As a fourth-year student close to graduation, I decided to look back at how my student life was affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. I never thought that I would have to do my final year, one of the most difficult, virtually. I must mention that it feels like a packed and stressful whirlwind of events. This feeling reminds me of the first year when I started university. I was as nervous as I am now, the only difference being the nervousness then was of being lost and not knowing how to get used to the new environment.
I can only imagine how many of you might be feeling, especially not being able to attend the first year in person. Furthermore, not experiencing the university lifestyle you were so ecstatic about can be a little demotivating. However, as things seem to be transitioning back to normal it is important to establish a routine that can help you cope with the uncertainty that lies ahead. Below are a few strategies that helped me, and I believe will truly make a difference for you too.
Strategies to choose from
Every morning we all wake up to start our day irrespective of our residences and the part of the world in which we are located. For a successful day ahead of us, we should consider doing the following:
❖ Make our beds. Some of us may wake up early for exercise, or even start our day by making an agenda that lists to-dos for the day.
❖ An effective way to have my agenda with me all the time is by adding all the details of my day to an Outlook calendar. This is available both as a mobile app and a desktop software. I also set my reminder to an hour ahead of a planned task. This helps me to always keep track of things I have to do next.
❖ Each one of us should try grabbing a decent breakfast that gives an energetic start to the day. For me, eating home-cooked meals is very important.
❖ Once all is set to go we should look at our agenda we planned for the day and begin with the task we find the hardest. Doing so prevents you from procrastinating on that course later during the day when our energy level starts to go down.
❖ An effective technique to always maintain a high concentration level is to put our phones away for 30 minutes and focus on one topic at a time. We should note down distracting thoughts that come to our mind during those 30 minutes on a blank sheet of paper beside us. Putting a pin to those thoughts for the moment helps attend to one task hundred percent. After those 30 minutes, we should take a 10-minute break and revisit those thoughts and begin with our next 30-minute cycle.
❖ A popular technique that works for me is the “Pomodoro Technique”. Pomodoro is Italian for tomato. This is very similar to the abovementioned 30-minute work session, but it also incorporates a 10- minute break. This popular time management method asks you to alternate pomodoros, that is, focused work sessions, with frequent short breaks to promote sustained concentration and fight mental fatigue (Scroggs, 2021).
❖ Spend two hours on one course and take some breaks and then start with the new subject. Spaced practice is effective for better retention of the study material.
❖ Schedule your lunchtime every day and be honest to yourself when following your routine.
❖ Any form of exercise or other restorative activity (e.g. evening walks or meditation) are great elements to add to your day.
❖ Studying from home and diminished commute times do not mean we should go to bed late and sleep in the next day. Getting a good night’s sleep is a major factor in one’s success.
All of the above tips made me a very organized person. It helped me cope with the number of tasks I had to do every day. By using the Outlook calendar, I don’t overbook myself for any day. Furthermore, setting 30-minute limits and having an allocated time for each task helps me not to be stuck in an organization loop. Setting a limit allows me to know exactly when the organization time ends and the action time begins.
I quickly learned that feeling wracked and guilty if I didn’t feel motivated was exhausting and made me feel even more unproductive. Rewarding and praising myself for anything I got done gave me a sense of achievement and motivated me to work harder. Lastly, making a small change in the way we do things is better than doing nothing at all.
Scroggs, L. (2021). The Pomodoro Technique — Why It Works & How To Do It. Retrieved 4 October 2021, from https://todoist.com/productivity-methods/pomodoro-technique