How to Stay Productive with School Work During Quarantine

Students face a lot of challenges in school even when times are good. As the COVID-19 pandemic and resultant school shutdowns have stretched through the summer and into the fall semester, a lot of students are wondering how to stay productive during quarantine.

Here at Addition Financial, we meet with parents and students every day, and they all talk about the subject of how to be productive with school work as the whole family figures out how to work and study from home.

We reached out to some educational experts and did some of our own research. Here are some pointers that can help you have a successful school year in quarantine.

Figure Out Your Work Environment

If you live alone, then it may be easy to create a work environment that works for you. However, most students are sharing living space with their families or roommates. That means you may all be sharing space and resources – and you’ll need to address each person’s needs if you want to have a successful school year.

Dr. Deb Geller, the Associate Dean of Students at UCLA, suggests that students focus on two things that can affect productivity. The first is noise. She says:

“If you are in a home with limited quiet space, make plans early for your live classes and your exams.”

You may need to coordinate quiet times with others who live with you. It may also be worth working outside or using earbuds or noise-canceling headphones to help you focus on your school work.

Dr. Geller also mentioned something that we know is looming large for some students: access to technology. If you don’t have the technology you need to access online classes and resources, ask your school if they have assistance programs or loaner technology. You may be able to get what you need. This is true even if your family has some technology but you’re sharing it. You need the right tools to stay productive in school.

Remember That Online School is Still School

One of the most common mistakes students make is thinking of remote learning as being fundamentally different from in-person learning. While there are obvious differences, online school is still school – and you need to have the same mindset about it that you would have for attending school in person.

Allen Koh is the CEO of Cardinal Education. He told us:

“With online classes, students should show the same dedication if the course were in person. Though students can complete their work whenever they want, they cannot put it off indefinitely. Make a study plan. Pick a time throughout the day and sit in a quiet place to study and eliminate distractions.”

Many of our experts mentioned the importance of scheduling. You should plan your time and, if you’re required to attend online meetings and classes, make sure to schedule them as appointments in your calendar. That way, you won’t miss them. You may also want to schedule each task or assignment to ensure you stay on track.

Use Available Resources

Studying at home may be difficult for some students, particularly those who feel they don’t have access to the same resources and guidance they would have at school.

Megan Mwaura, the co-creator of, talked about the availability of online resources and the importance of using them.

“It's surprising how quick we are to adjust almost everything online, even school assessment is made easier using online tools and apps to keep students actively learning and productive. This is especially true for students in high school levels.”

We suggest the following:

  • Visit your school’s website and familiarize yourself with all available resources. If you don’t know how to use them, review any tutorials or instructions ahead of time to make sure you can take advantage of them.
  • If you don’t see a resource you need, ask! Send an email or ask your instructor if the resource is available.
  • Talk to your teachers and instructors and don’t be afraid to reach out to them if you have questions or feel like you’re struggling.
  • Seek additional resources online if you think they would be helpful. You might be surprised by how many free tools you can find with a quick Google search or by browsing through the app store.

Your job as a student is to get your work done – but you don’t need to do it alone. Asking for help may be necessary. Remember that your teachers and administrators are there to help students and don’t be afraid to reach out to them.

Stay Organized

Even professional adults can struggle with organization – and it can be especially difficult to keep everything organized when you’re studying at home.

Elizabeth Pyle, M.Ed. is the President of College Success Plan. She suggests:

“The key is starting the semester organized. Set yourself up for success especially if you need to transition quickly. Make your computer an organized central hub and create a good planner. Have folders for all classes and put anything related to the class in there throughout the semester.”

Keep in mind that you may need to create subfolders when you have a project or complex assignment. The key is to keep everything filed in a way that works for you, so that you can find what you need when you need it.

On a related note, it will also help to keep your study space clean and neat. We’re living in stressful times and nobody needs the added stress of being unable to locate important school materials. Make sure everything is where you can find it and you’ll be able to put your focus on your studies.

Take our Online Student Personality quiz!

Choose an Accountability Partner

When you’re in the classroom, you have teachers and other students to hold you accountable for what you do. Studying at home requires a different kind of accountability. Some students may naturally have the discipline to complete their work on time. Others may need help.

Jennifer Fonseca, M.Ed. of Palm Beach Atlantic University told us:

“Creating one’s own study group is a great way for extroverts to remain engaged. Use apps like GroupMe, Whats App or Zoom to meet with others and go over material together.”

We would add that even introverts need to find a way to stay connected with other students and hold one another accountable. If you don’t like the idea of participating in a study group, find one person you trust to be your accountability partner. You can start each school day by sharing your schedule and assignments, and then check in at the end of the day to confirm you did what you needed to do.

Take Care of Yourself

Productivity isn’t just about the hours you spend working. You’ll be better able to focus and get your assignments done if you take care of your physical and emotional needs when you’re not working.

Stacy L. Peazant, an Academic and Research Administrator at the University of Florida, suggests that students studying at home do the following things:

  • Eat healthy meals
  • Get enough sleep and try to stick to a sleep schedule (go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every day)
  • Stay connected with others – fellow students, teachers, family members and friends
  • Get outdoors every day and get some sunshine

We would add that it’s also necessary to get some exercise every day. You don’t need to do an intense cardio workout daily, but you should get out for a walk every day. If the weather’s not good, then you can always find a workout video on YouTube and do that instead.

You will find that getting enough sleep, eating healthy meals and staying emotionally connected will make it possible for you to focus on your schoolwork when you need to. Don’t skimp on self-care. It’s just as important as getting a good education.

Ask for Help When You Need It

Our final piece of advice is a simple one: don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s undeniable that studying from home is challenging. It requires self-discipline and focus – that may be easier for some students than it is for others.

Many of us are struggling with the loneliness and isolation of quarantine. Your school probably has virtual counseling available and if that doesn’t appeal to you, you can still reach out to a teacher, friend or family member for help.

There’s nothing wrong with needing help – and there’s nothing wrong with asking for it. We are living in a time that is challenging for all of us. Asking for help when you need it will help you stay productive with your school work and have a successful school year even if the circumstances are less than ideal.

Every student is wondering how to stay productive with school work. The tips we have included here will help you focus and get your work done as you study from home.

Do you need help paying for school? Click here to learn about Addition Financial’s student loan program.

The content provided here is not legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment advice. Please consult with legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment professionals based on your specific needs or questions you may have. We do not make any guarantees as to accuracy or completeness of this information, do not support any third-party companies, products, or services described here, and take no liability or legal obligations for your use of this information.


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