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  • Top Tips For Remote Learning with Overleaf

    Posted by Kate on September 10, 2020

    Remote learning can be very different from sitting in a lecture theatre or classroom. Whilst remote learning gives you a lot of flexibility, it’s important to ensure you have the right learning space, frame of mind and routine to make your learning experience a good one.

    As you venture into a new school year, you might be looking at getting ahead of the game and working differently, or just thinking about the adjustments you will need to make. We’ve gathered together our top tips to help you as you adapt to remote learning.

    1. Easily share your thesis or report with your supervisor (when you're ready!)

    At the right time, you can share your thesis or report with your teacher/tutor using your +1 collaborator (included in your free account). You can also switch their access to read-only if you need to, or remove them from your project entirely (use with caution!).

    2. Focus your time

    Set aside time to proactively work on your thesis...eliminate distractions, turn off that TV, disconnect from Twitter—unless you’re following @Overleaf!

    3. Use assignment templates

    Choose from one of thousands of templates on Overleaf to get started, or use one that your teacher has provided. If your teacher has shared the template via link-sharing, you can make a private copy of the assignment template by going to the Overleaf menu (top left) and clicking on “copy project”.

    4. Check if your institution offers free premium subscriptions

    Check to see if your institution has signed up to provide you with a premium subscription—you can find our list of institutional partners here. If you don’t see your institution on the list, and are interested in your institution setting up an institutional subscription, just let us know!

    5. Identify your productive periods

    Identify when you are at your most productive: we all have a certain rhythm throughout the day, and if you can identify the times when you tend to do your best writing or research, schedule those slots into your calendar!

    6. Start as you mean to go on

    Bad habits can be hard to break, so it's good to start as you mean to go on! One example is in picking a good reference manager (see next point), and ensuring you have clean, easy-to-reference citations, with a good .bib structure. If you're new to bibliographies, why not check out our on demand webinar on Working with Bibliographies for some top tips!

    7. Use tools to help

    Overleaf works well when combined with other tools and services you might already be using. If you're just getting started, here are some to take a look at:

    • Detexify - quickly find the LaTeX command for the symbol you need, simply by drawing it!
    • Tables Generator - easily create LaTeX tables with their online generator, that you can paste into Overleaf!
    • Writefull - correct your grammar, vocabulary, punctuation, and more. Writefull is aimed specifically at academic writing, and they've created a browser extension specifically for use with Overleaf!
    • Use a reference manager with Overleaf! You can use any reference manager that can export a .bib file, such as Papers, Endnote, JabRef or Refworks, or if you're on one of our premium plans, use one of our direct integrations with Mendeley or Zotero to import and sync your .bib file directly.
    • Work offline by using our Dropbox/Github/Git integration to sync a local copy of your prejects (premium users only).

    8. Use tags

    Use tags to keep track of your assignment status, for example “need to complete”, “under review”, “submitted”, so you can see at a glance what you need to work on.

    9. Use sections or placeholders

    Section out your work, or use placeholders, to save yourself from getting distracted by jumping from text copy to tables to images. Focus on one element for a set period of time, and use our new file outline feature when you want to navigate to a new section.

    10. Set yourself goals

    Set yourself achievable goals...maybe you could aim to write one chapter a week? Or 500 words per week?

    Whatever you feel comfortable with, if you set yourself a target to keep writing a chunk evey week, you'll have written your report/thesis/masterpiece in no time :)

    11. Clean up errors as you go!

    Clean up LaTeX errors as you go! There is nothing worse than the sight of 10, 50 or even 100 errors sitting there waiting for you to sort them out, especially when a deadline is looming. Do it as you go in bite-size pieces!

    12. Keep in touch

    Keep in touch, and communicate regularly with your teachers/tutors. Use the review feature in Overleaf to ask questions on specific project sections as comments for your teachers, or the chat feature to talk generally about your assignment or homework.

    13. Focus in bite-size pieces

    Following up from point 10, if you have a goal of writing 500 words per week, you don't have to do that all in one go! Work in short bursts (one hour or less), and then go and do something else...unless you’re really on a roll!

    14. Celebrate your successes

    If you set yourself a goal and achieve it (no matter how small)—celebrate! This will help you focus on and retain your sense of accomplishment, and spur you on to do more!

    15. Don't Panic!

    If you make a mistake, don’t panic! Use our history feature to revert back to a previous version (up to 24 hours for free accounts, unlimited for premium subscriptions).

    And finally, if you've been working for hours without getting anywhere, and aren't sure what to do...go get some sleep :) Your mind will keep thinking on the problem, and you'll be able to approach it fresh the next day, usually with a solution already forming!

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