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12 Tips for Online School Survival

Hey students! I am sure by now you have started “Distance Learning” online school. It’s going to be really different, maybe challenging, or maybe not too bad, but either way, some of these tips will help you make the most of the “new normal”!  I started school this past Wednesday and I want to share with you what I have been doing to get used to this new online experience. 

#1: Establish a wake up time and bedtime 

We will officially be social distancing at home until April 30th, but this online school situation could possibly continue for the rest of the school year. Thirty days is about the time it takes to build a habit, so start today! Start making yourself go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. For students, try setting your alarm for one hour and half before your first online class/assignment/morning meeting. For example, I have a meeting with my homeroom every morning at 9am, so I make sure to give my body enough time to wake up by getting up at 7:30am. Regarding bedtime, try to get in bed 30-45 minutes before you wish to fall asleep. Use this time to watch a relaxing show or even read a book, listen to calming music or meditations (more coming below). 

Make sure to also set an alarm for the weekends, for the same time, so your body gets used to staying on schedule. This will make the process of waking up easier as your body builds the routine!

#2: Make your morning routine fun and a priority

Thank you Reagan Doodle!

If you try to wake up earlier in the morning, this gives your body time to wake up and ease into the day without a mad rush. Try getting out of bed in less than 10 minutes, grab your favorite drink, turn the lights on, and then watch a show, the news, read, stretch, or do a short workout routine (favorite app recommendations below) for about  30 – 45 minutes. After that, you should get dressed and feel ready to start tackling your schedule 

#3: Make a schedule

Depending on if you have to attend an actual zoom class or not, you have some control of your own schedule. Making a schedule can build routine and make you feel more in control, which boosts confidence and productivity. Use an apple calendar, google sheets, or My Student Life app to block out times to work on school work. Try setting 1 hour chunks of total focus work time (no notifications, no phone, only one tab open) and then take a 5 minute break (grab a snack, fill up a water bottle) between each hour. 

Add time for creative work. Pick up a hobby, a project you’re interested in starting, and set time every day to explore it. Maybe even join an online course for your project or hobby to learn how to improve.  If you have started your own small business, passion project, etc. or want to become inspired by hearing from R.E.A.L girls, reach out to me and request to join my R.E.A.L Girls Online Community today! 

Add time to try an online workout class or make your own. Instagram Live and IGTV is a great source to check out. See HuffPost listing 50 different workouts to try online. Check out the following Instagram Lives and IGTV: Athleta, GrooveRyde, DoYouRumble, ModoYoga, and AloYoga

#4: Start using a calendar

I love my apple calendar on my phone and computer because I can simply access and edit it whenever and wherever. It syncs between all devices and even though you might not be going to appointments out of the house, you can stil schedule class time/online meetings/important due dates. You can even color code different types of events, so you can quickly glance and realize what’s happening that day.  

#5: Use a paper planner or online app 

Right now, so much seems out of our control. We need to focus on what we CAN control. To help ease stress, make sure you are staying on top of your work by writing down all your assignments and checking them off as you go. 

I like to keep my planner online so I can access and edit it from anywhere (phone + computer) at any time. I use Taskade, which is really a website and app for business teams to be able to connect even if they live in different places. Taskade can also be used for ToDo lists and making mind maps to help you organize, plan, and work ahead in homework assignments. Check out their templates to find one that will work for you! 

#6: Take time to rethink the virus with a new attitude

Take time to be thankful for the slowed down schedule. We are given more time at home and we should use it wisely to reflect, evaluate your life at the moment, continue to spread gratitude, practice mindfulness and get back to work. 

Become an email subscriber to these various websites (Thrive Global, MindBodyGreen, Teen Breathe, Well + Good)  that will deliver helpful information about the virus and will give advice on coping and how to get familiar with the “new normal”. They provide a helpful balance of information and helpful ways to approach the news. Also, they give inspiration that will help you to keep a good attitude. 

#7: Start meditating, even 5 minutes can improve focus and decrease stress

Try Calm and check out “more” (at the bottom of the app) to set mindfulness notifications for a certain time to remind you to become present. Set this reminder before starting work or during a time you will most likely be taking a break.

#8: Start a journal

Try the Five Minute Journal, it takes you through different questions, the first three are answered in the morning and the last two are answered before bed. It allows you to set intentions and then reflect on those at the end of the day. You can also try making a bullet journal or and find inspirations for prompts.

#9: Schedule coffee dates or catch up calls with friends online

Apps such as Zoom or Gather help us to keep celebrating birthdays, family gatherings, holidays or just wanting to catch up with friends! Take a break and see if your friends want to meet up, virtually of course, to talk and check in. These are my camp friends and I miss them (thank you Maren for the photo)!

#10: Make your study space inviting

Clean it out, organize old papers, pens, and notebooks. Try losing your book bag by organizing your books and notebooks into your desk and study area. Maybe even try to reinvent your room by finding a new table/area to work on. If you are trying a new study area in your room, try sitting and facing a different wall or window for a fresh perspective. 

If you would like some inspiration, check out this video of my desk! 

#11: Rethink your note taking ways

Try taking notes in different ways, such as digital notes. One Note or Notability allows you to make shapes, add images, and type wherever on the page. If you don’t like digital, try writing your notes on blank paper to push yourself to become creative and incorporate the text visually so you understand and break down the information. This is what works the best for me!  If you need inspiration, check out my digital templates here or here.

A lot of my classes will have open note assessments, so taking time to improve your note taking (the old fashion way with pen and paper) can help you grasp the information, make it easier to see main ideas, and find information more quickly for online assessments. Use different colored pens and highlighters, even sticky notes!

#12: Try studying with the Active Recall Method

Have your teachers announced if you will be taking assessments or not? Even if they said you will be taking open-note assessments, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook for studying. Try using the Active Recall Method – split up your page into two vertical sections, one section will have a list of questions, and the other side has the answers. Start round 1, cover the side with the answers and see if you can answer the questions. Mark each question with a 1, 2, or 3. ‘3’ = you know the answer by heart, not many questions will receive a ‘3’ on your first round. A ‘2’ = you knew half of the questions, some of the answer was unclear though.  A ‘1’ = you couldn’t answer the question. After round 1, you need to go back, starting with questions with a ‘1’ or ‘2’, and review the answers. Read the answer, say it aloud, repeat this until you can repeat the answers without looking. Make sure, before you finish studying for the day, to review questions with a ‘3’ as well.

** HUGE TIP! If you need help outside your teacher’s normal online office hours, please check out my favorite online go to student support: Varsity Tutors. Varsity Tutor connects expert teachers and professors with you to assist you in any subjects, all online. You can work one on one with a virtual tutor through their “Instant Tutor sessions” to work through a quick homework question you can schedule more in depth help on a regular basis by requesting a tutor to work with on a recurring basis.  Varsity Tutors is like the ‘Uber’ of tutoring – just a phone call away. 

Hope these were helpful! Comment how you’re approaching online learning. What’s working for you that you would like to share? What do you need to do better?

~ Charlotte

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