5 Strategies for Success

Adapt your study habits

There are a number of things you can do as a remote learner to support your success, like setting study goals or trying new and different study strategies, some of which you might be doing already! One strategy you may want to try is effective listening while note-taking during your video lectures, live or recorded.

You can learn anything, but you may need to change your study habits in order to perform in line with your goals. This is because learning is a cycle that requires adaptation and reflection. Give yourself opportunity to reflect on which habits are going smoothly and which might need more work. Change anything that you feel isn’t working for you, and then reflect on that again when you have tried it.

Not sure how to adapt your study habits? Try taking a Learning Strategy Inventory!


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Manage your time

Overall, effective time management requires that you know what you have to do and how much time you have to do it. This means you need to know your priorities, be organized with both your time and resources, and have a plan for getting your stuff done—avoid procrastination at all costs.

Give yourself structure with a to-do list and by setting and maintaining a schedule. This includes creating a routine, planning class and study time, as well as setting a time for meals, breaks, etc. It can be challenging to maintain a structured schedule while doing remote learning, since there may be fewer regular check ins and you’ll be operating independently, but there are many ways you can boost your motivation, like having clear goals, rewarding yourself for achieving them, checking in with someone else who also set a schedule, and building in time for breaks.

Divide up your workload into manageable chunks. Break down classes into assignments and assignments into smaller pieces and then check tasks off one-by-one. However, don’t do too many things at once—focus on one thing at a time. Multitasking while studying has been shown to lower productivity and knowledge retention. In order to focus on one task at a time, create a list based on your priorities and work accordingly. There are several tools and apps that exist for time management and concentration; test them out, then reflect and adapt until you find one that works for you.


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Tune out the noise

To stay focused on coursework, limit distractions by silencing your devices and closing non-essential tabs in your browser, including non-course related chat windows. Create a designated work environment in your living space, devote structured times of day to coursework, and keep it consistent. Do your best to avoid working from your bed, since your work environment and your rest environment should be separate.

Get your sleep! Sleep is instrumental to the learning process since getting enough sleep is essential for your brain to be able to retain and process information. Getting enough sleep is often overlooked as one of the most essential strategies for supporting learning and development.

You may also want to reward yourself with a break or treat for doing what you need to do, as that can help keep you focused and feeling positive—a positive mindset can help you learn!


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Communicating entirely through email or online forums may feel foreign at first; just be sure to keep it respectful and relay your question or message as effectively as possible (e.g., via the preferred method indicated by your instructor). You should ask for help and clarification if you need it, and chances are you’re not the only one with the same question.

You can also turn to other students in your course to create virtual study groups and connect through Zoom, Microsoft Teams or on myCourses discussion boards. You can often ask other students questions before turning to your instructor and use the time to hold each other accountable to work on collaborative assignments or discuss readings.


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Stay connected

Making the switch from in-class to remote learning can leave many students feeling isolated, especially those who find in-person interaction with their peers, professors, and colleagues an important source of energy and motivation. Though you may now be spending more time learning and studying independently, it is important to remember you are still a member of the McGill, Montreal, and Global community (as well as many others!) and there are several ways to remain connected to the resources and support available to you.


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McGill University is on land which has long served as a site of meeting and exchange amongst Indigenous peoples, including the Haudenosaunee and Anishinabeg nations. We acknowledge and thank the diverse Indigenous people whose footsteps have marked this territory on which peoples of the world now gather.

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