Reflecting on the first semester of widespread remote learning in history, there were several unexpected challenges that college students had to navigate. One of which was the issue of separating work from leisure. Without the structure of in-person classes and being unable to see friends regularly due to COVID restrictions, weekdays tended to blend into weekends.
This lack of distinction resulted in the decline of many students’ mental health as we struggled to balance schoolwork and downtime.
- Establish a personalized work schedule: Before the extenuating COVID19 circumstances, the use of a planner was a common practice to ensure success in our courses. As universities and colleges across the country transitioned to remote classes, finding a work schedule that worked best for you became more important than ever. While synchronous courses provide some structure to the week, asynchronous courses require more initiative on the student’s part to stay on top of assignment due dates. An important way to manage the stress of taking remote classes is taking time at the beginning of the week to plan out any upcoming commitments. Make sure to account for extracurriculars, part-time job hours, and upcoming exams. Resources such as Google Calendar or physical planners are great ways to structure your obligations.
- Schedule downtime: Once you have determined how to structure your time for schoolwork and other commitments, do not forget to account for downtime. For some students, this may mean operating within the traditional 9–5 work schedule and taking weekends off for leisure activities and relaxing. Though it may seem unnecessary to schedule downtime, failing to do so can lead to a decline in productivity, motivation, and the overall quality of your work. Knowing that you have set aside time throughout the day and week to stop working and focus on activities that bring you joy is an effective motivator to work diligently throughout the time allotted for school.
- Take breaks away from the screen: Working from home due to social distancing measures has posed a particular challenge for students who relied on their classes as an opportunity for interacting with others and taking time away from social media and screen time in general. Scheduling downtime away from your computer and phone is an important strategy for maintaining positive mental health habits. For example, try eating meals and snacks outside with family members during the day rather than simply trading in one form of screen time (schoolwork) for another (watching tv). Time away from screens is a crucial way to reset and focus on interests/hobbies that take your mind off stressful commitments.
- Create physical work separation: For some students, taking classes remotely has made it challenging to find a productive workspace. The simple act of removing yourself from the spot you associate with relaxing can significantly improve efficiency. Many students take advantage of the nice weather at the beginning of the semester to work outside on their campus’ green areas or visiting local coffee shops where outdoor seating is available. If you do not feel comfortable leaving your apartment or home, try setting up a workstation at the kitchen table/counter! When the workday is over, try to mentally close down school mode by putting away your materials until the next day.
We at Edumeister believe a healthy mindset is required to do any work efficiently. We help students by making it easier for students to get notes and course material for their studies.