Based on my conversations with my peers and upperclassmen friends alike, online school has been quite a challenge for many of us. It has definitely been tough for me to adjust to the difficulty and amount of college class content, and it's draining to do everything from the vicinity of my small room. I can't compartmentalize my life anymore, and am constantly sitting at my desk trying to check things off a seemingly eternal to-do list. I still have a ton of backlogged work to complete as the end of the semester approaches, and I'm already wondering how I'll make it through to the other side.
But, as finals season approaches, the reality is probably that the coming days will be full of late nights, caffeine overdrives, and trying to survive on naps in between our last few classes. I'm not here to tell you "don't procrastinate!" or "get a proper night's sleep!" That method just doesn't work for everyone—myself included. If there's anything I've learned in my first semester of college, it's that the popularized ideal routine of someone who "has their life together" just isn't attainable for some people.
And that's okay!
Do what works best for you, but I want to encourage you guys to try to do just three things that I've learned from some of my upperclassmen friends and my experiences:
1. If your tiredness is impacting your ability to concentrate on what you're doing, just put it down and take a break.
I used to be the kind of student who just pushes through to get things done, even if it means dozing off in the middle of doing something or barely retaining anything. I realized that this just ends up being counterproductive, since I could have just used that time to take a nap or get some rest instead of trying to cram information that doesn't remain for longer than a few minutes into my head. Unless you're trying to meet a hard deadline, be a bit kinder to yourself and rest, even for just 10 minutes.
2. Set a timer for 5 minutes, flop onto your bed or couch, and just breathe.
I do this when I feel myself getting overwhelmed by the amount of things I need to get done. I start to get jittery and feel panic rising in my chest. I've realized that this is my cue to step away from my laptop and force myself to do nothing for a little while. This is my little "reset" time to recollect myself before I try to get back to work.
3. Study with a small group of friends to hold each other accountable (or alternatively, to struggle together).
Studying in groups didn't always work out well for me in high school, since my friends and I would usually end up distracting each other if we were studying for different classes during finals weeks. Now that school is completely online, however, attending classes with no face-to-face meetings and then needing to study alone afterwards has severely and negatively impacted my mood. Fortunately, I've been able to make friends who are willing to study or do schoolwork with me through a Zoom call or Discord server. Just seeing them also being productive on a voice channel or a video call with me, even if we're all muted, is enough to encourage me to keep pushing through my own studies.
And of course, I will annoy you about this: drink water, eat something, take power naps here and there, and take a few minutes every so often to get up, stretch, and rest your eyes. Just remember, one way or another, this will come to pass. We can do this!