a list of everything you have accomplished.


Take advantage of this extra time at home to build a healthy exercising habit. As university students, this can be hard during the semester, so now is your chance.

Gyms are currently closed, but there are many online websites that offer daily workouts—and many of them are free. Through a quick search, I found a helpful yoga/pilates video which I do alongside my own shadowboxing and kickboxing; only 30 minutes per day and it makes a huge difference in my energy levels.

Maintain social contacts

Social connections are extremely important for our psychological wellbeing. Some of you might be lucky enough to live with other people, but, whether you are or not, I encourage you to pick up the phone and call your loved ones more often than you usually do. Why not integrate one phone call or video chat into your routine per day?

Remember that all your classmates, fellow McGillians, and colleagues are going through the exact same thing as you right now. Why not stay in touch with them through a virtual 5 à 7? A Zoom date to get together and share your tips and tricks?

Adopt a growth mindset

Some of you might be anxious or nervous about learning online for the first time. Having a growth mindset in this situation would be to believe you are able to learn and adapt to your new environment—just because you have never done it before does not mean that you can’t do it. Instead of a threat, see this as an amazing opportunity to learn new skills in a safe environment. I have no doubt that these skills will be helpful in your career, too.

Use the Forest app

This is a new discovery for me. Forest is a very simple app, but may be helpful for those of you that are distracted by your phone every two seconds.

Basically, you have to grow a tree, but whenever you look at your phone before it is fully grown, the tree dies and you have to start again. The longer you spend away from your phone, the more your tree grows.

Reach out to your instructor

We won’t bite, I promise. It may seem to you that your question is too small or not important enough to send an email or set up a Zoom meeting for it but, had you been in class, you would have asked. Try to keep that connection. You can reach your instructor by email or Zoom, but you could also post on the discussion board on myCourses or even use the chat function on myCourses to send them a private message. Don’t ever feel like you are bothering your instructor; you’re not.

Want to learn more?

There are plenty more websites available to help you transition to remote learning. Here are a few worth visiting:

Please refer to McGill University’s Work Remotely guide to familiarize yourself with the tools and resources available to you.

Image by DarkWorkX from Pixabay 

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