Healthy Homework Habits at Home

By Sarah Gardiner 

Credit // Glenn Carstens-Peters

Among the challenges the novel coronavirus has brought to our lives, virtual school is one of the most prominent for college students in the United States. While taking classes on your computer at home in your pajamas seems convenient, it is also incredibly difficult to maintain the same level of motivation students would typically have on campus. A number of complications and distractions like poor Wifi connection in your home, noisy roommates and scheduling difficulties, can make classes on Zoom burdensome. However, as these conditions persist and potentially carry on to next semester, it is essential to adjust in order to do the most efficient work we can do.

Here are a few tips from UGA PRSSA on how to evolve to the new academic normal. 

  1. Find a “work only” space.

This can be challenging, especially since most getaway study spots are closed during the pandemic or are not allowing indoor seating. Finding a restaurant or coffee shop with an outdoor area that permits social distancing can guarantee more productive work than trying to accomplish tasks sitting up in your bed. In Athens, try Walker’s Pub and Coffee downtown, Sips Espresso Café in Normaltown, Jittery Joe’s Coffee in Five Points or even outdoor seating at the MLC. If the weather isn’t cooperating, find a study room in the library or even create a space in your house reserved for work only.

  1. Create a detailed agenda for the day, week and month.

A frequent consequence of online school is missing assignments that have been posted because without attending class in-person, we miss out on  the teacher announcing assignments in class. It can be easy to shut the laptop after a Zoom meeting and assume the due date is far in the future. Especially with lenient attendance policies and more small online tasks,, the calendar can quickly pile up with quizzes and discussion posts that need to be tended to. By creating a detailed agenda of what needs to be accomplished each day, you can assure the activities due are submitted in a timely manner. Creating a monthly calendar detailing all of the future due dates will also help avoid the stomach-dropping feeling of receiving a zero or a late deduction on an assignment you could have easily received full credit for.

  1. Save all of your Zoom links on a note or document on your computer.

Zoom has obvioulsy been invaluable in the transition to online classes, but it can be overwhelming keeping track of when all appointments like class, group projects and club meetings are being held. To add to the chaos, each meeting has a unique access link that often includes a password. Instead of digging through eLC announcements or your email inbox, create a document outlining the class or group, the days and times the meetings are held, the link and the password if one is required. This allows for convenient connection and will only leave you with the “Connecting…” notification on your screen rather than frantically rummaging through the contents of your computer minutes before the meeting begins.

  1. Remove unnecessary notifications from your computer.

Trying to take notes, listen and view the professor’s lecture, make sure you maintain connection and resist clicking on the iMessage notifications that appear in the right corner of the screen is nearly impossible. It is easy to lose your train of thought when more than just your teacher’s slides are appearing on screen. Try turning off your notifications, such as social media and iMessage, and putting your phone in a separate room or pocket of your bag; it will make for a less hectic screen and minimize distractions.

  1. Hold yourself accountable.

While staying in pajamas all day seems like the perfect day you have been dreaming about since you were a child, protesting changing into “campus” clothes insinuates the day’s agenda is what a day in pajamas typically entails: relaxing and disconnecting your brain. Waking up thirty minutes in advance for online classes and changing clothes puts us in the right mindset  to have a productive class and rest of the day. You will also be more open to keeping your camera on during Zoom meetings, which will encourage  you to stay engaged and avoid doing other tasks while you are on the call.

Changes in a routine students have taken years to master is not only frustrating, but also problematic. Just like it took time to create and maintain the good habits that helped you excel in school pre-COVID, it will also take time to adjust to the new ones that suit this new normal. Being patient with yourself and diligent about how you approach online school can help you stay focused and motivated in this unfamiliar format.