We know that you are experiencing transitions in your learning right now. We have created this guide to help you settle into a routine for academic work.
You may notice that your organization needs to change at home. If you are finding that you are doing more of your schoolwork on an electronic device than you used to, it may be easier to keep things organized in a digital notebook. Your teachers may have recommended a digital note-taking app for you, but if they haven’t and you are looking for one, free apps that we like are Microsoft OneNote, Evernote, or Google Keep.
Use a Calendar
Tracking the due dates of your assignments will help too. You might have a calendar built into your school’s Learning Management System (LMS) like Canvas or Schoology. If you do, there are ways to import those calendars into your computer or phone calendar.
If you don’t have access to an LMS, we recommend making a list of your assignments and due dates and putting those dates into a paper or digital calendar.
Multitasking can be really tempting when you are taking classes from behind a computer screen. We encourage you to try to avoid multitasking! Whether your school day classes are meeting as a large group or sending out individual assignments to complete, you will retain more knowledge if you give your full attention to the schoolwork in front of you. You will also find that you complete your assignments much more quickly if you aren’t trying to do two things at once.
Taking breaks, when possible, can also help you avoid multitasking. If you have a set of tasks to complete, try to give yourself 5- to 10-minute breaks every hour. If your school’s e-learning schedule allows for it, try to take a five-minute break between classes. Knowing you have a break coming up can help you push through when you feel fatigued.
Make the Most of Online Class Sessions During the School Day
Find out how your teacher wants you to ask questions. If you are learning in Zoom or Canvas Conferences, there is a chat feature that your teacher has likely set up for you. Use that to ask questions. If you are learning in Zoom, there is also a feature to raise your hand so that your teacher can see that you have a question you want to ask. If your teacher assigns you to breakout rooms in Zoom, there is also a feature that will let you call your teacher with a question, if your group has one during your breakout room time.
No matter which platform your school is using, make sure you close distracting tabs, apps, and notifications on your computer, and set your phone to Do Not Disturb. Keep taking notes the same way you were taking notes in your classroom. If you weren’t taking notes before, this is a great time to get in the habit of doing that! If you are watching content that was pre-recorded for you, make sure you watch it at its regular speed, not sped up. Research indicates that watching things at faster speeds actually makes it harder to retain information.
Create a Schedule
It’s important to recognize that your day-to-day life is different now. You are not seeing many of the people in your life on a regular basis, and you aren’t attending your regular activities. Creating a daily schedule can help you stay motivated to do your schoolwork, keep you engaged in your hobbies, and help you connect with the people in your life. For each day, write out what you plan to do for school, for self-care, and for connecting with your friends. Make sure you mark out when you will:
- be in class
- complete school assignments
- get in physical activity
- connect with your friends
- read, play a game, or do some other non-school activity
Each of these plays an integral role in maintaining a healthy and productive life.
Recreate Your Normal Study Routines
Think about how you normally do your schoolwork and try to recreate your normal study habits as much as possible.
- If you usually study outside of the house around other people, see if you can recreate that at home by studying at a table where other members of your household are around.
- If you normally study somewhere where there is background noise or music, try a white noise app or some low-level music.
- If you always study in groups, schedule Zoom or FaceTime study sessions with friends.
- If you are used to having tight timelines for your work and are now finding yourself without that, think about how to arrange your schedule to create deadlines for yourself.
Finding ways to shift your normal routines to an at-home or digital setting maximizes your productivity.
Connect With Your Friends and Loved Ones
Even though we can’t have in-person time with everyone we might want to right now, staying connected with friends and loved one is very important. You can do that by scheduling video calls with friends and family, using Zoom, FaceTime, Facebook video, or Google Hangouts to visit with a group of friends, collaborate with classmates on schoolwork, or even play games. You can schedule an online fitness activity with a friend. You can create a virtual book club with your friends. There are lots of ways to stay connected with the people in your life, so be creative!