Going Back to the Same School in a Very Different Way
This is an excerpt of a story that originally appeared on Arts Insider in May 2020. This story was updated on December 18, 2020.
COVID-19 has pulled the rug of normality out from under our feet. Here we are waiting — day by day, week by week — for any news pertaining to our futures. Here’s what we do know: Winter 2020 classes will mostly be online, with some in-person offerings (and the semester has been delayed to start on January 11). This means there is a lot of freedom, and responsibility, on its way. Here are some things to keep in mind for winter term.
Consistency + Effort + Delayed Gratification = Success
For the best odds of finding success, have a healthy routine. This can look like waking up to prayer or meditation, going for runs, and having a consistent schedule for completing schoolwork. Regardless of what your routine looks like, you must be consistent, you have to put in consistent effort, you have to sacrifice some anti-productive things in your routine, which delays your gratification, but will help you find success.
Establish a schedule, follow your healthy routine, be productive, disciplined, and excellent — this will create a path to success. What this looks like in each of our lives may look drastically different but the underlying principles are universal. By no means does this equate to you grinding every waking hour of your day. This is a reminder that success requires work.
Also, recognize that success requires rest. If you do not schedule consistent resting periods, your body and mind will naturally determine that for you. Schedule breaks and rest periods so that you are in control of your productivity.
Being successful all by yourself is difficult.
Make it easier on yourself by establishing a support group to keep yourself and others accountable and motivated. Whether it’s a friend group or a study group from one of your classes, have some kind of support system in place to help you navigate these unpredictable times. The support systems you have in place ensures your productivity, mental health and support. It also does the same for others in the group. Don’t be the only one being pushed, push others too.
Another system of accountability is having a calendar with things you want to accomplish for the day and checking off each productive day. This will ensure that you stick to your goals because missing a checkmark does not feel all that great. A link to one of these boards can be found here.
Limit Your Distractions.
With all this talk about productivity, distractions need to be acknowledged. Our smartphones, computers, social media, YouTube, Netflix, etc, make it easy to fall into a time loop of “one more”. Before you know it, a half-hour, an hour, maybe even two have gone by. This can put you behind and discourage you. Remember, a bad day or week won’t throw off your long term goals. Figure out a game plan to get back on track and even more importantly, put a system in place to not slip again. (Emma Hole wrote a fantastic article on how to develop a healthier relationship with your smart device which can be found here.)
Incorporate distractions into your schedule as a reward for following your routine. For example, when I have a productive morning hitting all my targets, I watch an episode of one of my favorite shows on Netflix with my lunch.
Create a Healthy Workspace
This may not be possible for everyone but try your best to identify a space where you can work with little to no interruptions. Make this space your own.
Put up motivational quotes, add color, plants, or anything that makes that space something you can call yours. It is important that you only work in this space. For example, if you make your workspace your bed, you would eventually feel tired because your brain associates your bed with sleep. Make it a space only for work. If you are having trouble creating this space, there is a guide on how to make your space a productive one. The link can be found here.
Regardless of the combination you choose between courses, pursuing your goals, or following up with any other commitments you have, be productive. Take any additional time you have, and use it to get ahead. Set your goals and do your best to follow them. We are all going through this crazy time and when you look back, ask yourself, what did I accomplish? Turn the negative aspects of COVID-19 into positives by being able to say, I was productive during my time at home. Remember, if you fall behind or short of your goals, don’t be discouraged. Learn from your mistakes and use them as fuel for future goals.
Rest and Mental Health
In the end, please remember that you aren’t just going to school from home but you are at home during a pandemic trying to attend school. Your physical, mental, and emotional health are more important than anything else. Be kind to yourself and don’t judge yourself based on how you see others coping. Your success should not be compared to when things were normal but your success is based on your current circumstances and how far you came. Here is some advice for everyone during this pandemic.
- Everything can’t be all hustle all the time. It is okay to rest. (And remember if you don’t set time aside to rest, your body/mind will choose for you!)
- Regularly check in with your support systems not only to let them know how you are doing but to provide support and check on how they are doing. Getting through this together is better than going through it alone.
- Reality checks are important. How am I coping? Should I drop a class? Am I getting enough sleep? Is my routine sustainable? Can I handle this? Check yourself. Only you know your limits and what you are capable of so be honest with yourself.
Nathaniel Haile is a BA student pursuing a double major in Political Science and Economics and is currently on an AWE placement working for the Faculty of Arts as the Student Recruitment, Engagement & Communications Intern.