The Clog’s guide to starting the virtual semester off strong

Student Studying
Josh Kahen/File

Related Posts

Starting this semester will feel a little strange, but with the right planning, it shouldn’t be impossible to start it off strong. Whether you’re at home or in Berkeley, taking classes online can be easy to lose track of. Without an organization system in place, you risk potentially forgetting a task or falling behind on a project. Prepare for this virtual fall semester with an organized plan for success. 

Success can be anything you want it to be. Maybe you want a higher GPA or to establish a connection with your favorite professor. Whatever it is, be sure to write your priorities down and create an organized plan to see your goals come to fruition. Below are some techniques for starting the semester off strong that may be helpful.

Create a plan for your goals

Writing your goals down is the first step to accomplishing them. This doesn’t have to be formal unless you’re into polished goal-setting. Categorize your goals by how long they will take to accomplish. The ones that take the longest amount of time will require the most consistency and planning. Don’t let the magnitude of the goal keep you from reaching it. Divide up the project into achievable tasks and plan when you will accomplish those tasks. Then, you can spend some time actively chipping away at your goal each week this semester.

Track your schedule with an online service such as bCal or Trello

Using a planner or task organizer can help you keep track of when you need to be on Zoom, when you should be working on something and how long you have to do an assignment. Fill out your planner with your responsibilities — if you’re a pro planner, try adding something new such as a workout schedule, meal plan or weekly chores. Add some color to distinguish between responsibilities. Some people like to color-coordinate their planners, a cute touch that will make you proud of your planning aesthetics. 

Beat procrastination and start your work early 

Actively avoiding completing an assignment might be easy at first, but after a few sleepless nights, you might wish you just chipped away at your 10-page paper instead of waiting until 8 p.m. the night before it’s due. Start strong by following the plan you created to accomplish your semester goals, which may mean setting an intentional goal to complete things early or right on time if you tend to procrastinate on assignments or other tasks. Once you have a divided list of tasks scheduled out, be sure to follow through by setting reminders or asking a friend to join you on a study date. 

Proactively take care of yourself

Self-care should be a priority. Consider adopting an artistic self-care practice such as painting, or a cliche one such as taking bubble baths or sunbathing, or even perhaps a restorative one with hair and face masks. Schedule in time for self-care activities throughout the week. No course load, job or responsibility should get in the way of you taking the time to celebrate you. While meeting your goals is important, at the end of the day, you are you, not what you produce. So, preserving your inner peace might look like procrastinating on work a few times to take care of yourself or setting back some of your goals, and that’s OK! 

Start the semester off strong and organized by planning your responsibilities and taking care of your mental and physical well-being. Beyond your individual preparation, consider tapping into campus resources. The Student Learning Center, Counseling and Psychological Services at the University Health Services Tang Center and the College of Letters and Science help desk are just a few examples of resources you have access to as a UC Berkeley student. 

Take advantage of the resources provided to you, and create your own plan to accomplish your goals this semester.

Contact Sera Smith at [email protected].