Note: This post was written during the covid-19 pandemic. While university teaching is no longer 100% online, online learning is here to stay… whether in the form of online lectures or simply a quick Teams/ Zoom/ Skype call with your project group. So we think this blog post is just as relevant as ever! Now read on…
by Claudia Raymond-Hayling, Second year Theatre and English (BA) student and Bristol Futures Advocate.
During this very strange year, working from home or university accommodation is something we all are adjusting to. Since starting the first teaching block, I have learnt a few things about staying organised and keeping that daily routine in check.
1. Regularity with your timings of the day
Make sure you get up at a good time (before 10am). This will allow you to spread out your tasks across the day, so you use your time efficiently and effectively. Also, having a rough idea of the timings you eat your meals will make it easier to schedule your work around the break you might want to have at mealtimes. Exercise is a great way to help your mental and physical wellbeing, so you may also find it helpful to schedule this at regular times during the week.
2. Make a list of the work you need to do at the start of the week.
Writing down the things you need to get done can help so much in terms of visualising your goals. It can make tasks feel much more manageable and accomplishable. Even things that aren’t university-related, put them onto your list.
3. At the start of each day, choose things from your to-do list and make a schedule.
Making a daily schedule might seem excessive, but it allows you to organise your day and prioritise the things that need to be completed more urgently. It also can help you to feel motivated by having a smaller, more manageable list each day, rather than being daunted by your weekly to-do list. If you make a daily schedule, it will also mean that you can organise your tasks around other plans you might have – as unexpected things often come up!
4. Make your daily goals realistic.
It’s easy to overestimate the work you can achieve in a day, and how much time each task will take you. Sometimes 30-minute lectures can take up to 2 hours, simply because of the difficulty of the concepts being taught. Make sure your daily goals are realistic, as it can really help with your time management, but also your mindset and attitude towards a day’s work.
5. Vary the environment you’re working in.
Try working in a different room – ask your flatmate to swap rooms for the afternoon or maybe go to the library. You’d be surprised how much a change of scene can alter your approach and attitude towards your work.
6. Take breaks! Do things you enjoy.
Allow yourself to have breaks, don’t burn yourself out. Go for a walk with a friend, watch Netflix for an hour or do any hobby that you really enjoy. Breaks allow you to work more effectively, and if you schedule them, you’ll have a cut-off time. Sometimes, you might need to take a longer break, or have a day not working, which is also okay. It’s important to prioritise your own wellbeing during this time at home too – don’t be harsh on yourself if you need a breather. And remember, if you’re struggling to meet deadlines for this reason, extension requests are always available to you.
I’ve gradually been implementing these steps into my life and my work schedule, and my routine has felt much more structured. Different techniques work for different people, but these are what have made a profound difference to my life during lockdown. Since many aspects of life can feel so unstructured right now, taking steps to help yourself have more of a routine can be hugely beneficial in terms of wellbeing and completing those daily things that we need to do.
If you need any support in study skills, you are always welcome at the drop-in sessions run by the student advocates within each faculty. These sessions can help with the general skills that facilitate your learning in a way that can be really helpful to your academic progress, specifically through speaking to other members of your faculty – which can be very insightful! The university Study Skills also have many online resources that can be invaluable to many specific aspects of working effectively.
Wishing you all lots of luck, and perhaps have a think about the things that have helped you stay in a good routine during this time and post in the comments below!