Learning remotely has probably played some part in our university lives or prior educational experience, so isn’t necessarily completely new for us. However, three months ago the concept of ‘learning remotely’ began to not just consist of going home to add the finishing touches to your final essay draft, completing a reading on the tube to class or catching up on a lecture at your favourite cafe.
Learning remotely transformed into doing all learning from your home. For some of us, including myself, this did take some rather abrupt adjustment, especially as I had to come back from my study abroad year in Sydney several months early and stay up until unconventional learning hours to watch lectures and partake in seminars due to the time difference! In all of our many ways of adjusting and adhering to some of the temporary features of the new ‘norm’, I think it’s fair to say we have all struggled.
Sleep deprivation, dreaded procrastination and TikToks
So far, I have found learning remotely an interesting experience. At first, this comprised of me spending some eleven hours a day on my laptop in the same spot, as well as being awake for up to three hours during the night to virtually attend my university in Sydney. The reason I was spending eleven hours on my laptop during the day was not because I had copious amounts of work to complete, it was actually due to sleep deprivation causing a lack of motivation and concentration, which led to the dreaded…procrastination! I would have otherwise been able to complete such work within perhaps six hours. Nonetheless, you may not be experiencing sleep deprivation through this same way, maybe yours is from binge-watching a new TV series or finding yourself trapped in Facebook video threads and TikToks until the early morning – we’ve all been there!
Making changes to increase productivity
To combat this, I decided to take to an afternoon away from my university work to create a weekly timetable, setting myself smaller targets each day that gradually increased in workload. I then went for a walk and got an earlier night’s sleep to start fresh the next day. Within this timetable, I was able to include some 2-4 hours of daily ‘me’ time, have at least one designated day off and still get to sleep at a reasonable time by starting university work by 9:30am, as well as sectioning out university workload into smaller chunks. This exact structure may not be your workstyle preference, although, implementing certain aspects, such as getting a good night’s sleep, breaking your workload into manageable chunks and setting aside ‘you’ time, will go a far way.
If you need slightly more energy in your life, try going for a morning walk, jog or doing other exercise before beginning university work, alternatively, add these as breaks throughout your day. Even video calling friends during lunch breaks, sitting in a different seat and, very importantly, getting dressed into clothes I would wear on a normal university day, really helped with procrastination not necessarily linked to a lack of sleep! There are so many ways of breaking up your days spent learning remotely, you just need to find which works best for you.
Lockdown learnings and available support
I have found the transition to learning remotely positive overall as it enabled me to discover and test new ways of using my time effectively and knowing where to get help if I sometimes feel the above is not working. It is important you are aware of the help your department and UCL offer to you to assist you through these difficult times. Outside of my department, I found the UCL Events & Activities and SU Online Project Active really help to elevate my wellbeing, whether this is from their Online Guided Meditation sessions or HIIT classes – there are many to choose from!
I, unfortunately, do not have a cure for annoying siblings or pets who want constant attention (as seen)…But I can tell you that finding your way to overcoming procrastination, staying active, keeping in touch with friends virtually and using the help UCL offers will go a far way in helping us stay motivated in September.