Tips and tricks for adjusting to online classes

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Photo by Patrick Goodman

I never thought I’d be doing online school again. As I hunkered down at my desk from high school on the first day of online classes, the general feeling that defined the day and infiltrated the rest of my week of drudgery was despair.

Any focus, motivation or discipline seems nearly impossible without working alongside friends and sharing in both the stress and the joys of academic life. If this week has taught me anything, it’s that there’s a reason solitary confinement is classified as torture. 

We aren’t meant for isolation. However, there is hope. 

The key to success in this time is garnering up enough mental strength to make peace with our circumstances and set about practicing the strength of character we spend countless hours learning about at the University of Dallas. 

If you’re struggling to focus or motivate yourself while learning at home, take a minute to read through these tips. 

This first tip is one you might have heard before: don’t tackle your biggest task first. Start your day by doing a couple of small, necessary things so that you can move forward with confidence that you can get things done. 

If you have a massive project or paper due, break it down into small steps and accomplish a couple of those in the morning before taking a break by moving on to something else. This way, you’ll still have your confidence boost, but you won’t be bogged down at the start of your day by a seemingly unending task. 

Don’t forget to schedule fun things to help motivate you. Maybe that’s renting a movie that just came out and watching it with your family or  FaceTiming a friend and having a makeshift happy hour. 

It could be taking advantage of your kitchen and cooking your favorite foods, or organizing fun events for your younger siblings. It’s not TGIT or Spring Formal, but actually planning quality leisure time will do wonders for your motivation. Making sure that you are doing things that are focused on other people, especially your family, will help you use this time wisely to invest in your relationships instead of losing yourself in a sea of self-pity. 

Another trick is to create new study spaces. Order a hammock online or rearrange the furniture in your room. I have one friend who set up a tent outside on her porch. Build a study fort with your little siblings. You’ll need variety to keep you from insanity. 

The other tips are the simplest, yet most powerful things you can do for yourself. Get dressed, and use airplane mode. 

While getting into fancy clothes for online classes isn’t necessary, the bare minimum is changing from one pair of sweats to another in the morning. You’re not going to have a fresh mind if you’re the frumpiest you’ve been since second grade when you’re mom just started letting you dress yourself. 

While airplane mode is rather self-explanatory, it’s probably the tip that most people will ignore. I’ll just say this: right now, when you have it, the ability to focus is the most valuable thing you possess, except maybe toilet paper. Don’t rob yourself of your focus. 

With all this in mind, the last thing that you must do is to keep your priorities in order. The people you live with depend on you, and you depend on them. If you’re struggling to balance family life and school, reach out to your teachers. They are more than willing to help you restore that balance in your life.

I hope you find these tips helpful and that we all finish the semester strong, accepting the present circumstances with grace and looking forward to the future with hope.

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