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Surviving Quarantine Academy

Posted by UWSPcps - April 15, 2020 - Academics, Featured, Health Sciences and Wellness, Students

Student Guest Blog: Joy Becker is a first-year health promotion and wellness student at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. The following article was originally posted on her personal blog, In Pursuit of Wellness, and re-posted with permission.

Joy Becker

Surprise! Doing school from home is hard. At last, the secret is finally out to all my non-homeschooled peers. So many new challenges come with taking classes online, but the one I hear about most frequently is the loss of motivation and the slippery slope of disorganization that quickly follows. I get it! I feel your pain! As a Becker Homeschool and Rural Virtual Academy alum, I have definitely had my fair share of struggles with independent learning and loss of motivation while doing school at home. Finally, after many years of trial and error, I’ve come up with a handful of tips for keeping my motivation flowing and staying on top of my workload. In this last month of online classes, I hope these tips prove useful and help you finish strong this semester.

1. MAKE LISTS

Become a list maker! I cannot stress this enough. Whether it’s writing down creative ideas, anxieties, or to-dos, as soon as your pen hits the paper, your busy brain is able to quiet down a little more and focus on fewer things at a time. In terms of managing online classes, I recommend writing down detailed to-do lists each week to quiet your mind and set yourself up for a successful school week.

Looking through one course at a time, compile a master to-do list including:

  • Textbook readings
  • Lecture recordings
  • Note reviews
  • Assignments/quizzes/discussions
  • Studying for exams
  • Projects – break up into smaller steps when possible
I’m loving my current planner from Emily Ley’s Simplified collection – definitely a keeper!

2. USE A PLANNER

Now that you don’t have face-to-face lectures to attend, you may be tempted to ditch the planner or calendar, but for the sake of fighting procrastination, staying organized, and lowering overall stress, I highly recommend you stick with one.

Planning your days ahead of time will save you a TON of unnecessary stress. Instead of looking at the lump sum of your to-do list throughout the week, you simply look at the things you have scheduled each day.

  • Designate specific focus days for your courses. For example, even though I no longer have live Biology lectures to attend, I continue to schedule “BIO 101” on Mondays and Wednesdays as a primary course to tackle on those days.
  • Using your “master to-do list” set aside time slots in your week to focus on specific assignments. Instead of only adding due dates into your planner, in addition, designate earlier dates to get those assignments done. This will help you get a handle on a large workload and guarantees you won’t miss a due date. 
  • Figure out your optimal study times and stick with them – if you’re feeling stumped on a project, walk away for half an hour and take a break. Your brain may just need some time to refresh or a change of scenery.

3. GET AN EARLY START

The image above is mainly inspired by my dad. He is probably the most self-disciplined and motivated people I know – he gets up at the crack of dawn every day to exercise, read the Bible, watch the sunrise, etc. (all the wholesome stuff that morning people do I suppose). For years he’s been telling me that waking up early would be a game-changer for my motivation and productivity. Well, I made the decision after spring break to take his advice and start getting up earlier; for me, that’s 7 a.m. Turns out he was right (duh). I’m finding that when I get up early, I am far more productive both in the morning and the rest of my day than when I let myself sleep in. I also feel more energized and ready to take on the day when I get an early start.

  • To make the most out of an early rise, stick to a personal morning routine. When you have a plan for your morning, you are more likely to use your time wisely and build motivation for the rest of the day.
  • Start the day by making your bed. This seemingly simple task can actually set the tone for your whole day. Beginning the day by choosing to accomplish something (even something as small as making your bed) sets off a chain reaction of productive choices for the rest of the day.
[here’s a sneak peek at my morning routine! – I save it to my phone using Google Keep]

Tip: If you’re struggling to get out of bed in the morning, try drinking a glass of water immediately after your alarm goes off – you will feel more alert instantly!

4. REGULATE YOUR SLEEP SCHEDULE

I used to think that if I wanted to wake up early I had to go to sleep early as well. To put it simply, going to bed early is a lost cause for me. Recently, I did a little research and learned that the average adult needs only 7-9 hours of sleep every night. After logging my sleep habits for a little over a week I found that I feel great on 7 hours – no more, no less. So, I guess waking up early doesn’t mean you have to go to bed at 9 p.m. every night. For some people that is the case, but not all. For me and probably many of my peers, it’s actually realistic to go to bed at 11 p.m. and be ready for the day at 7 a.m.

  • Keep track of your sleeping patterns for a couple weeks and note how you feel each day to determine how much sleep you need to be at your best.
  • Once you know how many hours of sleep you personally need, pick a daily wake-up time and stick with it, even on weekends. Soon your body will adjust and naturally wake up at that time, making it easier to get up and start your day of the right foot.

4. EXERCISE

One of the most instant motivation boosts for me is getting active. For most of first semester, you could find me at a group fitness class almost every day of the week, and let me tell you the motivation juices were flowing! However, since being stuck at home, its been more of a challenge. I no longer have the convenience of a free group fitness class just a two-minute walk from my residence hall. Thankfully there are so many other options for working out at home:

  • Download a fitness app
  • It’s spring! – go on a daily walk/run/bike ride
  • Follow UWSP’s Group Fitness video classes on Facebook

5. OPTIMIZE YOUR STUDY ENVIRONMENT

Your study environment is a make-or-break for your academic success, especially when you’re studying at home. When I was homeschooled, I would often give in to temptation and try to read my textbooks while cuddled up in bed, or work on assignments while relaxing on my couch. As you can imagine, that never worked out very well for me. I would either end up falling asleep or scrolling through social media for an hour instead of studying.

Choosing a study environment that’s meant for relaxing or sleeping takes a huge toll on your focus level and motivation to make your brain work hard.

  • Remove distractions like a TV or your phone – I’m a big fan of “phone-jail” 😉
  • Study in natural light as much as possible to boost your mood and alertness
  • Set up at a table or desk with minimal clutter – a cluttered environment easily translates into a cluttered mind
  • If you must study in your room, maintain a clean, organized workspace and maybe open a window to avoid stuffiness

Hopefully, you find these tips helpful and applicable as you finish up the semester at Quarantine Academy! Feel free to reach out to me with questions, comments or feedback. 

– {just joy}

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