These past few weeks have been an interesting time for college students. COVID-19 has forced many of us to shelter in place for weeks, or even months. We're experiencing something that's never happened before, and a lot has changed in a short amount of time. How do we adapt to this new lifestyle?
Shelter-in-place isn't all rest and relaxation—students are still working, taking classes, and meeting deadlines. But now, we have to do those things in a totally different environment. Many are finding out how hard it is to juggle their home life with professional responsibilities. To help with that, I've put together some tips and tricks I've learned to make my quarantine experience a little brighter.
Set up a home workspace.
Whether you're working full time, taking classes, or doing something else that requires your focus, you're going to need a workspace. A work station is a designated place in your house or apartment where you can go to avoid distractions. I suggest using an area that has a flat surface for writing and a place to set up your computer. In my apartment, I've chosen a small couch in my living room. I keep my computer on the coffee table and have plenty of space on the table for my books—and of course, space for snacks! My boyfriend opted for standing at the kitchen counter in lieu of a standing desk.
Make your space comfy and inspiring. This will keep you motivated as you work. It can be difficult during quarantine to separate work life and home life. The idea is to make your workspace feel like a separate area from the rest of your home so that you can reduce distractions.
Create a new class and work schedule.
If you're like me, days and times started to blend together by day 3 of being home from college. Make a daily schedule to help organize your responsibilities, projects, and goals. That doesn't mean you have to plan out every second of the day. You just need to give yourself a rough idea on what you need to do each day and when you'll do it. For an example, my schedule is listed below. I am a full-time college student with a part-time job. Both are fully online at this time.
Example schedule for students:
10 a.m. - Wake up
10:30 a.m. - Class work
12 p.m. - Lunch break
1 p.m. - Spend time outside on the porch
1:30 p.m. - Class work
3 p.m. – Break
3:30 p.m. - Office job work
5 p.m. - Household chores/tasks
7 p.m. – Dinner
11 p.m. – Sleep
A schedule helps me keep some order and routine in my life during these strange times. As you can see, I planned time for the things I want to do as well as the things I need to do. And don't forget to schedule in breaks! Try not to get behind on your classes or work. Online coursework may be temporary, but the outcome of grades and deadlines are permanent.
Set goals for your school and work assignments.
This is a great time to catch up on projects, but it also may seem like the perfect excuse to get behind on your work. It's easy to get distracted at home. Many classes have one due date at the end of the week for assignments. It’s hard to do homework on Monday when it's not due until Friday, but letting work pile up will only cost you in the long run. Plan out your assignments so that you don't have two things to do on Monday and 10 things to do on Friday. Setting goals will help you feel less stressed and create better work.
Take breaks to reduce stress.
Scheduling breaks is just as important as scheduling time to work. Make sure you're taking time for a breather in between assignments. For example, I typically sit in class for 1 1/2 hours, so I make sure I never go longer than that without taking a break. Use break times to eat, relax, play with pets, talk on the phone, or go outside. Do something that makes you happy and takes your mind off of your work for a little while. Breaks are proven to increase productivity and creativity!
Don't get discouraged with school/work from home.
It’s easy to get off track or discouraged right now. But you’re not alone—it's a challenging time for everyone. Just remember that even though these weeks at home feel surreal, the grades and work count just as much. Don't procrastinate! Keep using the same study and work techniques you used before. Take the time to write out your notes or make flashcards. Do all the work assigned to you so that you don't get behind, and don't let shelter-in-place keep you from doing your very best!
I hope you can take these tips and make them into something that fits your life. And remember, you've got this, you are not alone, and it’s all going to be okay!