Completing your spring semester from home is what’s happening right now. The current national pandemic has upended all of our lives and the stay-at-home orders that many cities and stares are issuing created a new way of being that is unfamiliar to many of us.
There are lots of people who take classes online, but many times those classes are asynchronous (not live) and the format is established before the semester starts. At this point, many colleges and universities decided to go virtual in early march as a way to slow down the spread of COVID-19 and the risk to students, faculty, and staff. While we all appreciate this move toward prevention, it created another set of unintended consequences. Instructors with little to no experience teaching on a virtual platform were thrown into the deep end. Students who learn best in the classroom had to find other ways to effectively grasp information. Social circle and study groups were interrupted.
Now that we’re all working form home for the most part, there are ways to make this work. Although you can’t be on campus, there are a few things you can do to recreate your environment and improve productivity. I made a list of seven. They may not work for everyone all the time, but they will help.
1. Make your bed. While this may no sound productive, it does set the stage for starting your day and going to class. This is particularly important if your work space is in your bedroom. What you are doing is finding ways to separate yourself from your desire to chill.
2. Get dressed. Virtual learning, particularly asynchronous classes or those without video, means you can attend class in your pajamas. However, it doesn’t mean you should. When you get dressed, even if it’s sweats and a t-shirt, puts you in a different frame of mind. It’s not necessarily ‘Fake it to you make it’. It’s more like, ‘Dress the part’.
3. Designate a space to work. Whether you are in your living room, great room, or bedroom, carve out a space where you can set up and learn. This may be challenging depending on your family dynamic, but make an attempt. Should you find yourself working in your bedroom, do not sit on your bed to work. Again, it’s about separation.
4. Create a schedule and post it. Because your family may not be familiar with your class schedule, it helps you and them to create one. For you, this falls along the lines of time management. For your family, this lets them know when you are and are not available. As you stick to your schedule, your family is more likely to, as well. Also, creating routines is helpful. You can’t fully recreate your day, but you can replicate some of the components. In this include study time, helping around the house, and down time.
5. Take advantage of virtual office hours and chat rooms. Being away from campus doesn’t mean you can’t use campus resources. Getting questions answered and clarifying content are even more important now that you’re completing your semester virtually. Just like on campus, your instructor has office hours. Be prepared with your questions and take care of your business. Also, if there is a conflict, request an appointment or inquire about online help/chat rooms.
6. Make time to connect with family, friends, and classmates. Interacting with others is important. It’s called social distancing, not emotional distancing. Use your favorite platform for your study group, to have a watch party, or just chat. We need each other more then ever now, especially if you’re an extrovert.
7. Be kind to yourself and practice self-care. Cut yourself some lack. It takes time to get into a rhythm when things change. Self-care is important. It includes pampering and so much more. It means setting boundaries, managing your expectations, and creating mental and physical safe zones. When and if you need to take breaks and naps. Watch a movie, play a game, or do nothing. Seriously, this change caught so many of us off guard. You don’t have to be productive every minute of every day. Take care.