Essential Tips for Navigating Online Classes

It’s hard to believe that we have been remote learning for almost a year now. Adapting to online courses was definitely a challenge for everyone, considering how abrupt the transition was. Everything felt disorganized, uncertain, and honestly, a bit lonely. Now being in what is nearly the third semester of virtual college, I have used my expeirnces to implement small changes that help build a little structure into my day and make things easier to manage. Although navigating remote learning as a college student can feel overwhelming, I have discovered some essential parts of my daily routine that have made notable differences in my productivity and mood throughout the day.

  1. 1. Energy Management

    Of course, time management is an essential part of staying on top of your work. But what I have found to be even more helpful is energy management. Energy management is the mindfulness of how your mental and physical energy levels fluctuate throughout the day. Everyone’s body functions differently. Some are early risers while others are night owls. By paying attention to these behavior patterns and reflecting on how you typically feel at different times of day, you can plan out your schedule and approach your priorites more effectively. If your caffeine wears off in the evening and you start feeling tired, thats probably not the best time to take an online exam or complete an important assignment. 

    I, for example, have found that I’m most energized in the morning but experience a bit of a mid-day slump around 4 pm. Using energy management, I have started to organize my day so that I get my most important tasks done in the morning when I’m feeling productive. This incldues anything that requires a lot of attntion or focus like watching lectures or studying for an exam. Once I start feeling mentally drained, usually in the late afternoon, I'l take a break to exercise or do a different activity that will help refocus my energy. I have found that my lack of productivity is often linked to feeling tired and unmotivated. It's important to listen to be aware of when your mind and body need a break.

  2. 2. Find a Workspace

    One of the challengees of remote learning is the dramatic change of environment. Although you can’t replicate lecture halls and campus study spaces at home, having a designated workspace can really help to get you into the right mindset. I have used trial and error find a study spot in my house that works best for me. I learned the hard way that studying on my bed makes me feel unproductive and, if its late at night, cause me to fall asleep while studying. I learned the importance of seperating the space you use to unwind from the one that you work, even if its just two different spots in your bedroom. I have opted for working at my dinner room table during the day as a way of having a designated workspace. Although it may be a bit unconventional study space, I find that moving to a different environment to complete work helps maintain structure in your day. It’s all about making the most of the space you have!

  3. 3. Write Everything Down

    Woman with planner

    Being a college student requires a lot of independence and self-discipline, especailly in an online format. It often feels like it’s just you and your syllabi trying to make it through the semester. With asynchronous courses and multiple conflicting deadlines, it can be hard to keep track of everything in your head. Writing things down and having some kind of planning system is a necessity. I personally love using a planner to help visualize both my weekly and monhtly schedules by writing in due dates, events, and meetings. I also use daily to-do lists as a way of keeping myself accountable for completing tasks. If you prefer planning virtually, you can use something as simple as the notes app on your phone to make to-do lists and Google calendar to plan long term responsibilities.

  4. 4. Take a Break

    Working and studying from home, especially under social distancing guidelines, can feel very isolating. It often feels like there’s no escape from the cycle of deadlines. Before the pandemic, I used to rely on the natural breaks in my day, such as commuting to and from school or getting lunch with friends, as a way of balancing out my priorities with maintaing wellness. However, it can be hard to find ways build breaks into your day when you’re at home all day. I know I used to feel guilty for taking a break, even though it was what my mind and body needed.

    I try to actively build those breaks into my routine by planning at least one activity for myself a day, even if it’s something as simple as facetiming a friend. Taking a step back from you work can make the biggest difference in clearing your mind and really makes the day a little less overwhelming. Some quick and fun activites include making a healthy snack, exercising, talking to your loved ones, watching an episode of your favorite show, or engaging in a hobby you enjoy.

  5. 5. Listen to Music

    Spotify on iPhone

    I love discovering new music and making playlists. I have found that it’s a fun and simple way to add a little variety to my studying routine. I like to make different personalized playlists, but Spotify also has a great selection of playlists they have curated for any mood. I really enjoy listening to more chill music like Lo-Fi beats as relaxing background noise while studying. I do also have playlists for boosting my mood, comfort, and motivation!