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With school back in session for round two—and what feels like round two of March 2020—I’m sure we could all use a little encouragement for the the first two weeks of online classes. Here are some tips to help set you up for a happy and successful semester!

Stay organized

What I like to do is put everything—and I mean literally everything—into my Google Calendar. Block out time for all of your classes, clubs, and other commitments throughout the semester. This will give you a general idea of what your schedule looks like. I like to also block out time for studying and social activities. For example, if I have a midterm coming up, I might block out one to two hour periods leading up to test day dedicated to studying. Or if I’m grabbing lunch with a friend, I’ll throw that in my calendar too. These events will probably be added on a weekly or even daily basis as things come up, but I’ve found that it helps to physically see how my time will be distributed throughout the week. I also use the Tasks function to keep track of assignments and due dates, crossing them off when I finish them.

Find your balance

As with most things in life, finding a good balance is essential when it comes to managing work. Work hard, but also leave time for rest and relaxation. Their coexistence allows for optimal enjoyment and efficiency of both. Giving yourself breaks will make the grind more productive. In turn, focusing when you’re working will make breaks feel much more rewarding. No matter how swamped I get with schoolwork, I always make time for swimming or going to the gym because exercise is my way of destressing. I find that taking an hour out of my day to be active makes me feel much better when I inevitably have to return to my work. Prioritize your health and wellbeing and make sure to set aside time to take care of yourself, whatever that means for you. 

Start off strong

Every semester, without fail, I am severely burnt out by the end—I’d say “Dead Week” really captures the spirit well. I know this about myself, so I always make sure to put in extra effort at the beginning of the semester to cushion for later on down the road. I make sure to keep up with lectures and attend all my discussions and labs. I complete assignments, taking the time to truly understand the material. I know it’s hard, coming off of fall semester (I’m admittedly still knocked out even after the month-long break)—especially now that we’re beginning classes in remote instruction—but I promise that your future self will thank you. In my experience, classes allow for some leniency, usually in the form of assignment drops, so if you stay on top of things initially, you’ll be able to utilize these in times of desperation. During the final month last semester, I was able to slip up a little as work was piling on because I made sure to be on top of my work at the beginning.

Karen Li

UC Berkeley '24

Karen is a sophomore studying computer science. In her free time, she enjoys swimming, reading, journaling, hanging out with her dog, and binging TV shows. She strives to reach others through her writing and hopes to write meaningful pieces that someone, somewhere can relate to or learn from.
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