How to stay motivated in the world of online university

Megan Davidsonon 17 September 2020
Laptop on a dark wood desk with a lamp and a coffee cup

With institutions across the nation transitioning towards remote learning, here is some crucial advice to keep your studies on track.

I, like many British students, haven't the slightest clue what this next year is going to look like at university. Transitioning into digital and remote learning is daunting, especially with the lack of information that has been provided thus far (not that universities alone are to blame for this - we are all trying to navigate through an ever-changing pandemic).

Despite this, I think it is vital to create a routine, similar to the one that you would have developed by attending university in person. By this, I mean setting the dreaded early alarm, getting dressed, carrying out your morning rituals and getting started for the day. I personally learned the value of doing this during lockdown.

We know everyone loves having lie-ins, lounging in their pyjamas all day and having a good old Netflix binge. This sort of indulgence is great for periods of downtime, such as the Christmas holidays. However, during busy parts of term, it can negatively impact your mental health, as well as your academic attainment.

Managing your space will be equally crucial. I have taken advice from friends who have been working from home for the best part of this year, and they stressed the importance of creating separate places for when you’re working/learning and for when you want to unwind and spend your leisure time. This may mean having a specific room you dedicate for your studies, or even going to a local café to listen to lectures.

Another significant take away was the importance of taking your breaks and separating yourself from that dedicated space. At workplaces and universities, you are entitled to take a lunch break and get some fresh air. This isn't a legal requirement for no reason; it has an enormous amount of benefits, such as increased productivity, burnout prevention, increased emotional wellbeing and better stress management, to name a few.

Therefore, and I cannot stress this enough, you must mirror this during your studies. Take the time to make a delicious lunch, put on some music, go for a walk (or do whatever makes you feel good), and recoup, ready to carry on.

Finally, and most importantly, nothing, and I mean nothing is more important than your mental wellbeing. Of course, it is natural during university where stakes are high and the pressure is on, to have low moments, but it is vital to keep a check on your own mental health, as you would do for your friends.

Take the time to try and test what makes you feel good. For me, nothing gets my endorphins going like exercise. Whether that be a leisurely stroll, a dog walk or an hour at the gym, it's a great source of positivity. However, there are loads of things that evoke happiness, such as a phone call with a friend, a warm bath, or reading a great book.

While studying, you should be actively making sure that you set yourself physical and mental boundaries between learning and free time to strike that all-important work/life balance and ensure that your health is prioritised.

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Megan Davidsonon 17 September 2020