Productivity tips to help you through online learning

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By Johane Berry

This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 3 of VARSITY News.


As of Monday, the 20th of April, all UCT lectures and course material will be presented in an online format by means of podcasts, lecture slides, and the like. Many schools and other universities across the country, as well as internationally, are embarking on the same journey – what other option is there, really? Although it can be rather daunting, here are some ways in which one can get prepared for and stay productive through the process.


  1. Make a daily schedule


It is extremely important to make sure you know exactly what to do and what you want to achieve every single day. You can do this by drawing up a timetable, schedule or even a to-do list the night before. Be sure to devote a couple of hours to working or studying, at least 7-8 hours to sleep, at least 30 minutes to exercise and some time for relaxation and unwinding. We all know studying at home can be rather frustrating because your siblings are perhaps a little noisy, your parents keep calling you to do chores or the TV is too loud. This is why it’s a really great idea to put your schedule up on your door (or even on the fridge, where everyone can see it), just so that your family members know when they can bother you and when it is preferably better for them to leave you alone so you can be as productive as possible.


  1. Familiarise yourself with your course content and schedule


In doing so, you will not only know which parts of your work will carry the greatest weight in tests and assignments, but you’ll also be able to figure out which assessments to prioritise over others. It might also be advised for you to revise what you have already done in your various subjects or modules before our lives were brought to a complete halt, so as to not start at a disadvantage at the threshold of a new term. Be sure to check your emails and announcements to be well-informed about submissions, amended test dates and what form your assessments will take in the future. Very little of what was previously well-established is going to stay the same.


  1. Have a fixed bedtime and wake-up time


Although this will probably be the most challenging part for the most of us (watching Netflix until 2am is quite tempting), it is super important to retain a sense of normality and a fixed routine. In this way, you’ll still have that feeling of “getting ready for class” or “going to school”, which is conducive to overall productivity. It is also no secret that getting enough sleep will help you stay awake and alert during boring online lectures or reading through long lecture slides.


  1. Start your day well


What you do during the first hour or two of your day will set the tone for the rest of the day, including your mood, how productive you’ll be and your state of mind. Studies have proven that making your bed first thing in the morning is one of the most effective productivity practices out there. Start your day in a way that will set you up for peace and productivity – make your bed, have some breakfast, shower, brush your teeth and get dressed and ready as if you had somewhere to go. Next, try to do something which is conducive to your state of mind or mental wellbeing, whether that’s saying a prayer, reading some affirmations, meditating for 15 minutes or reading a chapter from your favourite book. After this, you’ll feel energised and rejuvenated to take on a day of hard work.


  1. Stay consistent and practice self-discipline


Your academic career and future has never been entirely in your hands as much as it is now. There is no longer a lecturer waiting for you in class, ready to answer your questions whenever you put up your hand and feed you information while you slowly fall asleep. It is completely and entirely up to you to put in the work, critically engage with the content and stay on track as far as is reasonably possible. You are perfectly capable of prioritising the hours in your day to contribute to your studies, your mind and body and your mental wellbeing. With consistent hard work, a focus-driven mindset and consciously reminding yourself of the bigger picture and context of the situation we’re facing, you will realise the urgency of taking responsibility for yourself and making a success of this new way of doing things.


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