On learning online

This year,  most students have had to to transition to online learning. You’d think that as the “digital generation”, this would be easy, but it has been quite a feat. Aside from teething issues with online learning platforms, studying and learning from home has brought on a whole new set of challenges (and ways to procrastinate).

I’ve just completed my first semester, half of which we did online. I thought I would share some things I’ve learnt over the past few months that have made it easier for me learn from home.

Don’t underestimate the importance of routine. At school or university, the day tends to be quite structured. Replicating that at home has allowed me to make sure I have time to complete everything that needs to be done on a particular day, whilst still allowing for pockets of time to do non-work stuff. Sometimes, you sit down to do some work and before you know it, the sun has set and you haven’t left your desk all day.

Take breaks. At university, even although the days were busy, there were small pockets of time during the day spent walking campus or to lunch, or a few minutes spent chatting to someone you’ve run into. Whilst working from home, even these tiny breaks away from focused work aren’t happening. So I tried my best to make my own, by taking sometime to go make coffee or lunch and take a quick reading or youtube break. Even just a few minutes standing by the window to get some sun on my face and fresh air did the trick. It helped me to view my day in segments, rather than one long monotonous unit of time.

Schedule more time. Often, I found that the work that would usually be covered in a 50-minute lecture on campus would take me 1.5 hours to complete at home. That’s because I’d sit and watch the lectures, write the notes and do the homework all in one sitting. I found it immensely helpful to complete the work in this way, as I was focused on the task at hand and “in the zone”.

Exercise. This WFH lifestyle is even more sedentary than usual. So it’s important to ensure that you’re still getting some movement, even if it’s just walking. Taking a walk can be a good way to calm down, clear your head, get some fresh air and get your body moving.

Don’t isolate yourself socially. I’ve found that scheduling time to call my friends and cousins gives me something to look forward to. Sometimes you just need to see your friend’s faces and hear their voices and laugh about silly things. It always instantly makes me feel better. I also found that phoning a friend to chat about work that was bothering me helped me when I was anxious about an exam or test. It’s much easier to answer each other’s work-related questions over a call rather than texting.

Be patient. The reality is, this is a new ball game for most of us. It’s unrealistic to expect it to be seamless. It’s frustrating, as everything seems to be up in the air and unclear. Give yourself grace and allow time to adapt and find new routines.

I’ve found these things really helped me to feel more at ease and a bit more “normal”, whatever that means to you right now.


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