Remote Study Tips: #2

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Set Goals and Rewards—Hold Yourself to Them.

No matter where you happen to be studying, you’re bound to be faced with distractions. How do Berkeley undergrads navigate through them and stay on course? They keep the finish line in sight by setting goals for themselves:


“Without goals, it’s easier to be distracted. Have about three goals you want to achieve throughout the day and keep yourself accountable to it. You cannot do everything at once, so focus on the most important ones first.”

Simon Guo, Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences majors | Studying remotely in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Simon Guo & Vanessa Luna

Simon Guo left, Vanessa Luna right


“Set rewards for yourself when making goals.”

Vanessa Luna, Political Science major, Chicano Studies minor | Studying remotely in Santa Paula, CA


With daily and weekly goals, you can map out clear steps to what you need to accomplish each day. One classic approach you might try is the Pomodoro method, where you alternate between 25 minutes of work and 5 minutes of rest. Or get creative and make your own system! 

A goal could be to write a minimum word count or read a certain amount of pages with a reward to respond to pending messages from friends. Maybe a goal is to check social media only at set times, with the natural reward of scheduled study breaks to check your favorite channels. 

Goals and rewards will be unique to your situation and learning style, so experiment with what works best for you.

Tips for Setting Practical Goals

  • begin each week by reviewing your short and long term deadlines 
  • be specific with goals
  • write your goals down, either by hand or in a program (maybe use an app)
  • keep track of your priorities at the end of each day 
  • set reminders on your phone or other device
  • match the value of the reward to the size of the goal

Goals help you study with more intention and purpose, and also give you a way to keep track of your progress. That feeling of accomplishment after completing what you set out to do can motivate you just as much as the prospect of a reward.

Want another way to get into a studying headspace and ward off distractions? See what Berkeley students have to say about maintaining your study space in our next study tip.

Start at the beginning with Remote Study Tips: #1.

Nancy Duong is a Vietnamese-American first-generation transfer student majoring in English.