Welcome to Zoom University!
Welcome to Zoom University! We’re excited to have you as part of our family. No, but seriously, real talk: how is anyone supposed to self-motivate during these unprecedented times? How can one possibly focus on their online schoolwork when you can access things like Netflix, online shopping, and CoolMathGames.com via the exact same technological source? Well, have no fear, you’re in luck. I have taken the liberty of compiling some study tips for when you convince yourself that since your classes are online, they don’t really exist. Buckle up, Western: it’s time to get studious.
1. Watch your computer tabs
Listen. I know we live in an age of multitaskers. We pride ourselves on our ability to focus on ten things at once. However, when it comes to school, it’s best to force yourself to focus on the exact task at hand. Having shopping sites open can derail your progress for sure, but I’ve found it’s almost more damaging to multitask with your schoolwork. I’ve started to limit myself to only the relevant tabs of what I’m working on: no more having six different assignments on the go.
2. Time block
I have personally always had a very hard time focusing on a single task for any amount of time. It is for this reason that my Google Calendar has become my best friend. I consider time blocking one of the quintessential student study tips. By blocking out specific times in which you will be working on one task, you take away the uncertainty of, say, getting to the library and sitting there for hours, unable to start a task or decide what your priorities are. So at any given point, my calendar might look like this:
- 9:00-10:00 tutorial
- 10:00-1:00 work on seminar paper
- 1:00-2:00 lunch break
- 2:00-4:00 finish sociology paper
3. Find a method that works for you
Things like OneNote and GoodNotes are fantastic for organization, but I’ve always preferred Google Drive folders for their accessibility across devices as well as their superior sharing capability. But that’s me: my point here is to find a method of note taking and studying that works for you at the beginning of the year to best set yourself up for success down the line. It’s better to keep all of your school files in one place, whatever that place is is up to you. Once you have a method, stick to it. I use Google Calendar for time blocking and appointments, Google Keep for my to-do lists, and my Gmail gets all of my emails forwarded to me from every account. This will also vary depending on what type of devices you have.
4. Study alone
Seriously. I know studying with your friends can be fun, and sometimes you can get some work done. However, this is rarely the case, and you’re better off designating study time and friend time separately. Take breaks to see your friends, but lock it in when it’s time to work. If you really want to study with people, make it a small group of dedicated individuals who really need to buckle down and get going. I tend to study best in groups of four or less. Anything bigger and there are too many distractions. Plus, you can divide and conquer: assign different tasks to your friends so even if you can’t see each other in person, you can still work as a team.
5. Make use of your resources
Things like virtual office hours and lectures that you can rewatch sound tedious at first, but there’s a silver lining to everything and you just have to look for it. Having asynchronous lectures can be difficult, but on the other hand, you can rewatch that material anytime you need it, making studying for quizzes and exams that much more manageable, and notetaking less stressful when you can pause and rewind the narration.
6. Give yourself breaks
It sounds counterproductive, but the more breaks you give yourself (whether it be a lunch or snack pause or a small social outing later in the evening), the better you’ll be able to focus on your work when it’s time to do so.
7. Take care of yourself
This is very broadly worded for a reason: people exercise self-care in different ways. For me, working out, spending time outside, and having time to cook dinners for myself are key to my sanity. For others, things like face masks, lots of sleep, dance parties, etcetera can be just as helpful. Realize what your body needs and don’t ignore it!
8. Pack food and water
Make sure to hydrate and stay nourished when you’re working – Tim Hortons might be convenient, but have too much of their soup and you’ll definitely feel sluggish later. I find my best study days happen when I plan ahead and pack a bento box full of food for when I feel snackish. Sometimes I’ll bring a sandwich or salad, and sometimes it’s just a variety of finger food like pretzels and fruit, but either way, having options readily available helps you avoid time and money wasted on the campus eateries.
Online university is a big adjustment for everyone, profs and TAs included. Remember to be kind to others regardless of circumstances, and treat everyone with patience and respect as we navigate through these uncharted waters together. Hannah Montana said it best: nobody’s perfect. Don’t expect your year to go just as you planned. This being said, it can still be a great year! Make time for yourself, your friends, and your passions. Western is an amazing community, and in today’s day and age, it’s never been easier to make genuine connections online.