Everything about this upcoming school year is new. Most of us students have been planted in a completely different school environment... home.
In theory, everything should go smoothly; it's basically school but in the comfort of your room — right? Well yes, but with all the pros come some serious cons: lack of motivation, procrastination, loneliness, boredom, stress, etc.
But do not be discouraged — here's how to tackle online school, from a current online school student. I'll go over staying motivated, routines, supplies, mental health, social life, physical activity, and more.
Let's start with the basics: The necessary supplies to survive 2020 zoom school
A Planner. A real-life, in-person, physical planner. Not your phone, computer, or tablet, you need the real thing. Here's why: you are already staring at your screen long enough, so be a little kind to yourself and take a break from the screen. Having a physical planner is a lot easier to manage than an online calendar, you will be able to stay organized with school work and any other responsibilities you have. The satisfaction of physically crossing off things from your to-do list is also a great plus.
A Reusable Water Bottle. Listen you are sitting in long classes, I know from experience how easy it is to forget to drink water, but you do not want to get dehydrated. Get yourself a reusable water bottle and make sure that it is on your desk and you are drinking water. Being dehydrated will not help you with your studies.
Blue Light Glasses. Blue light glasses filter out blue light that is emitted from screens, aka the laptop you stare at for hours on end. The blue light that your screen gives off can lead to eyestrain and fatigue, since virtual school does increase your screen time my advice is to save your eyes and yourself from any future headaches.
Creating a Routine
I'm not going to lay out exactly what my school routine is and force you to follow exactly what I do, because routines need to be personalized. Everyone's mind works differently and some things that work for me may not be useful to you, but I will give you some tips on how to organize your day.
Wake up at the same time every weekday. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday make it a priority to get your body accustomed to school. This will help you set your sleeping schedule that is probably messed up from the 6-month break we had.
Set clear dates and times for your workouts and meals. When I don't set clear times for things throughout my day I end up spending either way too much time or too little time on them. Specifying times with yourselves will definitely increase your productiveness throughout the day.
Don't over jam your schedule. School is already enough so when you go back to-do lists make them reasonable. If you make a super long to-do list you will end up stressing yourself out trying to complete everything or become discouraged when by the end of the day you still have not finished.
Balancing Mental Health, Social Life and Physical Activity
All three of those things go hand in hand, to truly fulfill and stay happy you can't sacrifice any of those three. School is already a major cause of decreasing mental health, and adding the isolation and lack of motivation that inevitably comes to many students when switched to online does not help.
Struggling with mental health during school is not something rare, but I know it's different for each student, whether you have struggled with mental health in the past, now is not the time to forget to take care of yourself. Do not overwork yourself, your energy will not last forever, and when it passes you will be more stressed and anxious than before. If, you are having an off day, take that mental health day. Turn off your phone, get back into a hobby, find anything that brings you joy. Remember school is stressful, so you cannot take too many days off or else the stress will get worse. Learn to find the difference between wanting a break and needing one.
With quarantine and online school, we are more isolated than ever. Regular school gave us the luxury of socializing with our peers every day, but now through a screen, it is hard to stay connected with your classmates. Whenever possible make plans to see your friends; Go on daily walks if they live nearby, have outdoor study dates, weekends picnic brunches. Even face-timing or calling your friends just to catch up will create true relations and communications that you may not even notice you are missing.
Physical activity is the easiest to forget about, trust me I know. The laziness of the long summer probably still lingers, but setting time apart to work out is necessary. This does not have to a huge exertion, but just enough to where you are getting up and working your muscles after spending all that time on Zoom calls. Anything from neighborhood runs to pilates will not only create endorphins but will give you energy, increase your sleep quality, help with brain health and memory, overall making you happier.
Finally, Staying Motivated
I don't want to be super repetitive when I tell you the obvious. Don't overwork yourself, organize your time and assignments, take breaks, but I've mentioned that all before. Here are some different tactics that I use and that do really work for me.
First, keep a journal. Don't think of it as a diary or huge responsibility, but it will 100% come in handy. Use it to rant about your day, explain your goals, make to-do lists, and goal lists. Although it seems incredibly cheesy, having a place to jot down any thoughts will help release a lot of built-up stress and anxiety from the school year, therefore keeping you motivated.
Think of what all your hard work is for. Again cheesy, but it truly does help. There are days when you are so unmotivated you don't even want to look at your lists of assignments. Instead of waiting until you have to complete an assignment get it over with! Remember your goals for the future. As harsh as this sounds you aren't going to reach them if you just lie around. Hard work does have great rewards and remembering that is sometimes all you need to keep yourself motivated.
That's all the wisdom I have for now. Remember you aren't the only ones struggling with online school, we are all going through it together.
Good luck on a great school year!