How To Be Successful At Distance Learning – 8 Tips For Guaranteed Success

Tips for distance learning

Distance learning, also known as remote learning, is quickly becoming the new normal and if you are new to this model of learning, it presents a few challenges. Its hard to stay motivated when your normal routine has been disrupted, and for students in band, having their ensemble experience removed completely can be a tough transition.   To be successful at distance learning, students need to have consistency and accountability, but if taken advantage of correctly, this new normal can be used to jump start your practice routine and get ahead of the competition.

Tips for remote learning

Tip 1: Create a daily routine

Creating a daily routine will help you feel more in control of everything and keep you from getting that “stuck at home” depression.  Maintaining a regular routine is good for your mental health and will help you be more productive.

It is really easy to fall out of the habit of a normal sleep schedule when you don’t have to be at school every day, but keeping your sleep cycle on track is important to your productivity as well as your general well being.  Think about the last time you stayed up really late.  How did you feel the next day?  Tired?  Groggy?  Crabby?  

Having a routine time to wake up and go to bed will help you to be successful even when you are learning on your own.

Tip 2: Have a designated work space

Tips for distance learning

Make sure you have a dedicated work space just for remote learning.  It can be a home office, a space on the kitchen table, or even a corner of your room.  You will need a desk or table and a comfortable chair.  While lounging on the couch with your computer seems like a good idea, its too easy to get distracted if you are trying to work in a place you usually watch TV or play video games.  

This goes for practice too.  Have a dedicated place to practice your instrument with a chair, stand, and metronome.   Having a dedicated space to “work” will make it easier for you to sit down and start your day!

Tip 3: Use a daily planner

Without the structure of going from class to class, it can be difficult to remember all of the assignments you need to complete and when they are due.  Some classes require you to check in at a certain time each day too.  Using a planner will help to keep you organized and prevent you from getting a zero because you forgot to check in or submit an assignment.  

Clever fox makes a great daily planner to keep you organized or if you prefer to go digital, an app like Elisi can be a useful tool.

It can be easy to forget to practice so put it in your daily schedule. Schedule 30 minutes to an hour for practice but make it count by practicing with a plan. Use this printable practice planner or an app like Elisi to plan what you will work on for the week and then each day plan your practice session to accomplish those weekly goals.  

Once you have practiced what you planned out, quit!  It is empowering to know you can now put down your instrument because you have accomplished what you planned for the day!

Tip 4: Dress for work

Tips for distance learning

As tempting as it is, don’t sit around in your pajamas all day.  Pajamas are what you sleep in and wearing them “at school” will encourage you to be lazy all day so get dressed just like you would if you were actually going to school.  Getting dressed will put you in “work” mode and help you to be more productive throughout the day.

Tip 5: Make time for social interaction

This biggest negative impact of remote learning is the social isolation that comes with it.  You are used to seeing your friends at school every day and hanging out on the weekends.  Even though you are not at school every day, you still need to make time for social interaction. 

Once your “work” is done for the day, make time for your mental health by hanging out with your friends using a video app like facetime, google duo, zoom, or skype.

Tip 6: Use blue light glasses

A big part of online learning takes place on the computer.  Staring at a screen all day can make your eyes tired, give you a headache, and make you grumpy in general. Blue light glasses are relatively inexpensive and can make your learning much more enjoyable.  They come in a variety of styles so you can even treat them as a fun accessory! 

Tip 7:  Take frequent breaks

Even with the coolest blue light glasses, staring at a computer screen all day is never a good idea.  Make sure you take frequent breaks to give both your eyes and brain a rest.  If you think about it, you take a short break every time you switch classes at school, so every hour or so, give yourself a 10 minute break.  Go to the kitchen and get a glass of water, stand up and stretch a little, or go for a walk through the neighborhood as part of your lunch break.

Tip 8: Practice Self-care

Your entire routine has shifted so have a little patience with yourself as you are adjusting to the new “normal.”  You may find yourself feeling a little sad and missing your friends and normal routine.  Make sure to take care of yourself so you can continue to be productive and make good grades.

Its hard not to get down when most of your life has suddenly been canceled so taking care of your mental health should be a top priority.  The whole point of this article is staying motivated and being successful, and its hard to stay motivated when you feel down.  So…if your in a funk and feeling a little depressed, try one of these activities to help improve your mood.

Keep a gratitude journal

Try to write down three things you are grateful for every day. Your three things don’t have to be big. I could be as simple as “I am grateful that there was milk in the refrigerator for my cereal” or “I am grateful that I didn’t have to leave the house today because my hair is a hot mess!”

Show compassion

Nothing makes us feel better than doing something for someone else.  Help your parents out by doing the dishes or taking out the trash without being asked.  Volunteer at a food pantry or serving meals to the homeless.  Send a friend or relative a text telling them you are thinking about them, or check on a neighbor and ask if they need anything.  

Stay connected as best as you can

Staying connected with friends when you aren’t attending school daily is difficult but thanks to a variety of free apps, it is possible.  Video chat with friends and family using Facetime, Skype, or Zoom.  Want to video chat between iPhone and android platforms?  Google duo has you covered. You can also use social gaming to play video games with friends online. 


Exercise is a great way to beat the blues and improve your overall health.  You don’t even need a gym to do it.  Do a few jumping jacks or push ups.  Walk on the treadmill if you have one or go on a family hike or walk in the neighborhood.  Learn a new dance on Tiktok or watch a yoga video on YouTube.  Pick an exercise you will enjoy and both your mind and body will thank you.

Make your new normal as “normal” as possible

Routine is your friend.  Stick to a daily schedule and treat your school time the same way you would if you were actually in a school building.  The one advantage of distance learning is that you don’t have as much scheduled down time so you may actually get your work done faster than you would at school, so get up, get your work done, and enjoy your afternoon!

Tips for distance learning