Published: April 3, 2020

Many of our class and study routines have been disrupted with the recent transition to remote learning. If you're finding it challenging to stay motivated right now, you're not alone. Here are some tips to help you get things done and succeed in your classes.

Practice the study cycle

The "study cycle" is an effective strategy that can help you get back into (or start) a routine and be more efficient with your time. There are four steps to the cycle:

  1. Before class, preview the material you'll be covering. Skim the chapter, pay attention to headings and bold words, review chapter summaries and prepare any questions you have.
  2. Attend your class—take notes and ask questions.
  3. Review your notes as soon as possible after class.
  4. Schedule time in your week to study the material again. Review your notes, handouts and any other readings.

Repeat this process for each of your classes to ensure you are better prepared for finals.

Set up a virtual study group

Study groups can help you stay connected with classmates and improve academic performance. Set up a regular time to meet on a virtual meeting platform, like Zoom or Google Hangouts. Share resources and material with Google Drive, Docs, Sheets and other Google suite tools. Take turns with members in your study group to create an outline or agenda before you meet to help each study session stay on track.

Try the Pomodoro study technique

Taking short breaks during study sessions can help you stay more focused and retain information better. Try the Pomodoro Technique to build short breaks into your study sessions:

  1. Choose a task to work on—maybe it's reading a chapter, writing an outline or the first several pages for a paper or solving a set of problems.
  2. Put your phone away and eliminate as many distractions as possible.
  3. Set a timer for 25 minutes. Focus on the task until the timer goes off.
  4. Once the timer goes off, reset it for five minutes and do whatever you'd like during this time. Check your phone, get a snack, take a short walk—whatever gives your brain a break!
  5. Reset your timer for 25 minutes and repeat the process.

Stay balanced

Take care of yourself to stay balanced and keep your energy up. Aim to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night, eat regular and balanced meals and make time for physical activity. Taking regular breaks when studying or working on projects is a great way to recharge and avoid burnout.

Ask for help

If you're stuck on a problem or a concept discussed in class, ask for help. Ask a classmate or visit virtual office hours or help labs.

Take advantage of other free virtual resources:

  • ASAP Tutoring is available for first-year students and Bear Creek students. Sessions are now held via Zoom, through their app Penji
  • Economics offers a free "drop-in" tutoring lab online via Zoom. Check the updated tutoring schedule to check availability.
  • The MARC (Mathematics Academic Resource Center) is offering tutoring via Zoom. Check the updated tutoring schedule.
  • The Physics Help Room is shifting to remote sessions via Zoom. You can access the full schedule and corresponding Zoom links on their Resources and Help page under Physics Help Room.
  • The Writing Center will be offering all sessions online. See instructions for signing up.
  • CU Boulder Libraries will be available via chat, email and phone. Librarians will also be available to meet with students, staff and faculty through Zoom.

Sometimes the hardest part of studying is just getting started. Schedule out time in your week to study, and do your best to get started right away. Having study routines and finding a quiet study spot at home can help you stay focused and motivated with your classes.