Online classes are just as — if not more — taxing as face-to-face classes. You have to face the screen for hours on end, and you don’t have the privilege of quickly asking questions. Instead of the quick and casual conversations in the class, everything is now structured; wait for your turn, keep your mic on mute, and send a private message for questions. Plus, there’s no more room for the fun class banter.
It’s hard to stay productive, as well. You have a lot of distractions. You can discreetly check the Twitter notifications on your phone or open another tab to read up on Grammy winner predictions. On top of all that, Zoom fatigue is real, and sometimes you just can’t be bothered to fire up your laptop and get things done.
So, to avoid falling into the trap of procrastination, here are a few ways you can stay productive during your online semester.
Create a Study Space
Having a study space increases your motivation to do things. When you used to attend classes, your brain is hard-wired to compartmentalize study and rest. When you are in school, surrounded by students, books, and boards, your brain readies itself for information and thinking. But when you are at home, surrounded by your bed, cozy couches, and snacks, your brain lets go and relaxes.
If you do not create a clear line between the space for rest and the space for studying at home, your brain just automatically thinks that it is always leisure time.
So pull up Pinterest boards of study spaces and create your own school nook. Choose an area of the house with a high-speed Internet connection and bright light. Natural light is advisable, but you can always buy lamps. Invest in a comfortable chair and table—this is the most underrated part of the home office. An ergonomic chair and table make sure there are no back pains to distract you as you do your homework.
When you have a lot of requirements for your senior high school classes, it’s tempting to multitask. You’ll say that you’ll table this math homework because it’s just too hard, and start an essay for your social science class. However, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Studies show that multitasking can actually decrease your productivity, so it’s much better to finish one task before starting another.
Focus on one assignment at a time, whether that’s sending your professor an email, reading the designated chapters for your literature class, or finishing your art project. Isn’t it much better to get things out of the way and dedicate your full attention to each task?
Online classes open the floodgates to many distractions because, unlike in-person classes, there’s no one to tell you to focus. You can easily be distracted by news of your favorite artist dropping a surprise album or give in to gossip with your classmates.
If you’re easily distracted, try the Pomodoro method. This time management technique divides work into 25-minute intervals with a 5-minute break in between. During the 25-minute work session, you’re not allowed to check your phone, get snacks, nothing—you are forced to focus on the task at hand.
Before you know it, you’re done with your assignment! The Pomodoro works wonders for a student with a lot of requirements. Fun fact: it was devised by a student like you.
Last but not least, reward yourself for your hard work. This gives you something to look forward to after the job is done and keeps burnout at bay. Online classes are taking a toll on everyone, so a little indulgence now and then will do you a lot of good.