How An Astronaut’s Experience Can Enable Us To Study Better From Home

Most of us are going into week 2 of studying and working remotely. Obviously, we humans are not made to stay in a confined space for a long time. That’s why it’s even more important to be deliberate about how we go about our daily lives. Here at Polar, we’re working on a tool to enable remote studying and knowledge management. We did want to take some time, however, to look at what else we can do to optimize our time at home.

In the subsequent post, we summarize key learnings from an astronaut’s experience in space. Back in 2015 / 2016, Scott Kelly spent nearly a year in space living on the ISS. In an interview with the New York Times, he admits it “wasn’t always easy but I learned some things during my time up there”. His experience clearly shows that there is a way to make this productive.

Follow a routine

“Maintaining a plan will help you adjust to a different environment”, says Kelly. “On the space station, my time was scheduled tightly, from the moment I woke up to when I went to sleep”.

Now that classes are remote, it’s easier to let a regular schedule slip. We see it ourselves. For example, the gym is closed and of course it’s harder to work out at home. However, keeping a set schedule will prevent us from slipping into a world where we end up only sitting on the couch, smoking weed, and eating unhealthy food. Hell, while you’re at it, this might be a good time to incorporate some good habits into your daily routine, like meditation or the Wim Hof method. And if you need some motivation, we have just the right book for you to get started.

Pace yourself

“When you are living and working in the same place for days on end, work can have a way of taking over everything if you let it”, Kelly argues. “Living in space, I deliberately paced myself because I knew I was in it for the long haul.”

There are many different ways to achieve that - reading a book, calling friends, or simply taking a nap. We see it ourselves all the time. There is always one more thing that needs to be done, always one additional discussion to be had. However, a refreshed mind is much more useful than an overworked and stressed one. So make sure you pace yourself. On the flip side, make sure you don’t “pace yourself” too much. It’s interesting how people typically only state “it’s a marathon, not a sprint” to argue for more comfort, not of sustained excellence. If you want to achieve all your dreams, you simply have to put in the time. Of course while pacing yourself ;)

Spent time outside (while keeping social distance)

One of the main advantages of living in the Bay Area is nature. Obviously, with every passing day, it’s becoming harder for me to spend time outside. But while it’s still possible, make sure you go out for walks and get some fresh air. Of course while maintaining the necessary social distance. In fact, while you’re at it, you might want to consider wearing a mask, even if just makeshift. There is early indication that masks are a key part in fighting the spreading of the virus. So, do go outside. And be reasonable about it.

Focus on hobbies

Duh. This is obvious but we tend to forget it in times of stress (like finals… or a pandemic). Usually, reading is a good hobby to pick up. Now you might argue you’re already reading a lot for school (and simplifying your reading and information management with Polar ;) ). That’s ok. Pick something else. I recently picked up cooking again. Whatever it is, make sure it gives you the timeout you need from your studies

Start journaling

NASA discovered that keeping a journal is one of the most effective activities to keep us sane. Interesting, huh? “Even if you don’t wind up writing a book based on your journal like I did, writing about your days will help put your experiences in perspective and let you look back later on what this unique time in history has meant”, Kelly shares. There are many different versions of journaling out there. I’ve been doing my own version for over 10 years and absolutely love it. While you’re at it, definitely add affirmations to it. Then go out and kick butt achieving those goals you tell yourself during the affirmations. Well, stay inside and achieve those goals ;)

Take time to connect

“Isolation is damaging not only to our mental health, but to our physical health as well, especially our immune system”, Kelly warns. Make sure you regularly connect with loved ones and close friends. Now might even be a good time to reconnect with this one person you’ve lost contact with a while back… or reconnect with your ex you still think of. Melissa, how are you doing…? ;)

Listen to expert voices

And finally… listen to experts. “Living in space taught me a lot about the importance of trusting the advice of people who knew more than I did about their subjects”, Kelly shares. Given how much misinformation is actively being spread these days about the coronavirus (did you hear how garlic can prevent the spread of coronavirus?), make sure you listen to people with authority in the subject.

Posted on: 30 Mar 2020

Read. Learn. Study remotely.

A powerful knowledge manager for web pages, textbooks, PDFs, to read and study remotely.

Supports tagging, annotation, highlighting, reading progress, and makes it effortless to remember what you've learned. By yourself or in groups.