Henry Brown, '23
Procrastination is arguably the most challenging hill to climb during a student’s academic career. It raises stress levels, lowers grades, and reduces hours slept. As Teddy Palmore ‘23 puts it, “procrastination holds people back from performing at their highest level.” Kicking off the 2020-21 school year the same way we left last year is annoying for everyone, especially given that we don’t know how much longer we will be in quarantine. However, even with a later start to the day and shorter classes, now is not the time to wake up 3 minutes before the day starts, put off homework until late in the evening, and browse through social media during class on Zoom. Although I will admit to doing all of those things last spring, the school year ahead offers a fresh slate for you to develop new habits that will be beneficial once in-person school starts again. Here are some tips to help you stay productive and maximize your free time.
1. Designate Different Areas Of Your House To Certain Activities
As the weeks wore on during the final quarter of last school year, the balance between school work and free time started to break down for me. I would sit down to start my math homework and find myself thirty minutes later watching YouTube at my desk with zero problems completed. Granted, even before the pandemic every student would end up in a similar situation every so often. However, the lockdown has given students on both sides of the Close something we rarely have: lots free time on the weekdays. And unless a distinct line is drawn, it only allows for more time to procrastinate.
So how do we draw that line? The most crucial step is to find a place with minimal distractions where you can do school work, and only school work. Whether this is a desk or a kitchen table, leave your phone more than an arm’s reach away, put on some calm music, and start working. After a while, you will need a break. Choose another location (couch, kitchen counter, etc.) where you will take your breaks. Even if you receive a text message in your designated school station, move to the relaxation area. Making exceptions will only take you down the rabbit hole of procrastination. Separating the places where you relax and work will be incredibly effective at maximizing your productivity.
2. Stick To A Routine
Even though many of us wish to go back into the classrooms, one of the perks of distance learning is the ability to roll out of bed five minutes before class begins. While this might be nice every once in a while, try to establish a morning routine and stick with it. Not only should this include brushing your teeth and eating breakfast, but also try to step outside, stretch/workout, or read a chapter of a book. Five minutes before class, prepare your books and create an outline for the day in your head. Ask yourself questions.“What work do I need to complete?” “Should I email my advisor about this?” By getting up with plenty of time to prepare for school, you will feel focused and awake throughout the day.
3. Get Organized
Before teachers start assigning essays, labs, and long assignments, take this first week to get organized for the school year. When distance learning started last April, Rishi Kannan ‘23 “was in a shock” because “[his] desk was not ready to handle the increased course work at home.” He suggests rearranging your desk/work space to minimize distractions and organizing your supplies by class in easy-to-reach places. Rishi also notes that to get his thoughts more organized, “[he] used Google Calendar to have all of [his] classes’ Zoom links in one space, to set reminders for [himself] to work on longer projects, and to make a detailed homework schedule for each day.” In addition, I recommend deleting old emails on your school account, tidying up your room before class, and charging all of your devices (phone, computer, headphones, etc.) at night to stay on top of your work. Staying organized is a tedious process, but it allows us to keep a clear mind and work efficiently.
When we first entered quarantine six months ago, nobody thought we would still be conducting Zoom calls for classes in September. Yet, here we are, commencing the school year with the “Remote-Plus” schedule. If this year has taught us anything, it’s that everything can change in a single day. Whether you take these tips into consideration or not, take some time to appreciate the good things about distance learning, whether it is more free time or the lack of busyness in our days. Let’s start the school year off on the right foot before 2020 throws another curve ball.
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