It feels like it was just yesterday when I could stuff my laptop into my book bag and head to the nearest coffee shop to get some work done. The smell of freshly brewed coffee and the background buzz of the chatty customers always set the mood to be productive for me. Perhaps if I had known that my last visit to the corner cafe on Rideau Street would be my last for a while, I would have cherished it more than I did. As being stuck at home and being expected to get work done has not been easy for me. In fact, I am about 99.9% sure that half of the student body worldwide is struggling to adjust to this new “normal”. I won't sit here and state that this time has been super productive for me because it hasn't, however, I will share four tips that have helped me get through this academic slump.
Number one: Accept and adapt
I don't expect students to accept the fact that everyday aspects of their student life such as going to class, meeting a professor, standing in the long line of Tim Hortons to grab an essential cup of coffee, or to just meet up with friends to be no longer an option. Half of those activities are practically my everyday life, so asking me to accept that these events will no longer take place is like telling an undergraduate student that they are not allowed to bring in coffee to an 8 am lecture. It is simply absurd. However, life must go on and we must simply adapt. Therefore the first step that I share with you from one student to the other is to do just that. Adapt to this new normal at your own pace and if you need two weeks to sit on your couch and let it sink in, do that. Part of acceptance is comprehending the situation, and if you need to crumble so that you can rise stronger than ever then do that as well. Once you have accepted this new normal, then you are now ready to make a change.
Number two: Make a schedule
Now that you have accepted your current situation, you are ready to take action. The second step is creating a schedule. Being stuck at home for me has demolished my idea of time as my sleep schedule is constantly changing day by day. If you find yourself wondering what day it is, know that you are not alone. That is one of the downsides of being stuck at home, there is no schedule to shape your day around. Therefore, I urge you to make your own. Find that one concrete factor in your day whether it is an online lecture, a work meeting, or a group study session, and use that factor to structure the rest of your day. Personally, work meetings and online lectures have helped me create somewhat of a stable schedule for me to follow. I am not suggesting that you set your alarm clock to 6 am and for you to jump out of your bed to start a movie montage because that is not the reality of our current situation. However, what I am suggesting is to choose that one concrete factor that you know will not change, and for you to use its stability to create a solid work schedule for the rest of your day.
Number 3: Keep in touch
It is very easy to fall into a wormhole of self-pity and doubt when the plans you’ve made are suddenly put to a stop. I for one did not expect April to turn out the way it did, and I fell into this headspace of what now and what happens next. It is only when I decided to connect with my friends that I then understood that I was not alone in this, and the reality is none of us really are. We are all going through a rough patch and we must not forget to keep in touch with those around us. Zoom calls, Houseparty, Snapchat, or whatever application that allows video calls is our saving grace at the moment. I encourage you to reach out to your peers and create a virtual support system for each other. Whether it is for school work or just personal life, reach out and connect to your loved ones as some may need it more than others.
Number 4: Create the perfect study space
If you are a visual person like myself, then you understand that aesthetics play a major role in how I get work done. The physical appearance of my workplace motivates me to study and also tackle more tasks than expected. Your workplace is the key to overcoming the academic quarantine blues. You have to create a workplace that will motivate you to sit down and work, it should remind you of what it felt like to spend hours in the library surrounded by others who were in the same boat as you. If you do not feel motivated in your room, then move your study space to somewhere else. Personally, the kitchen floor seemed to work for me, but that is until I realized that the smell of my coffee machine was what I was truly attracted to. Point is, find your perfect study space and then fill it with whatever you need to help you get some work done.
Adjusting to this new normal is not an easy thing to do, and from one student to the other just know that you are not alone. Academia can be difficult without having to deal with everything else, however, we do not have this luxury at the moment. Therefore, we have to take whatever it is that will help us get through these trying times and make the best out of it. I hope some of you can resonate with my student experiences during this quarantine, and I hope you find these tips somewhat helpful to your current situation.
About the author: