The ongoing pandemic has changed the way thousands of students study across the world. Computer screens have replaced blackboards and online learning has now become the norm.  

Many students have struggled with the reality of learning from home for an extended period, with many arguing that remote working can hamper creativity and productivity. But is this true?

The reality is much more complicated. A 2012 study from the Journal of Economic Behaviour and Organisation suggests that while a work-from-home environment can make you worse at some tasks, your overall creativity can be enhanced.  

The study found that people performed mundane, repetitive tasks better in a controlled office/classroom environment compared to a less structured atmosphere at home. On the other hand, they performed much better in a work-from-home atmosphere when faced with creative tasks.

How can remote learning boost creativity?

While the study doesn’t dive into why a work-from-home environment boosts creativity, we can look deeper into its psychological definition to find give us some insight. As per the American Psychological Association, you can define creativity as applying your professional knowledge to solve problems in new and exciting ways.

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Thus, to be creative, you might have to step out of your comfort zone or break patterns and conventional structures, which is easier done at home than within a controlled environment. Another 2017 research publication from Science Daily validates the argument that structured knowledge and working can hinder your creativity.

How can you improve your general productivity?

While you can become more creative in a remote learning environment, you may struggle to  be as productive on more menial, everyday tasks. The 2012 study emphasised that you might find ordinary distractions at your home, such as doing your laundry or talking on the phone, more interesting than completing a boring assignment.

General productivity can also take a hit if you lack a set timetable or workspace at your home. Hence, if you are taking online classes, the following suggestions might help boost your productivity.

Break up your daily routine

Many research studies show that your productivity can improve with strategically placed breaks throughout the day. Take advantage of an open environment at home and take breaks when you need them.

You can further benefit from your breaks if you get some fresh air during them too. A paper published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology suggests that a walk in nature can facilitate the free flow of ideas.

Take virtual coffee breaks

While it’s easier to hang out with your friends when you are at school, you must also ensure that you are not falling short of human connection when you are studying from your home.

Taking virtual coffee breaks with your classmates and friends can help you spend quality time with them even when you are not physically with them. You can also set up regular video calls to ensure you do not miss out on interacting with them.

Plan your day ahead

You know your deadlines and working in a way that suits you best. A remote learning environment can be a great chance to set up a work plan that suits you instead of adhering to pre-set schedules.

For example, if you are less likely to be distracted in the morning, schedule your ‘boring’ assignments or classes then. You should also have a dedicated workspace that is clutter-free to help you focus better.

If you are used to conventional classroom teaching, it’s understandable that online learning might not be easy for you. The novelty of study-from-home might wear off quickly and you might find your attention wandering.

The key to embracing the change is to recognise that and prepare for it. For example, if you are easily distracted by social media notifications, mute all your accounts before sitting down for a class.

A study-from-home learning format can bring a lot of benefits, like increased flexibility. Understanding the challenges associated with online learning and preparing for them in advance can help you focus on the benefits.