Online Uni Hacks
Updated: Nov 18, 2021
Like most people, when I was applying to go to university I hadn't anticipated that the bulk of it would be online. I'm studying Broadcast Production in Queen's. I've had to adapt to a completely different way of learning in my second year compared to my first. It's difficult finding a balanced lifestyle, getting steps in and leaving my room, to be honest. We tend to be glued to our desks. There are definitely days for me that my room is a gym, a study, a bedroom and a kitchen. And by consciously making sure to stick to a few habits, I was able to feel productive, as though I had accomplished something in my day. Maybe a few of my simple hacks will make your online uni life a little bit easier.
On that note, my first hack is to really think about your space. Your room or study is often a reflection of your mind. If you haven't taken the time to tidy and organise your work space, it's likely that your mind is cluttered too. Maybe this is cliche, but if you're working in your room the first thing you should do is get out of bed, make it and open your curtains. Lying in bed and doing an online class just isn't the same as sitting at your desk, with your notes and stationary beside you. I don't feel as accomplished when I leave the class if I do it in bed. All I want to do is just go back to sleep! Be sure to differentiate each space in your house for a different function. Your kitchen is for eating and your bedroom is for sleeping. Avoid eating your dinner in bed if you're going to be in your room all day anyway.
Another thing that makes me feel a lot more fulfilled before I go to bed at night is by leaving my workspace during the day. Walking to and from the library ( if you have one accessible) can break up your day. Watching other people being productive can make you more motivated to succeed. Taking a walk between classes, grabbing a coffee or going for a drive are all things that are healthy for you! Staying in the same place all day every day can be really suffocating. Obviously with Covid you have to be more conscious about where you go, but mentally it's only right for you to do something to broaden your horizons and see more than just a laptop screen. Something that I try to incorporate into my days is exercise. I try to do 10,000 steps every day and I'll always feel so exhausted before bed- which is good because I can sleep better at night. Get up before your class, get ready and get your steps in. It feels like a normal routine and day we would have precovid. Especially for me as I'm not working at the moment, those mornings are vital in creating a happy and productive day.
The second thing you should remember is the importance of planning. Plan your days in a way that suits you. For me, I like getting my work done during the day so that I have time to relax after. That means that your whole day doesn't simply revolve around being a uni student. You can focus on more things. Plan the simple things you want to achieve that day, like finishing an assignment or catching up on a lecture. I set monthly goals for myself as well when trying to achieve long term goals. For example, if your goal is to get fit, you should set monthly goals that will help you on your way to that objective. Like planning to work out three times a week or trying to eat in a certain way for the duration of February. This can be a more sure-fire way of achieving the goals you dream of!
This is maybe a really obvious tip but having some nice study supplies can make you feel super organised and productive. Having a pretty planner that contains your whole life keeps you constantly on the ball. Writing lists to keep you on track. Ensuring you're working on every part of your life (health & well-being) you'll be able to cope with the stresses of being an online uni student. Some planners even help you to track your exercise, water intake and gratitude. This could be an option for someone who needs to plan out their everyday in order to get anything done.
I don't think I could function without my planner. It's a huge pink one and since I started first year I've written down every little task I've needed to get done. It gives my week a bit of structure- like I'm in control of something even if I'm not in control of Covid. I really think I'd panic without one, I don't know how people live without to-do lists. On the other hand though, I can be a bit obsessive over rereading my To-do lists too much, repeating everything I have to do in my head too many times. Until I realise I've got nothing done.
But really, you should cut yourself some slack! It can be so hard to motivate yourself as student when you don't have a 9-5 routine. Remember this is your uni life after all- even if that phrase is a bit distorted with covid. It's meant to be a time when you get to know yourself, party, make mistakes. Prioritise happiness over all else! Be it a zoom call, living with your friends or having a few drinks (even on a Monday night). You'll never get this time of your life or freedom back. So, don't forget to take time to relax a little.
My last hack for anyone struggling with online university is to remember what you're doing it for. When you were doing your A-Levels you worked so hard to be in THIS course. It was what you worked towards and now you're here. Live in the moment because it seems like yesterday when I finished my last A-Level and left school. But also look towards your future. Whether you want to be a dentist, journalist or lawyer. Think of how it will feel to achieve the goal and to have a degree! Keep that in mind the next time you're considering sleeping in and missing a lecture. Have your other projects on the side too- for me, it's this site. Because there are so many things beyond uni to work towards those huge dreams you have.
I hope these hacks have been helpful and not just me stating the obvious. Recently my friends and I have been losing sight of what we're working for, focusing on negative things that are often irrelevant to our uni experiences. We've been chatting about it a lot and they've given me their tips for this blog. Whether we're not getting up in the morning when we should or not achieving what we'd like to have done by this age. So it's a little bit therapeutic for me. This is a time we'll look back, corona virus or not. And you deserve to make the most of it!
Let me know if there are any hacks I've missed in the comments...