In lieu of the upcoming school year, I’d like to write an article offering my methods on how to stay productive this school year. As of September 7, I began my second year at X University. Attending university virtually can be exhausting; there are many distractions such as your bed, family, or tv, that can make it difficult to focus. Although you are not necessarily moving and dealing with the hustle and bustle of commuting and/or walking from one side of campus to the other—it’s still possible to feel physically and mentally drained. Despite being in the comfort of your own home, it is actually much easier to fall behind in school work (from personal experience). When it comes to a student’s schedule, there’s no doubt that it can get hectic, especially since most people have priorities outside of school.
School burnout is a real thing, we’ve all dealt with it. Here are a few ways to avoid that and stay productive. With a few of my personal tips and methods from Southern Utah University, you should be able to see a noticeable difference in your work and study habits (more catered to university students) in no time!
As soon as you get the syllabus for your class(es), input it into your calendar. Whether you color code them, or do something else to make each course and/or assignment distinguishable, it’ll always be useful to have a full view of what you need to do for the year. I like this method of organization because it helps me get ahead in my work.
Minimize distractions as best as you can. We all know how easy it is to just pick up our phones and scroll through Instagram or TikTok, and open up a new Netflix tab on your laptop to “play in the background” while you study. And the next thing you know, you’ve lost 3 hours that could have been put into something else. There are many useful apps or chrome extensions that you can use that will restrict websites while you work.
Start with the difficult things and remember to take notes! Now, I’m not saying you should do this every single day, because there is no doubt that that’s hard. But create a to-do list, make reminders, use a planner, and write down your top priorities for the day (or week) and get those out of the way before anything else. I promise it’s a lot more satisfying checking things off when they’re finished. As for taking notes, write down what is important, and write them in your own words. You don’t need to copy and paste what the textbook says or make aesthetic notes— you need to be able to understand what you’re learning, and one of my favorite ways to do this is active recall and repetition.
Give yourself a break from time to time, you deserve it. While it is important to stay driven and motivated during these times, over-exhausting and overworking yourself is no way to do that. Make time for extracurriculars, relaxation, exercise, social activities, or even just a small snack. My favorite way of doing this is the pomodoro method. It allows me to get as much work done as I can within a specific time frame, while still giving myself short but necessary breaks. By rewarding myself after or during a study session, it builds up consistency and routine-ly habits that have trained me to be productive.
According to Statistics Canada, “[t]he closure of academic institutions due to COVID-19 resulted in a shift toward increased online learning. Almost all participants had… 17% or all (75%) of their courses moved online. A small proportion had none of their courses moved online (2%) or were not taking courses.” Yes, the transition to online learning has still benefited students to the point where they truly had the opportunity to even continue their studies. However, with this rapid change of action, new challenges could arise or limit students who were or are not equipped to fully have the advantages of online learning (proper Wi-Fi, laptops, webcams, microphones, etc.). Therefore, I’ve written this article for those who are struggling at this time, either because they learn better in person, … lack the appropriate tools or … do not have a suitable home environment for learning online. The shift to remote learning has had a big impact on many students and I hope that this helped even in the slightest to help you feel more at ease this school year. Happy studying!