Updated: May 10, 2020
During this quarantine period, I’ve personally been unmotivated to really finish out my semester strong. Being away from college or typical study spaces, and having lectures that I can basically attend at any time of the day has really made college feel optional to me, which is really bad considering myself, and a lot of you all, feel the same and want to do well in your courses. Today, I'll discuss different tips to help you be more productive during your online courses. These tips can apply to any online class during the school year, or even during the summer.
Attend Your Classes At their normal scheduled time
The first mistake I made was not attending my lectures online at their normal time since everything was being recorded and uploaded later. As a result, I wouldn't feel like doing my classes later in the day and I would get super behind and end up piling on five, one-hour long lecture videos each Sunday night. Not a fun time. To avoid this, simply attend your video lectures at the normal time you would go to class in person. Your body should already be used to attending classes at these normal times, so you should do your best to keep your routine consistent. (An exception would be if you are living in a different time zone than where your college is located. For me, Texas and Iowa are in the same time zone, so I had no excuses not to attend my live online classes at their normal time).
Find a space in your house to work that isn't a bedroom
Do not, and I repeat, DO NOT try and do your classes in bed. You will fall back asleep because you get too comfortable. I have a desk in my room that I actually won't use to work on college stuff because it's too close to my bed and TV, and therefore makes it too tempting to be lazy and procrastinate. Instead, I sit in my family's living room with a long table where it's quiet and work in their instead with no distractions. Your environment makes a huge difference when it comes to your focus and limiting distractions. If you find that your room is too comfy, move to a quieter space in the house. Don't be afraid to get crafty and modify spaces to work for you.
Silence and Mute all notifications that aren't school related
Yes, I get that classes are online so we have to use our devices, but it's so easy to say you are listening closely during a lecture, and then be typing away text messages on your phone at the same time. During class time, either delete distracting social apps or games, or mute their notifications so that you won't have your attention diverted while you are trying to get work done. During breaks, feel free of course to turn them back on, but be sure to re-silence them once you are ready to get back to work. I try to only take 20 minute breaks, and one longer hour break around lunch to eat and exercise.
Schedule Video study sessions with your friends
Don't lose touch with your college study groups or friends just because you aren't on campus! Schedule a time once or twice a week to either Skype, Zoom, or Face Time with college peeps and catch up and also study. Trust me when I say you aren't struggling alone when it comes to staying motivated and studying during online course seasons, so find some (focused) friends to rant about to and to also study with. It's a three in one. Socialize, Study, and Vent.
Update your planner at the beginning of each week
Finally, update your planner at the beginning of each week. I got lazy and didn't do this and I almost started to miss assignments because I wouldn't notice they were due until the day of! To prevent this last minute panic, make sure you check your syllabus or online portal each weekend and update your planner and to-do list with deadlines and test dates. The last thing you want to do is miss a major grade assignment and have to retake an online course.
I hope some of these tips will help you make your online courses go by smoother and will help you be more efficient while completing them. They can be a struggle, especially when you are somewhere comfy, like at home with family. But, just remember some of these tips and you can make these classes just a little less tedious!