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Successfully Managing Online Classes

Five tips to help you create the ideal environment for your online classes.

Welcome to the era of online classes! While it’s super cool that we’re still learning, working and functioning with the power of the internet, Zoom fatigue is definitely real. Spending all your class time (and social time) online can feel exhausting and unmotivating.

Students and teachers across the globe have adapted to this new way of learning and managing online classes—and there is a lot to manage! You have to consider your productivity, mental health, stress level, classes and physical health simultaneously. We’re here to bring you mindful ways you can focus on your schoolwork while learning at home or in your dorm room. Read through the tips, take what you want and leave the rest! Then, share this article with your classmates to empower them to have their best online semester yet!

  • Be mindful of your environment. The space that you create for doing schoolwork can make a big impact on your ability to be productive and focused throughout the day. Although you might not have as many options as you’d like, there are some factors that are within your control. First, clear the clutter off your desk or worktable because a cluttered space leads to distractions that can make you feel overwhelmed and stressed. Next, look at the lighting in your space. Bright light helps you feel alert, awake and inspired. If you are working in the same room that you sleep in, having a dim night lighting option can also help you set boundaries around study time and rest. Next, tweak the scent in your environment! Aromatherapy essential oils and candles in your favorite scents can make your space feel cozy and fun, even when you’re taking online classes. Whether you like to light a candle (safely!), use an oil diffuser or create your own room spray, tailoring the scent for your space is a great way to help you focus and feel good. Finally, the more space options you have, the better. Perhaps you can rotate through different rooms in your home, or even just move your chair to a different location in your dorm room. This shift, no matter how small, will prevent you from feeling stagnant day after day.
  • Create an empowering routine. Many students feel less focused without the structure of a conventional schedule. With extracurricular clubs and social events cancelled or just meeting online, the days can feel boring and long. Take control of your own schedule and create a routine that feels empowering to you. Start with the morning and decide if you’d like to meditate, journal, work out, write affirmations, stretch or simply have a cup of coffee as you set the tone for your day. Next, look for ways to include movement in your routine when you’re not busy with schoolwork. Whether it’s a socially distanced walk outside or a quick 10-minute YouTube workout, moving and getting your heart pumping will support your energy, health and focus throughout the day. At the end of your day, decide on a supportive nighttime routine to help you decompress from your day of classes. This might include a warm drink or dessert, reading a novel, watching a show or calling a loved one. Whatever routines you set, make sure you’re doing them because you genuinely feel good doing them—not because you think you “should” or it’s trendy on social media.
  • Take breaks often. Your body and your brain need breaks in order to function at their optimum potential. Not only are you exposing your eyes to more blue light than ever before, but your body will likely get tired and stiff from sitting in the same position at the same desk in the same room every day. Taking breaks and resting are essential to your success. You might want to consider creating a list of tech-free break options to use throughout the day, such as napping, reading, calling a friend, taking a walk, listening to music, painting or cooking. The key is to continuously check your stress levels and schedule time for breaks throughout the day (set an alarm!) to prevent burnout and fatigue.
  • Do Not Disturb. Set yourself up for success to focus and stay productive by utilizing Do Not Disturb features on your phone and computer. By shutting off notifications, you’ll be more likely to pay attention to your professors, which will save you time and energy when finals roll around. It’s also a great idea to create a One-Tab Rule—only allowing one window or tab (with your class materials) to be open at a time. As soon as you start opening other applications or websites and trying to multitask, your productivity levels are bound to drop. This tip definitely takes some discipline, but it will be worth it in the end. (There’s plenty of time to catch up on TikTok videos after class!)
  • Remember that this is temporary. No matter what year of school you’re in or where you’re heading after this semester, it’s helpful to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Get curious about how this learn-from-home experience has shaped your life. Explore how you’ve gained strength and resilience in the past year. Get excited about how you’re going to use these new skills and perspective when the world opens up again. Maybe online classes will be here to stay, or maybe not! Either way, remember that the only way out is to move forward, and every day is a new opportunity to learn, grow and take advantage of the opportunities at your fingertips.

These tips can empower you to be focused, calm and supported during your semester of online classes. Be sure to share this article with your classmates and let us know which tips you’re putting into action today. Feel free to connect in the comments below or on social media.

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