7 Ways Adjust to Online Classes
Recently, UVic announced that all classes would be transitioning away from in-person instruction due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Right now UVic students in all faculties are now working to complete their classes online at home, while practicing social distancing.
While some students take easily to studying in the comfort of home, others find online classes more arduous than an 8am lecture.
For some, studying in the peace and quiet of home with a pet for company is the best way to end the term.
For others, the loneliness, lack of interaction with their professors, and all-too-easy access to distractions make online courses difficult. If you fall into the latter group like me, don’t worry. As the daughter of two parents who work from home who’s taken her fair share of online classes, here are my tips for staying motivated and focused while working from home.
1. Calendar block class time.
To the best of your ability, attempt to work on your online classes when you would normally go to classes in-person. You’ve been doing this class every Wednesday from 9-12, why disrupt your schedule more by changing the time?
If you want to sleep in, that’s fine (after all, it’s on your schedule!) but make sure you’re still devoting the same number of hours to each class. If you want to sleep in, schedule class from 10-1.
2. Give yourself time to adjust.
When students experience large schedule disruptions, we tend to go immediately into “weekend mode.” It’s a huge shift from having a million things to do on-campus to being expected to stay home all day.
Realize that it may take you a few days to adjust to your new schedule but don’t sabotage yourself by staying up all night just because you don’t have to be on-campus for 9am attendance. Be patient and kind to yourself, but don’t ruin your chances for success.
3. Communicate with your professors.
With class expectations changing, don’t be afraid to reach out to your professors. Many are scheduling virtual office hours or are available to discuss syllabus changes over video or phone calls. Some of the stress from changing to online courses comes from the uncertainty of what’s being asked of you; ask all of your questions, take notes, and you’ll start to feel better.
4. Dress for class.
As tempting as it is to stay in your pajamas all day, it doesn’t help. Take it from my parents, who both work from home; they maintain a consistent routine of getting dressed in “real” clothes, indulging in their morning caffeine of choice, and then getting to work, every single day without fail.
Give yourself an hour in the morning like you usually would to brush your teeth, get dressed, and have a coffee or tea. Putting on some clothes without toothpaste stains makes a world of difference for your productivity, and keeping routines consistent will add normalcy, right when you need it most.
5. Make your study space ideal.
If you don’t usually study at home, ask yourself, why not? If it’s because your home is filled with people, communicate with roommates and family about when you don’t want to be disturbed. If it’s because you’re too distracted when you’re alone, study with a friend at the kitchen table to stay accountable.
If it’s because you can’t stop checking your phone, leave it in another room (or trying using a study incentive app like Forest). If it’s because your room is too cluttered to concentrate, spend a few hours cleaning and organizing.
In any case, it’s important to give yourself the gift of a clean, organized workspace when working from home, no matter where in your home you choose to work. Try and put everything you need in one place: take your pens out of your backpack and put them in a mug on your desk, make sure your textbooks are close at hand, and grab a favorite beverage. If your space feels productive, you will too.
6. Draw boundaries with the news.
These are extraordinary circumstances, and it’s natural to want to know every single development up to the minute. After all, it’s not just a distant epidemic; it’s now a pressing global issue that’s affecting all of us. Regardless, you wouldn’t be checking the news during your classes (I hope), so try not to let obsessive news-reading take over.
By practicing social distancing, complying with local or federal regulations, and washing your hands, you’re already doing your part to help keep others and yourself safe. Aside from that, you don’t need to introduce distressing dispatches from Italy into your brain space while you’re trying to study for your French exam. Allow yourself to check the news once or twice a day, and that’s it. I mean it!
7. Practice self-care.
Taking care of your body and your mental health right now is more important than ever. Check in with yourself if you’re feeling anxious and try to identify the root of the problem.
If it’s because you don’t understand a class concept, ask a classmate over text or reach out to your professor. If you’re feeling generalized anxiety, take a study break and go for a walk or bike ride to clear your head.
Facetime a friend and don’t talk about COVID-19. Bake cookies one night. Brush up on an old hobby, meditate, or call your parents. In scary times like these especially, your mental health should be your top priority. For more tips on managing COVID-19-related anxiety, check out UVic Counselling’s website.
8. Remember that this is temporary.
If you’re in the middle of your degree, the current situation could throw your plans for next term into turmoil. If you’re at the end of your degree like I am, you could feel like you’ve been robbed of your final term.
Try to remember that everything you’re missing can happen at a later date, even celebrating that you completed your bachelor’s degree. If what you’re missing right now is important to you, it will happen at some point.
Concentrate on your studies, and let the subject matter, whether it’s art history, biochem, or psychology, overpower any negative thoughts. Let your studies be a safe refuge from panic and fear. Relish the opportunity to be home, peacefully, with time to spare for everything you need to accomplish. Breathe deeply, stay calm, focus on your courses, and of course: wash your hands.