To help myself and others, I’ve created a list of ways we can stay self-motivated for online classes this semester as we navigate learning from our homes. If you’re a university or TAFE student, recently you may have been told that the semester will become entirely online due to current events (Covid-19). It’s a surreal feeling to have to spend my last semester at university from home. My school is modern and exciting, with amazing study spaces and facilities. It’s a shame I won’t get to see it again. But it’s also for the best. If you study online or recently have had your study switched to online mode, then this post is for you.
1. Set up a designated study space
The prospect of attending classes from a bed is exciting, but it also doesn’t give your mind a clear focus. Is my bed for sleeping or is it for being on my laptop? It’s important to separate the two. Prepare for concentrating on work by finding a place to call your own. If your family are at home, put yourself in a different room.
Your study space can be made to feel homely or cozy, such as by placing a candle, photo frame, or small plant on your desk or table. Whether it is a desk, the dining table, or kitchen bench. This space should limit distractions and encourage work.
2. Understand your new online course structure
With the current ongoing changes, make sure you stay up-to-date with your school and how the subjects may be changed/affected. For example, my school ‘paused’ for 1 week while they prepared to move online. Now all tasks and assignments have been pushed back 1 week. However, to make up for it, we lose our ‘study week’ at the end of the term and instead go straight into exams. Your school might teach missed work later in the semester.
Everywhere is different so be sure to check your emails and get any queries answered. There may be a lot of new information to take in, such as software to be used for live classes, and changes in group assignments. Highlight or write down important changes so you are aware of what you need to now do to prepare.
3. Use a study planner to schedule tasks, assignments, exams, readings and more
If you’re the type of person that uses planners and to-do lists to stay self-motivated and get things done, then this is a no-brainer. Particularly if your subjects are going through changes, update due-dates and write down what you need to do before online class. Take note of the study weeks and aim to get ahead or catch up on work during this time.
4. Stick to the same weekly schedule
When you’re scheduling tasks such as studying or preparing for class, you may opt to try and do these at the same times each week. At a time when we have decreased stability and are at home all day, this is one way that you can create some order.
If you have a live class at midday, do your class preparations (such as required readings, note-taking) that morning. This way, you’re focusing your workload in the same day as class, instead of having all your subjects’ work scattered throughout the week. This may also help you maintain a work/life balance, such as creating an at-home workout routine you can do at the same times each week. And you’ll still have time to catch up on your favourite Netflix or Stan shows afterwards.
5. Work in time blocks
Another way to stay self-motivated for online classes is through time blocking. Time-blocking is a common idea to help with productivity. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is start. However, once you start, you’ll normally find a groove and keep working.
Time-blocking is dedicating a set amount of time to a task and focusing solely on it. Focus on a new task after each time block or take a short break. Do this multiple times in 1 day and you’ve got a productive calendar day. By creating time-blocks for different tasks, you allow yourself to focus on one goal at a time.
6. Use productivity apps to block distractions
Particularly when you’re time-blocking and working away, it’s imperative to not self-sabotage. This is normally unintentional, through being distracted by social media, calls, or needing to check emails. The good news is, you’re not alone.
We can still keep our phones on us without getting distracted through a range of productivity apps. For example, the Offtime app blocks distracting apps and communications for the duration your study. Apps like this encourage focus on the task you need to do.
7. Take breaks
All the strategies mentioned are a helpful way to stay self-motivated this semester by having the recourses to learn and study for school. Although, it’s just as important to reward yourself by taking breaks to avoid burnout. Whether it’s a short coffee break, or a well-deserved 1-hour lunch break, it’s in your hands to be compassionate to yourself.
Implementing all these points can help you stay self-motivated this semester, but self-motivation also comes from within. Some days we might have to force ourselves to get work done, or we may be so unmotivated that re-arranging your tasks and schedule might be the best option.
Just remember, we’re all this together. It’s not just a big change for students that can no longer attend their classes physically. It’s also a change for the universities and TAFEs, the lecturers, the tutors, the small businesses that relied on students who bought their coffees daily. We need to make the most of the situation and look at any benefits that come from it. For me, it’s that I no longer need to commute 1 hour to and 1 hour from class. So, let’s get self-motivated for online classes!