Being productive in uncertainty
- Take time to adjust. Allow yourself time to make the change. Making the change from one learning style to another is really challenging and it may take a few weeks to make the full transition. During this change, allow yourself to transition slowly and properly, rather than trying to force yourself into a new schedule suddenly.
- Pick a schedule and settle into it. Even if there aren’t any class times or familiar due dates, pick times for yourself to complete assignments. If you need to, find people to keep you accountable to your schedule! Even though you don’t have classes that you are going to everyday that you have to be prepared for, having your time scheduled out will help you to stay on top of due dates.
- On that note, schedule breaks, self-care, and fun excursions. Just because you are online schooling now doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun! In fact, you actually have more flexibility to do the things that you want to do now than you did before!
- Find people to do homework with or just grab coffee (pending a shelter-in-place order)! Even if you are more introverted, people are necessary for avoiding stagnancy. Whether it is just that one person that you like to spend time with or a group of people, seek out those relationships intentionally because they will help you to be more productive!
- Reach out to your professors and other academic resources early and often. Since you won’t have in-person communications with them, it is even more important that you intentionally reach out with any questions that you have. The ASC also offers online tutoring, which will become a huge asset now that in-person classes are cancelled.
- Write down task lists in multiple areas so that nothing gets missed! You won’t have teachers reminding you in class of assignments every day. Maybe even give one of those lists to a friend to keep you accountable!
- Once you have your schedule figured out, make sure to allow for some impulsiveness! Randomly decide to study at a park or call someone that you may not normally talk to. It will help to keep things light-hearted and interesting. Plus, now you have flexibility in your schedule to get assignments done early and do something fun!
- Develop a playlist! Music will be your best friend, particularly if you suddenly have a lot of alone time. Take some time to find music that you love and play it in the background as a break from monotonous silence.
- Also take moments of silence. These can be times where you contemplate life, who you are, the direction you want to go in, and anything else. Really it is taking time for your deep, pent-up thoughts to be released. Sometimes playing an instrument or doing something artistic can help, because it offers opportunities of release. Learn to meditate if that helps!
- Develop a hobby! You now have a lot of time that you aren’t spending in class, so be productive with that time! Think through things that you have always wanted to do and start now that you have all of the extra time.
- “Prune” your computer. Some of the best plants need the best care. The same can be said for your computer, laptop, or tablet that you use for school. So before you shout “Bonzai!” and jump into this online semester, consider how you might best optimize your device so that both you and your electronic ally are more efficient. Some ways to make your computer more streamlined for school might be removing unnecessary files, upgrading to the latest operating system, or simply re-organizing your desktop. Other strategies for helping yourself be more focused while using your device might include moving distracting apps or games to another folder or removing links to Youtube on your browser homepage. Things like this can be especially helpful for those of us who are easily distracted.
- Save those moments: Those “A-ha!” moments we sometimes have in class when we grasp a concept or idea will hopefully continue to happen in our online classes. In the interest of being prepared for these moments, we can start by typing or writing down our notes as we would for an in-person class. However, we have even more options available to us for documenting our class material when it comes to online learning, such as taking screenshots or reviewing a recording of the session.
- A quick comment about the chat section: The chat window on Zoom and other webcam services can be a big help for communicating in online classes, especially when the instructor needs to post something for everyone to read. In many ways, it can be your best friend, especially when your mic decides not to cooperate. However, get too chummy with the chat box and all of a sudden you might be disrupting class. Although, if you use it just right, it can be a helpful way to circumnavigate the technical difficulties of online learning.
- Dress to Impress… Kinda. Since your teachers might want to use webcams in your online classes, dressing appropriately for the occasion can be a really useful thing. Not only am I more confident and mentally prepared when I’m dressed and ready to go, but sitting in bed while wearing pajamas wouldn’t be as respectful to the class. Also consider finding a well lit location with as few distractions in the background as possible. The more professional you feel the better. That being said, one of the joys of online classes is that they can be a more chill and relaxing learning environment.
- Classmates —> Friends: One great thing to do with online classes is to talk about that particular class session afterwards with some peers by text or by email. Not only does this help reinforce the material into your memory, but it also allows you to connect with classmates and maybe even make some great friends.
As cliche as it might sound, we really are all in this together and are all going through these changes. As you figure things out for yourself, share those tips and tricks with each other! There is no standard list of tips that will work for absolutely everyone, so take this list and make it your own.
Authors: Nate Van Dyke & Timothy Myracle