Spring quarter was a jarring transition. You used to walk up the steps to Classroom Unit 2, now you’re rolling out of bed and joining a 200 person Zoom call. With fall classes to be conducted remotely, this is our new reality as students. Now is the time to test out some new habits for being a good remote learner.

Create a weekly schedule

Creating a realistic weekly schedule can help you manage your time, especially now when “time” just doesn’t seem real. 

  • Try out different formats. Maybe Google Calendar or printing out free online planner templates will be your savior this fall. If you’re feeling creative, bullet journaling is cathartic and lets you customize your schedule. 

TIP: Don’t just include final assignment deadlines, add incremental goals. For example, if your essay is due on Friday, write down a personal deadline to do the outline by Tuesday.

Graphic by Kora Fortun.
Try out new technologies

We are living on our devices these days, so why not experiment with new productivity tools?

  • If you like simple to-do lists, use Google Keep to sync your lists across devices.
  • If you need a bit of extra motivation, try out Habitica, a gamified version of your to-do list. You can create daily or weekly tasks alongside your to-do list and earn experience points and gold coins as you check off tasks. You can use your rewards to buy character outfits, go on quests, and more. There are many more features like guilds or challenges for you to explore.
Studying efficiently

Expect that you’ll need to revamp your study habits this fall. Test different techniques and see what works best for you in this new environment. 

  • Incorporate breaks into your study schedule. Rest your eyes to recharge and stand up to get your blood flowing again.

TIP: Try the Pomodoro Technique. Set a timer on your phone and work for 25 minutes, then take a 5 minute break. That’s one pomodoro. After 4 pomodoros, take a 30 minute break. 

Take any opportunity to connect with other students

It will take a bit of extra effort to avoid feelings of isolation this fall, which means branching out and connecting in new ways.

  • Does your class or major have a Discord server? Now may be the time to try it out.
  • If you haven’t utilized small group tutoring in the past, try it for the first few weeks of the quarter. You may not need it to pass the class, but you might find a new friend or two!
  • Lots of student organizations are adapting their programming and going strong online. Check out CHP’s guide to student organizations here.
Illustration by Kora Fortun.
Give yourself an energy boost 
  • If you find yourself drifting off in class or melting into your chair, a bit of sugar might put the pep back in your step. Be careful to consume sugar slowly, though. While a steady, constant flow of glucose can boost your mood and focus, consuming a lot of sugar at once will likely make you crash and feel even less productive. 
    • TIP: Instead of bingeing sweets before class, sip on some juice or nibble on trail mix as you work.
  • Sitting at your desk all day, you may need reminders to stay hydrated or take a snack break. Try apps like Plant Nanny, which prompts you to drink water, or set up your phone’s reminders.
Handling the burnout

Online learning can be emotionally and mentally draining, worsening the burnout you already feel by week 6 or 7, but there are long-term and daily practices you can undertake to help manage burnout.

  • Take time to reevaluate your goals, both in and out of school — maybe this quarter you want to allot six hours a week to developing a new hobby.
  • Intentionally schedule free time. Stick it on your calendar just like another meeting. Try to use the time to do something you don’t do at any other point during the day, like getting exercise or doing a puzzle, instead of just going on social media.

TIP: Reward yourself before you do the work. Some study tips suggest you earn a treat after you’ve done the reading, but try putting your rewards up front as a motivation boost before tackling that big assignment.