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Summer 2020 was a strange and different one compared to the previous summers. It didn’t feel like a regular summer, but it felt like it was 5 minutes long because of how fast it flew by. One thing I learned this summer was coming to terms with the reality of things and making the most of the present. 

As the summer came to an end, I came to terms that I was going to begin my sophomore year remotely and virtually from across the globe. With my new mantra of ‘making the most of the present moment,’ I realized I was on the better end of everything going on right now and decided to approach the semester with a positive mindset. Here, I have a list of back to school tips that help me get the most out of virtual learning. 

  • Reduce Distractions 

It is very easy to turn your camera off, zone out, and scroll through your Instagram, instead of focusing in class, sitting in your room in a virtual classroom of 400 students. It is best to keep your phone out of sight during class to avoid this distraction. This habit is something I’m yet to master. Like you put your phone away in your back during an in-person lecture, trying using this method for your virtual classes.

The relationship between time spent on your phone during class and your grades is not linear. Try to limit the use of additional distractions like phones until you are finished with work. Set up a quiet, clutter-free workspace that you feel comfortable in to reduce maximum distractions. 

  • Brain Breaks to Boost Productivity

With almost everything happening virtually, it is hard to find yourself without increased screen time. With classes, club meetings, study dates, hanging out with friends all happening online, it is important to take a break from the screen. Higher screen time levels have been associated with various health harms, so encourage yourself to take those breaks. 

In between classes and assignments, make sure to take out time for brain breaks. Brain breaks are mental breaks that help you relax, stay focused, and energized. Scientifically, these brain breaks help you carry blood and oxygen to the brain and provide the necessary time to solidify your learning and increase your productivity. A healthy brain break is an activity or any form of physical exercise- this helps reduce stress and prevents anxiety. A quick meditation exercise, yoga, cooking, baking, painting are other examples of brain breaks you could try.

  • Schedules and planners

The most vital tip is to schedule your day. Set up a wakeup time, sleep time, study time, eat time- plan out everything. Having a lack of routine makes it harder to focus. Allow for some flexibility in the schedule. Adding tasks into your schedule will keep you on track towards completing them as you have allotted a specific time to it.

Get out your pretty 2020 planners and create checklists to stay on top of your game. Ticking off tasks will provide you with a sense of accomplishment and motivate you to tick off more responsibilities from your to-do list, allowing you to ace virtual learning.

  • Virtual Friends and Study Dates: 

No doubt, making friends in virtual classes is much harder than in-person classes. However, there are several ways you can still make friends: make the most of recitations, breakout rooms, and the chatbox function on Zoom. Offering to make a groupchat for your class is a great way for people to talk outside of class, to help you when you need it and to study together. 

On the other hand, studying with friends that are not in your classes can help too. Organize Zoom study dates with coffee to replicate the study dates at Peets in Kimmel you would have had if you were on campus. Seeing someone else work motivates you to work. And catching up with a friend is always a great time! Push each other to hustle and be there for each other, even virtually. 

Manika is a sophomore majoring in Media, Culture and Communication and minoring in the Business of Media at NYU. While her heart lies in the sand dunes of Dubai, she couldn’t be any happier to live in the city that never sleeps, New York City. Manika has the biggest sweet tooth that always welcomes desserts so if she’s not found chasing pretty pink sunset skies, she can be found digging into desserts! When she isn’t found doing either of these, she’s definitely snuggled up in bed rewatching Friends for the millionth time! Reach out to her on instagram for comments, suggestions or simply say hi @manikaa.p
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