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Starting the School Year Off Right: How to Build a Routine with Online Classes

If you're like me, last spring semester was probably really difficult making the switch to online courses. Some of you may have had to deal with unreliable internet connects, moving back home, or just overall stress with finishing out the year online. Let's be real --- this is not what you signed up for. You’re not alone in your frustration, but hopefully, this year will go smoother than last year.

And if you’re unsure of what to do or how to create a routine, whether it’s living at home, in an apartment, or at the dorms, here are a few tips to help you get through it.

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1. Plan out your class times, due dates, and study times

First of all, with a majority of class-related things being online, it’s so easy to lose track of what you need to get done when you aren’t constantly being reminded in person or by classmates. I would suggest writing out what is due at least two weeks in advance and set reminders. Having everything written out and seeing it every time you open your laptop or glance at your calendar is a great way to make sure you don’t fall behind. 

And along with this, creating a schedule of when you’re going to study helps greatly, especially if you’re spending a lot of time in your room and not on campus. Set aside a few hours of your day and dedicate that time to only working on your classes. It’s even better if you can determine which class you want to study for at a certain time (ex. from noon to 1:30 every Wednesday you work on chemistry.)

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2. Take advantage of your mornings

In the instance that you don’t have an 8AM class that you have to be up for, or in the case that all your classes meet in the afternoon or don’t meet at all, I can’t stress how important it is to actually start your day. I know as college students a lot of us like to stay up late and sleep in, but even if it’s getting up a few hours before you need to do something, waking up at a decent time helps set your whole day in motion.

For me, most of my classes aren’t until the afternoon and I only have about two zoom calls a week, but I still get up at 10AM to have breakfast and to just take the morning to relax. Life feels a lot less stressful when you aren’t waking up and running to make your first class.

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3. Hobbies are your new best friend

I recommend picking up a hobby or incorporating something new into your routine. Some options can include embroidery, painting/drawing, starting a new show, working on your cooking skills, reading, starting new podcasts, knitting/crocheting, yoga (on YouTube), or even puzzles.

Since quarantine started, I’ve embroidered about two different fabrics, bought a yoga mat, done a puzzle, baked a bunch, and hand-knit myself a blanket. Just find something fun and easy you can do in your spare time. You never know, you could find something you really like.

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4. Self-care 

It’s so important to take care of yourself. Most of us are going to be secluded to only a few places --- home, work, specific campus buildings --- so the option to go out isn’t really there anymore. Self-care applies to both keeping your body physically healthy. That means actively social distancing, not going out to restaurants and bars, and preventing the spread of COVID-19. It also means keeping your body mentally healthy as well. This includes meditating, having a glass of wine, watching a movie, or creating a skincare routine. Get your friends involved by planning out some activity nights. You guys can try follow-along painting, or even do PowerPoint presentations about the most absurd topics. 

If you can find a way to create a routine or some semblance of structure during these hectic times, your semester is guaranteed to go a lot smoother. Everyone is different and the tips above are just a few to help you get started. Focus on how you function as a person and tailor your schedule to best fit you. 

Brianne is a junior at the University of Iowa majoring in Human Physiology and minoring in French. In addition to writing for Her Campus, Brianne is also a member of the Campus Activities Board. Brianne enjoys traveling, rewatching New Girl, drinking coffee, and yelling while she watches hockey games among other sports. She hopes to share her personal experiences, learn new things from others, and build connections.
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