How can you create the perfect at-home learning space? Start here. 

In the past, getting a degree online meant choosing between a narrow subset of options. In 2024, however, online learning is now a norm for many students, especially those looking to gain new skills or switch career paths. 

But while the rise of online learning has further normalized getting an online degree and learning from home, it isn’t without its challenges, including increased distractions, trouble connecting with peers, and overall boredom. 

To combat finding yourself in a remote learning slump, try these three tips to avoid burnout and help elevate your online learning experience.

1. Declutter your space 

Without the spatial structure of an office or classroom, concentrating on the task at hand can be even more difficult. And without the obligation to be somewhere in person, the temptation to log into class or work from your bed can be all the more alluring. However, creating an organized space to complete your work is a critical first step in ensuring success when learning from home. 

If possible, working from a desk (even one that’s in your bedroom) is ideal. To mimic the feeling of a traditional learning space, adding a calendar or even some personal photos to your desk set-up can recreate the essence of a typical work setting. If you are studying from your bedroom, make sure your room is free of clutter, and your bed is made. Going even further, taking a few minutes out of your morning routine to declutter your space can be a great habit to build. If you start doing this daily, the act of preparing your remote learning space will eventually feel as natural as brushing your teeth. While these may seem like minimal changes, they can make all the difference in your productivity.

While learning from home, it’s also just as important to declutter mentally and digitally as it is physically. This can mean different things for different learners. For example, turning your phone and laptop on “Do Not Disturb” while doing schoolwork is a great way to ensure your brain isn’t running in a million different directions and mentally cluttered with messages to respond to. 

Decluttering your digital space, as your laptop is now your classroom, can also be a major help. Start by archiving old assignments you don’t actively need and organizing school files into distinct folders on your computer. While your LMS, or Learning Management System, will facilitate where you can find and submit assignments, keeping track of your personal copies and files of assignments is a great way to stay organized and ensure academic success. To brush up on other online learning terms like LMS, read our virtual vocabulary blog post.

The Office of Online Student Success at the College of Professional Studies can also serve as a resource to help you navigate the ins and outs of remote learning. By offering a wide range of strategies to help you feel more comfortable in the online environment, OSS is there to provide students with resources that empower them to reach their goals while earning their degree online. 

2. Minimize external distractions

Whether it’s the barking of a dog, the buzzing of a TV, or the calls of a child, learning from home can present many more distractions than the traditional classroom setting. When learning remotely, it’s important to set boundaries with those that you live with to ensure a calm work environment that produces the same levels of productivity you would achieve in person. 

Investing in noise-canceling headphones, closing your bedroom or office door, and communicating with your household that work means work are just a few ways you can do this. 

Additionally, it’s important to limit digital distractions, such as scrolling through social media, texting friends, or engaging in other non-school-related activities. A 2019 study published in the Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning found that the use of technology in class for noneducational purposes was distracting to almost half of students, with 49 percent of students surveyed saying “off-task” technology use was distracting to them. For a refresher on what technology you should be using during online learning, check out our technical requirements guide.

Time-based focus strategies, such as the Pomodoro Technique, a time-management strategy based on 25-minute focused work intervals followed by five-minute breaks, have also proven successful in helping students lock in without distraction. While you might’ve heard of this method before, it’s worth revisiting— researchers at University of California, Irvine found it can take nearly 23 minutes to resume work after an interruption. So, time-blocking might just be your new best bet for minimizing distractions.

While online learning can be filled with distractions of everyday life, it’s important to minimize these distractions as much as possible to maximize the unique benefits of learning from home. Whether you’re a 9-5 working parent, a traveling entrepreneur, or just someone looking to revisit your education, remote learning is a great way to work towards your goals without disrupting your existing life. 

3. Develop a routine

Taking classes online means that you won’t be doing things like walking to class, driving the same route to campus, or beginning your day with some sort of journey that acts as a buffer between your morning and the beginning of your school day. 

While cutting out commuting time is great for time-saving, it’s still important to develop a sense of routine, even if you’re online. If you’re enrolled in one of our many online undergraduate programs, which feature synchronous classes, you can organize your schedule around the times you know you’ll be logged into class. 

For example, if you have class at the same time every Monday morning, it can be tempting to wake up 10 minutes before your lesson starts. However, taking the extra time to wake up 30 minutes earlier to clean your space, make breakfast, and review your to-do list for the class, can not only ensure you feel more prepared and productive but also aid in creating a sense of routine while learning from home. 

Remote learning is the perfect route for those who want to expand their knowledge while also juggling multiple commitments in their lives. There are countless benefits— you can continue working, pursue your side gig, or take care of your family, all while completing a degree. 

At the College of Professional Studies, our online undergraduate programs were designed to fit into your routine, not reroute it. With the addition of some new habits, you can develop a routine that accommodates your existing life, while also serving you on your new educational journey. 

The next time you find yourself in a rut while studying from home, try incorporating these tips into your week— after all, when you’re doing something as significant as getting an education from the comfort of your bedroom, small changes can make a big difference!

To learn more about our online programs, visit our academics page to see how learning from home can work for you.

By Isabel Bekele