Tips for Staying Motivated
by Penny Powell
SJR State students, now that you are entering your third week of online classes, how are you feeling? Have you found a rhythm or routine that is keeping you motivated to stay on top of your classwork?
In the first article of SJR State's "Surviving COVID-19" series, your professors provided some great tips to help you achieve online success. This time, we are excited to share tips from your peers. Below, they share their best strategies and suggestions for pressing on through the ups and downs of online learning.
"This is the time we must come together for ourselves and others," says SJR State Orange Park campus student and Nature Club president Jasmin Muslimani.
FIND A DEDICATED WORK SPACE
Florida School of the Arts student Johnny Chiovaro knows that he doesn't stay focused when working on his classes in his bedroom or on the living room couch. He, therefore, turned his garage into his "workstation," which has been his best solution for staying focused. "I've made my garage my workstation so that my brain associates the garage with only work," Johnny explains. "If I study and do classwork in my bedroom or on my living room couch, my brain will be in vacation mode, and I can't get anything done."
FREE YOUR WORK SPACE FROM DISTRACTIONS
Rachael Carroll, OPC Academic Support Center tutor and president of the Phi Theta Kappa Society, agrees with Johnny and encourages you to remove all distractions from your work space. "Make a study space free of distractions and treat it like the classroom," she says. "You wouldn’t have your phone out, eat full meals, or take naps in the classroom, so put your phone away, refrain from eating full meals, and get out of bed while you are working. This way, when you enter your school space, your mind can focus completely on being successful in school."
SET SMALLER GOALS THAT LEAD TO THE BIGGER ONES
Focusing on smaller goals within the bigger picture helps to keep Johnny focused and less stressed. "Transferring to online classes hasn't been the smoothest transition, but something I've always done to stay motivated has been to not overwhelm myself," he says. "If I look, too many times, at all the work I have that week, I will stress myself out, but when I set little goals throughout the week, it's not so bad. It can be the smallest goal ever, as long as I'm further along than I was yesterday."
TIME MANAGEMENT/TAKE IT DAY BY DAY
When setting those smaller goals, Jasmin says, "Create a doable list of items that you would like to complete throughout your day. Then, manage your time during the day to achieve that." Jasmin adds that spacing assignments and deadlines out evenly throughout the week is key. "It has actually been shown that breaking up tasks throughout your week, rather than cramming, engages your brain more, and you can grasp the subjects more easily," she says. "Brain reinforcement!"
For Jasmin, working on each subject a little bit every day - and remembering to take breaks in between her study sessions - helps her to better understand the topic being studied. When writing her daily schedule, Jasmin even records her breaks in her planner.
CREATE STUDY GUIDES
Additionally, to get a deeper grasp of her study topics, Jasmin creates study guides that summarize the important points, and then she puts all of the content together.
ACCOUNT FOR OTHER RESPONSIBILITIES/SET ALARMS TO STAY ON TRACK
Considering that you more than likely have other responsibilities in addition to your classwork, Rachel says that when planning out your day, "don’t forget to also account for your other responsibilities so that you don’t overwhelm yourself. Maybe set some alarms to keep yourself on track," she suggests.
DESIGNATE DIFFERENT DAYS FOR DIFFERENT COURSES
OPC Student Government Association (SGA) president Sabrian Edwards prefers to dedicate specific days for specific classes. "What has helped me stay motivated to keep up with my classes is designating different days for different courses," he says. "Having multiple courses online can be overwhelming if you don't plan accordingly. Working it out to where I can focus 100 percent on one or two courses a day, instead of six, can relieve a lot of stress."
WORK AND THEN PLAY
Maria Manzo, a student at the Palatka campus, loves to draw and write; however, she completely refrains from those activities until she has completed her assigned work. "I won't allow myself to draw or write until my work is done," she says. With more time at home these days, Maria has also been watching more movies than usual, but her motto remains - work first!
FIND WHAT MOTIVATES YOU
Joseph (Joe) Akin, a student at the St. Augustine campus, agrees with Maria's approach and suggests that you also find what specifically motivates you. "Find a way to motivate yourself," he says. "Maybe you can reward yourself after completing an assignment by watching an episode of your favorite show, playing a level in a new video game, or enjoying a snack after each assignment."
TAKE BREAKS/REST YOUR EYES
Not only does Joe believe it's important to find what motivates you to get the job done, but he also understands the value of taking breaks. "If you notice that you're stuck on an assignment, take a break from it," he says. "Take five to 10 minutes to focus on something else. I've found that after I come back to an assignment from a break, I see where my problem was. Also, it's a good idea to take a break after looking at a computer screen for long periods of time to give your eyes a rest."
CLEAR THE BLUR BY KEEPING YOURSELF ON A SCHEDULE
Just as the computer screen can get blurry after a while, these days of social distancing can, too. "During this outbreak, you may notice that the days keep blurring together," says Joe. "Try keeping yourself on a schedule, because this could help to prevent you from missing assignments and help transition you back to a normal lifestyle."
SPIRITUAL INSPIRATION, EXERCISE AND MUSIC
OPC student Jacob says that reading his Bible, taking walks throughout the day, and listening to his favorite music are some of his motivational tools for staying clear about his assignments. He adds that he enjoys a cup of coffee, too.
USE YOUR RESOURCES
If, like Jacob, you have a lighter class load this semester, perhaps this is an ideal time to work on certain skills. Jacob has ordered tutorial books on hardware programming for electronics projects. "I'm hoping to work on a skill while I have all of this free time indoors," says Jacob.
Jasmin reminds you to not overlook your "number one resource" - your teachers - and encourages you to take advantage of the Academic Support Center, your textbooks and credible YouTube videos.
STAY UPDATED AND RESPECTFULLY CONNECTED
Rachael, who also serves as the OPC SGA secretary, checks her e-mail and Canvas announcements every day to stay updated. If she has questions, she doesn't hesitate to reach out to her professors. She also believes that keeping in touch with classmates is important. Whomever you may be communicating with, Rachael says to "remember to be respectful, as if you were communicating face to face with someone."
DON'T GET DISCOURAGED/YOU ARE NOT ALONE
"This is a transition nobody expected, and it is a learning curve for everyone," says Rachael. "It is perfectly okay if you are struggling to adjust or don’t get everything perfect the first time. Just don’t give up!" she emphasizes. "It is easy to get caught up in the frustration of 'right now,' but you started college for a reason. Maybe you are in college to get to your dream career; to help your family; or to better yourself. Whatever the reason, whatever the goal, don't lose sight of it."
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