How I adapted to online University?

Aleksandra Olszewska discusses how she's adapted to online learning and how the Forest app, a schedule, her favourite stationery and wellbeing walks have all helped her to study well.

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Last summer, when it became clear that going back to campus in a “normal” fashion was not really happening, I was quite demotivated. I didn’t really feel like I could do well when studying exclusively from home, especially in my final year. However, since there was really no other option, I decided to work with what I have and treat this as a challenge. Since then I feel like I’ve finally developed a good working/studying routine, so here are my three tips that I learned on this journey against procrastination:

1. Stay off your phone. Seems simple, but this is something that was really hard for me, it was an easy to reach distraction and at the same time very hard to control, I would tell myself that I’m just checking this one message or this one news story but it was never just that one thing. Installing an app really helped me and now every time when I want to devote an hour or two to for example writing an essay, I’m turning on Forest and that way when I get stuck on my essay I can do anything but pick up my phone, normally I just stay focused on a task or take this opportunity to stand up and move a bit.

2. Try to build a detailed daily schedule with to-do lists. Something that works particularly well for me is writing out a detailed plan with tasks to do at specific hours, so for example I know that in the morning I study best while the afternoons/evenings are better for writing essays. Building on that I would plan to study from let’s say 10 till 1 pm and then take a break and from 2 pm I would work exclusively on my essay. It’s really up to you how you plan it but building my schedule while understanding which tasks I do best at what times really helped me, and I am less likely to be demotivated or stuck on something especially with the essays.

3. Have a dedicated study space.  I didn’t particularly consider this one at first, but with time it grew on me and I decided to focus on having a nice, clean desk with all of my favourite stationery. Having this space, something that makes you want to sit there can actually help you focus and stay on task. It can further help you set boundaries and at least with that you can try to somehow separate the uni/work life from the home life.

Lastly, please remember to take breaks I know that sometimes it may seem like you don’t need them, and you’d rather push through and finish earlier but regular breaks will pay off I promise. Lately, I decided that halfway through my day I will be going on a “well-being” walk, I actually schedule it in my diary every day! I usually take around 30 to 40 minutes and just walk around the neighbourhood, this is really helpful and is a great break because you physically step out of your study environment, you kind of force yourself to take a break from screens while also having a nice mental break from whatever is going on around you. This can also be a nice moment to call someone you haven’t seen in a while. Actually, a great tip every time you talk to someone on the phone try walking around/going outside for a walk instead of just sitting on a couch it can help you get those few extra steps a day!

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