By Matt Merino
Among the plethora of changes caused by the novel Coronavirus, the shift to online classes has been one of the harder changes for students across the world to adapt to. Students may find it hard to get a stable footing in their studies. This instability can be avoided, however, by honing good skills in self-discipline.
According to The Guardian, one of the most effective ways to stay on track while taking online classes is to build a routine. Some William Peace University faculty members have very similar advice to give in regards to this aspect of staying on track.
Assistant Professor of Communications and Simulation and Game Design Justin Johnson is one such faculty member that, in an email to Peace Times, advised students to start incorporating a routine.
“Develop a routine and protect a few hours a week to devote to each class. Check in with professors and try to stay connected to the WPU community. It’s easy to fall behind and lose touch in an online class because everything feels so distant.”
Department Chair of Humanities and Professor of English Dr. Corrine Anderson also had a few things to say about building a routine through an email to the Peace Times.
“I am a firm believer in routines. It is important to set aside specific times each day for different tasks (reading, homework, writing, etc.). As much as possible, I try to discipline myself and not look at my phone or check out different internet sites during these designated times. It’s such a rabbit-hole.”
This setting aside of time in order to get work done can be a great way for students to stay on task and away from their phones. This can then compound into productivity and focus that may not be achieved without time-blocking and activity-blocking.
“When I’m working, I put my phone on “do not disturb” and listen to jazz on my headphones,” Anderson said. “Every 45 minutes or so, I take a 15 minute break and then get right back to it.”
Both listening to instrumental music and taking breaks can also be great in helping to achieve good focus while doing assignments.
Listening to music can trigger beneficial hormones in the brain such as dopamine, which can then boost one’s ability to stay motivated on that one big project due in a few days.
While it may seem more beneficial to crank through four hours of constant work on an essay, doing similar to Dr. Anderson and taking periodic breaks can greatly improve one’s ability to stay on task. Some good activities to decompress from work include going on a walk, talking to a friend, or even reading a chapter in a book that you find genuinely interesting.
In the end, these breaks will save time rather than waste time, giving the brain room to breathe and rewire before moving on to the next task, all the while bolstering its overall efficiency.
Dr. Anderson also makes it a point to incorporate lists into her routine.
“At the end of the day, I write down the five most important things I will need to accomplish the next day. Then I create another list of things that I hope to get done, if I have the time.”
This technique Dr. Anderson employs can also be extremely beneficial to students. Lists can provide a self-induced structure that keeps thoughts organized and makes it clear what needs to be done in a day. Even if not everything on the list can be done, it is at least beneficial in organizing what tasks are higher priority and which could be tackled at other times.
When the time comes, it can even be a good idea to cross out the completed tasks once you finish them. This technique can provide you with a dopamine boost that will incentivize your brain to complete tasks.
For many students, it may be overwhelming thinking about how to move forward. But, with this advice from WPU professors in mind, students may find some comfort in knowing there is still a way to maintain structure even when learning from home.