Anna Schultz-Girl On Computer Stress

Succeeding Academically: COVID-19 Edition

Many of us can agree that it is rather difficult to stay productive when we’re forced to stay at home for extended periods of time. Quarantine and stay at home orders make it convenient for us to think that we’re on a break, rather than our usual work and school schedules, leading to a general sense of lost purpose. However, with the dreaded finals season right around the corner, it’s crucial to get academically organized in order to avoid a last minute panic. Here are some tips to help cope with a new mode of education amidst a global pandemic:

  1. 1. Having A Routine is Key

    white and black alarm clock with hand on gray table

    Having a routine will, at least to an extent, reinforce the kind of structure we had in our lives pre-pandemic era. This routine doesn’t have to be too strict; just have a general schedule. For example, I wake up at around 8 a.m., shower, eat breakfast, and then get to work by 10 a.m. Do not just roll out of bed onto Webex! You will fall asleep afterward.

  2. 2. Utilize A System to Keep Track of Exam Dates and Due Dates

    Keep using your planner or bullet journal if you already use one, and if you don’t have a system, now is the perfect time to set something up! Lately, I have discovered the Notion software, and it is phenomenal in its ability to enable a beautiful, all-in-one kind of workspace for notes, tasks, goals and planning. Furthermore, Notion has an advanced personal plan that is free ($4 per month otherwise) for students with an .edu email. It has an attractive interface that’s also user-friendly. I’m absolutely obsessed and highly recommend it!

  3. 3. Create A Separate Workspace

    laptop on desk with himalayan salt lamp

    You’ve probably heard this before, but do not study where you sleep! There is ample evidence to suggest that blending your work and sleep spaces into one is detrimental to the quality of your work as well as your sleep. Have a separate workspace and make it as inviting as possible: declutter the space, light your favorite scented candle, use cute stationery, and listen to your favorite playlist. (I recommend this lo-fi hip hop playlist or The Theory Of Everything soundtrack. (It is calming and conducive to focusing.)

  4. 4. Minimize Distractions When Trying to Focus on Online Classes, Assignments and Exams

    Anna Schultz-Hands With Cell Phone

    Put your phone in another room altogether, or if you do choose to keep it around, make use of apps like Forest to help you concentrate. An online lecturing format means that it’s easier than ever to open other tabs to Netflix, Facebook, Tumblr, etc. StayFocusd is a chrome extension that increases productivity by limiting your time on time-wasting sites. More importantly, let your family members know that you’re going to be doing work so that they don’t barge in and disturb you. Another thing that helps me focus on assignments (when I’m not in online lectures) are following study-with-me videos on Youtube by TheStrive Studies! Not only are these soothing, but they also make me feel super accomplished and productive!

  5. 5. Treat Online Lectures as if They’re In-Person Lectures

    "you got this" on a letter board

    Pretend that you’re in class with a strict no cell-phone policy. Go full-screen, utilize headphones, and tune your audio to the highest possible volume you can handle. Pay attention to the professor (shouldn’t be too difficult if you follow #4 above), and ask questions in the available chatbox. For those of us with social anxiety, we no longer need to worry about raising our hands to ask questions in person, so receiving help should be much easier. For me personally, I tend to zone out completely in lectures (and in turn lose motivation) if I don’t know at least a little bit about the topic that’s going to be discussed. What I do then is glance at posted slides/textbook/notes etc. about an hour or two before a lecture. Being attentive in lectures becomes so much easier once I do this.

  6. 6. Space Out Your School-Related Work Time

    Don’t attempt to watch all lectures one after the other, or to do all your assignments in one sitting. Take breaks in between to avoid burnout. Information is best retained through breaks and spaced repetition. Utilize these breaks to exercise, eat, FaceTime friends, or engage in hobbies and creative activities.

  7. 7. For Open-Note Exams, Make Study Sheets

    a hand holds a pen writing on sheets of paper on a wooden desk. there's a coffee cup and a notebook in front of it.

    Making organized study sheets will save you so much time when you’re actually taking the exam. No scrambling to flip through textbook pages or messy notebook writings.

  8. 8. Never Forget About General Health - Mental and Physical

    fruit smoothie in glass with metal straw

     Make sure you’re staying safe and healthy by practicing social-distancing, moving as much you can and aiming for a balance in terms of nutrition and sleep.

While school is important and should always be a priority, it is also important to realize that a global pandemic is a lot to live through for each and every one of us. Never feel ashamed of yourself for not being productive enough. Sometimes, it’s okay to cut yourself a break and to simply exist without doing much related to school. Especially given that we’re college students, being forced back into our homes can be suffocating, to say the least, bringing down motivation levels to an all-time low. Don’t be too hard on yourself and reward yourself - if you want to binge-watch a season you’ve been looking forward to, do so by all means. If you want to bake chocolate chip cookies, bake them and eat them yourself too! The point is, it’s okay to be struggling, to feel frustrated, and not at your peak level of productivity. If you or a fellow student is struggling, Rutgers CAPS is now offering phone sessions for therapy and counseling. As this unique and unprecedented semester comes to an end, know that everything will be okay and that we will make it through this fight stronger and better than ever.