How to Stay Productive During Online...

How to Stay Productive During Online School

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By Olivia Condlln-Wilby

Online schooling can be challenging – especially if you’re beginning with a new stage of your educational career. Many people never anticipated that their college or university experience would involve Zoom meetings and online discussion posts. Some students struggle to stay focused and motivated when classes happen remotely. In particular, asynchronous (i.e., untimed and unscheduled) lessons can be difficult. How do you hold yourself accountable for attending class if there’s no one taking attendance? What motivates you to keep going after a full day on Zoom?

If you’re struggling to answer these questions, don’t worry. You’re not alone. Fortunately, there are a few strategies you can use to be productive and organized during online school.

  1. Find a Place to Study

When you’re doing school from home, it can feel like every part of your life – work, school, family, friends – blends together. It can be tough to stay motivated when you’re trying to be productive. At the same time, it can feel like you never have time to relax. It’s as if you’re living in a classroom instead of your home.

Try to create a separate study space. Ideally, it will be somewhere private and free of distractions. Use that space only for studying and nothing else. Avoid using the couch or a bed, as your brain associates those things with relaxation.

Creating a distinct area for studying may help you stay more focused during the school day. It will allow you to concentrate on the task at hand, and you’ll be able to step away from school at the end of the day rather than feel like it follows you everywhere.

  1. Create a Routine

Some people enjoy the flexibility that online learning provides. However, some students struggle to engage with classes when they have so much freedom. If you can listen to a recorded lecture or read through some PowerPoint slides whenever you want, you may find yourself pushing them back over and over again – until the night before the big essay is due or the week of the final exam.

It might be helpful to design a schedule. Think about your academic style. How long can you sit still at a time? How much reading can you do before you need a break? Sit down with a pen and paper or use your computer to create a daily and weekly routine. Set aside time for completing lesson modules, working on assignments, studying for tests and, importantly, taking breaks.

If you can stick to a daily routine, it may help you stay organized and stop procrastinating. School may be online, but you should still think of each weekday as a school day. What time would school start if you were doing it in person? What time would it end? Use those times as guidelines for your self-imposed schedule. You may find it gets much easier to stay on top of things and meet your deadlines.

  1. Take Notes

With online school, students often have the luxury of re-watching lectures whenever they want. This has led some students to stop taking notes. They think, what’s the point? And while that question makes total sense, there are benefits to taking notes the old-fashioned way – with a pen and paper.

In general, taking notes allows you to identify essential course concepts, simplify complicated ideas and develop study materials as you complete each lesson. Research shows that taking notes with a pen and paper enables students to be more productive and recall information more easily. In addition, you are less likely to get distracted when you are using the pen-and-paper method, whereas a laptop or tablet offers social media and other apps to steal your focus.

Be Kind to Yourself

We have all lived through a global pandemic for almost two years now. It would be an understatement to say that it hasn’t been easy. If you are struggling to be as productive and organized as before, don’t be too hard on yourself. Find a space where you can focus, manage your time, and engage as much as possible with every course. Most importantly, remember to take breaks and communicate with your instructors if you’re having a problem.



Career Technical Institute. (n.d.) 10 Tips for Staying Productive When Studying Online. https://careertechnical.edu/blog/10-tips-for-studying-online/

Pearson PTE. (n.d.) Being Productive While Online Learning. https://www.pearsonpte.com/articles/being-productive-while-online-learning

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