Student Communication Ambassador Chiara Luongo shares the lessons she's learned in lockdown, and her advice on how to stay productive while studying at home.
At the end of March 2020, Bath Spa became a virtual university where teaching and learning moved online as a result of Covid-19. For students, adjusting to an online university and working from home has proven challenging at times as we have had to adapt to a different learning environment… our homes.
Personally, I struggled with this as my go-to work space is the University’s library, so working from home was initially difficult. Coupled with trying to live through a global pandemic, it has been a stressful time for all students, myself included. In this post I discuss the lessons I've learned during quarantine, and explain how I've stayed motivated and organised while working from home.
Lesson #1: Adapt
As I mentioned, I prefer to work in an environment away from home, but as a result of the current climate, I've had to adjust to working from home. Initially, I thought this was going to be difficult and I didn’t know how it was going to work. I tried working on my dining room table but I kept getting too distracted by the rest of my family, so my only other option was my bedroom. I ended up modifying the room by removing my large mirror from my dressing table to create a new workspace for myself. If this lockdown has taught me anything, it's definitely how to adapt to a new learning and working environment!
Being a student and working in lockdown has made me realise that I actually can work remotely. Before, I always thought I absolutely needed to work in a typical ‘work environment’, both from a student and prospective career viewpoint. A positive thing that I have gained from this experience is that I can now tell future employers that I would be comfortable to work remotely.
Lesson #2: Stay organised (it's the small things that make all the difference)
In my opinion, sticking to a routine is key to staying motivated and organised while working from home. In particular, I believe waking up and going to sleep at the same time is vital for any routine; whether you’re in lockdown or not. I would advise to avoid sleeping in, as it can make you feel sluggish and unproductive.
Additionally, I have learnt to stay organised through writing down a list of things I need to do and checking them off when I’ve completed them. This also helps to keep me motivated. I’m not saying make a list of all the assignments you need to complete in that month as that can be overwhelming. I suggest making a to-do list per assessment item, this way you can break down what research or reading needs to be done on certain topic areas. I feel much more organised when having my to-do list visually in front of me, as I have all the tasks I need to complete in one place. When you complete a task, it is so satisfying to be able to check it off your list, which makes you feel motivated to move onto the next thing on your list.
Lesson #3: Manage your time (and remember, breaks and rewards are necessary!)
Time management is something I have massively improved on. While studying, I use ‘The Pomodoro Technique’ developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, separated by a five to ten minute break.
For example, I'll set a timer on my phone to focus on reading a chapter from a book and making notes on it for half an hour. After completing those 30 minutes of reading, I tend to use my five-minute break to make a cup of tea, watch some TikToks or read through some of my emails. Each interval is known as a ‘pomodoro’, from the Italian word for ‘tomato’, after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer that Cirillo used as a university student. I personally find that splitting my time like this makes me so much more productive.
Drawing on The Pomodoro Technique, breaks are important to take in between studying as they allow you to recharge before tackling your next task. I also believe rewarding yourself after completing a large section of your work is crucial, as it will keep you motivated to keep going and complete your assignment.
I tend to reward myself at the end of the day, when I’ve completed all my work, by going out for a walk for my one hour of exercise a day. I prefer taking my walks in the evening, as it energises me after being sat at my desk all day.
Lesson #4: Appreciate
Finally, being in lockdown has taught me to appreciate the most simple things such as our daily allowance of exercise. It is something I look forward to doing at the end of each day, whether it's walking, jogging or running. It just feels so good to get out of the house!
I've also learned to appreciate spending time with my family (I'm fortunate enough that I moved back home from my student accomodation before we went into lockdown). Another benefit of this is that I'm enjoying all the home comforts and freshly cooked meals – bangers and mash, spaghetti and meatballs and Victoria sponge – to name a few!
I have learned to appreciate the slowing down of life during lockdown. For most people, but particularly students, we live such a fast-paced life – juggling university work, part-time jobs, socialising with friends and family – that we forget to slow down and take time for ourselves.
I've adopted the perspective that during lockdown – although I still have university assignments to complete – I'm going to use this time to recharge. And I believe everyone should try to do the same where possible.
We're all in this together
I hope you found my tips and advice useful to stay organised and motivated during lockdown. If you use any of these hacks or have your own lessons learnt during lockdown that you'd like to share, let us know on Instagram and Twitter: @bathspauni.
Disclaimer: The Bath Spa blog is a platform for individual voices and views from the University's community. Any views or opinions represented in individual posts are personal, belonging solely to the author of that post, and do not represent the views of other Bath Spa staff, or Bath Spa University as an institution.
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