It’s five minutes before your class zoom lecture starts, and you’re just getting out of bed. You have already hit snooze nearly ten times. Your bed has won the battle (yet again) against your alarm and your plans to get ahead on homework are derailed. This is the morning routine for many college students in today’s online world. With a schedule filled with online zoom lectures, asynchronous courses and the occasional in-person course, life feels jumbled and irregular as the student experience is happening primarily in our bedrooms. With a little bit of organizational skills and implementing new habits, you will feel more in control of this hectic new way of getting an education.
- Create a study space
Zoom lectures provide a temptation to stay in bed with the camera off. You may think that you will be productive while being comfortable, but don’t fool yourself. Your bed is for sleeping and relaxing, so working from your bed can create association issues with work and relaxation. Designating and building a study space for yourself is the first step to an organized life.
Invest in a desk or thrift a used table and spruce it up to your liking. Make your study space somewhere where your supplies are easily accessible and you feel inspired! Decorate your table, have an outlet nearby for charging your electronics, and gather a collection of pens, pencils, papers, and erasers. Take the time to properly set up this study area, as you will be here a lot. And use it! Having a place to work from your bedroom or dorm is important for those late-night study sessions or early-morning deadlines.
- Get on a sleep schedule (and stick to it!)
It takes a lot of discipline to wake up early in the morning, but it is worth it. Even if you are a night-owl, a regular sleep schedule and adequate deep sleep has extensive benefits. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, if you get enough sleep it can lead to decreased sickness, retention of a healthy weight, reduced stress and a clear head for school and work. This is substantial and can lead to better grades and enhanced quality of work.
A good sleep schedule starts with a regular bedtime. Pick an ideal time that you want to go to bed at and work your way backwards. For example, if the ideal bedtime is 10 p.m. but you currently go to bed around 1 a.m. regularly, work backwards in 30-minute intervals. The first night, shoot to go to bed at 12:30 a.m. with a wake-up time seven to eight hours later. After you feel comfortable with this schedule, move bedtime up to 12 a.m. and repeat. Wean yourself off the late-nights and keep to the schedule even through the weekends.
- Use a calendar (that’s not just Canvas)
While Canvas offers a great feature to view upcoming assignments by due date, not every professor utilizes it. With work, school and organizations, it becomes difficult to juggle the few spaces of free time. A calendar will offer a visual reference of when you have open times. If you prefer written forms of organization, invest in a good planner or agenda with a breakdown of months and weeks. Do you prefer a digital format? Utilize your Outlook calendar linked to your K-State email (or try the ever-popular Google calendar). Designate one day a week to work on this calendar and input upcoming events for the week, classes, and study hours.
- Make to-do lists
One of the most satisfying feelings is to complete a task, especially one that has taken a while. Pair task completion with a visual reference, and you get a line through an item on a to-do list. *sigh* Satisfying. Using both the Canvas calendar and course schedules, take a moment every morning to reflect on the available time you have in your calendar and decide your tasks for the day. Focus your energy on the smallest tasks first and cross them off as you go. The rush of serotonin will motivate you to complete the next task, and the next task, and the tasks after that.
- Stay consistent!
This article is a pack-a-punch with information. Change doesn’t happen overnight. If these organization tips are new to you, start with one at a time. Master that tip and make it a habit before moving on to the next one. Once you build these practices, stay consistent. Whether your schedule changes or your motivation is lacking, remember that keeping a habit is easier than building a new one. You are an amazing individual and the journey to better habits starts today. You got this!