“I have a hard time motivating myself to write.” “I struggle to find the motivation to sit down and study.” As an academic coach, I hear these comments countless times from students. If I had the one infallible solution for how to motivate students to write and learn, I’m sure I would be a much sought after speaker, could go on a world-wide tour, and eventually would retire among the rich and famous! Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s quite how it is going to work.
Surprise, surprise: I sometimes (or always) get really distracted while trying to study. Yes, CHEM102L is important, but Instagram is more fun, right? I’ve been even more distracted than usual as I complete my online summer courses! Fortunately, I have two awesome programs for phones and laptops that help me stay on track for as long as I need. Cold Turkey and Forest have been (virtual) life savers.
When I first came to college, I found it challenging to balance various elements of my life. From class assignments and club meetings to my work schedule and meet ups with friends, it didn’t take long before I started feeling very overwhelmed. I started thinking: How am I supposed to stay on top of all of these deadlines? How can I figure out when I’ll have time to fit everything in my schedule? Eventually I developed a three-part system to keep myself organized.
I love organizing. I make lists. I make lists of lists. It’s basically an art form at his point. I am, however, an expert procrastinator. I’m also weirdly productive: I get most tasks done before they even hit my to-do list. Putting away laundry? Done. Writing a blog post for work? Sure thing. Editing a friend’s dissertation chapter? You bet.
Like many other students, I’ve recently had to move back home. While I was happy to be reunited with my cat, all the upheaval (and my inability to go get work done at Davis) has made it difficult for me to stay as organized and on top of my work as I used to be. I’ve been using Trello to keep track of all my work and assignments since the start of spring semester, but I began to think that something similar to a traditional planner might also help me keep track of what needs to be done and when it needs to be done. So, I turned to the Learning Center’s weekly planners.
Pre-quarantine, my chaotic schedule was kind of helpful. I just did whatever I was supposed to do at any given time and place so that things got done, ideally somewhere around the time that they were supposed to. This schedule involved frantically running around, writing papers in strange places at strange hours, and frequently checking Google Calendar. The challenge of showing up in the right places at the right times and keeping deadlines straight meant that I never really had much choice in terms of where my work happened. Now, there is only one right place to be. That has been a bigger adjustment than I thought it would be.
Hi! I’m a Ph.D. student at UNC, and I’m here to write about how I’ve been trying (sometimes successfully, sometimes unsuccessfully) to stay productive as a work-from-home student. I’m in the dissertating phase of graduate school, which means I am no longer taking classes. As a result, most of my work had already been self-motivated before entering quarantine. For me, acclimating to working in isolation has been mostly about protecting the routine I had before and finding ways to keep support networks alive while I’m not able to leave the house.
The hours seemed to pass me by as I worked. Afternoon turned to dusk, dusk to night, and soon I realized that I hadn’t stopped to rest, let alone eat. In the best cases, I had accomplished a great deal. In the worst, I’d done little more than “half-work” all day. By the end of my first week in quarantine, the worst case scenario had become my only scenario.
My alarm goes off, which cues Cappuccino, one of my cats, to commence her morning ritual of meowing very, very loudly until I get out of bed. She has officially made it to where the “snooze” button is no longer an option for me. It’s the same sort of wake-up call I’ve had each morning of this school year, so not much feels different at first on this Tuesday morning.
I wholeheartedly believe that the perfect calendar doesn’t exist. It took me a few years of trial and error to learn that a combination of paper and electronic calendars works best for me. This system doesn’t need to be complicated. In my case, I use Google Calendar to figure out where I need to be (as well as any recurring reminders) and a paper calendar for what I need to do.