Cyber-focused: How to do well in your now-online classes

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It feels like within the course of one week, our worlds were turned completely upside down. From having classes moved online only through spring break, to having them online for the rest of the semester, transitioning into this new norm has been hectic, to say the least. For many of us, attending lectures, interacting with our peers and being able to see our professors in person provided us with structure, routine and accountability. But now that your bedroom has become the equivalent of your classroom, your class time is whenever you choose (with the exception of those you have to live-Zoom) and your peers consist of small squares on your laptop screen’s Zoom meeting, how does one stay focused on school and motivated to get things done?

Redirect your rage

With the turbulence of all the happenings in the world, you’re bound to be feeling all sorts of wacky emotions. It’s easy to go down that rabbit hole of wallowing in despair, especially if you love going to class and seeing your friends as much as I do. However, one can only be sad for so long because each day is still flying by! Identify those negative emotions and channel them into a fierce determination to stay on top of things. You didn’t let any obstacles in school get you down before, so this curveball sure as heck isn’t going to stop you now. 

Remove distractions

Whether you love it or hate it, online classes are the new norm. This means that the environment in which you participate in online school can influence your academic efficiency. Situate yourself somewhere where you know you will be able to focus. If you’re as easily distracted by the food in your kitchen as I am, seek quiet spaces far away from such distractions. If you’re at home, make sure your workspace is free of clutter and comfortable. Pro tip: Turn off laptop notifications and leave your phone in a different room.

Make daily to-do lists

Now that there’s so much more flexibility in each day, making sure you don’t fall behind in your schoolwork is crucial. If you’re not sure about how to effectively partition your time every day, take a deep breath, sit down and make a to-do list. I recommend making a to-do list for the next day every single night before going to bed. Think about all the things you want to get done tomorrow and write them out! Jot down your to-dos in a planner, in a designated journal, on sticky notes (my personal favorite) or even on your phone. You can even specifically designate the time frame or hour of the day in which you will be completing each task. After making your to-do list, you can sleep soundly knowing that you have a solid game plan for the next day.

Create weekly plans

Making a long-term game plan can help boost your motivation levels tremendously. When you create a plan of action for your goals, you make achieving them that much more real. No matter how big or small a task may be, if it’s a step toward the direction you want to go, write it down! If you’re trying to finish a project or studying for a midterm, break the big goal down into small, doable actions. Keep track of your progress throughout the week. In checking off each task, these small successes trigger the reward system in our brain and make us feel amazing. This helps us focus our concentration and inspires us to continue working toward our goals. In the end, small successes add up to big returns — a win-win!

Practice self-care 

The most important point of all! With all this time spent indoors and online, remember to stand up, stretch and take breaks. Designate self-care time in your day and make it a daily must-do. Whether it’s making a home-cooked meal, curling up with a hot cup of tea on the couch, taking a nap, going for a walk, trying an in-home workout video or watching an episode of your favorite show, take a moment to simply unplug and breathe. If you’re feeling burned out, stop and reassess. Take a deep breath, relax your mind, recharge your body and the rest will follow.

As we battle the whirlwind of stress during such tumultuous times, staying on top of schoolwork can feel virtually impossible. However, as the bright and brilliant students of UC Berkeley, you all have what it takes to achieve your goals, no matter what virus the world (or your laptop) may throw at you. With these ideas to get you started, take advantage of these different circumstances to experience a different way of learning — adapt and get creative!

Contact Kristie Lin at [email protected].