It’s been months of social distancing now. Stay-at-home orders have gone through varying levels of laxity, but they haven’t quite gone away yet. In fact, all across the country, many students are finally beginning to come to terms with the fact that remote learning and work are here to stay, at least for a very long time. It’s not about how long it will be before we go back to the norm; it’s more like there’s a new norm now and a lot of things are being rethought and redesigned in a permanent way, regardless of how the pandemic situation unfolds.
It’s true; however, that the pandemic has taken its own toll on the ability of many students to focus on what matters, including classes and research. Given the fact that we’re getting into a new normal, the best way forward seems to be to find a way to make it work. For most students, their school responsibilities have not gone away, even as the school environment has changed drastically (one might even say it has completely disappeared). We’re all trying to do the best we can, but it’s easier said than done. We could all do with a few helpful tips on how to cope better during pandemic time.
Here we’ll look at some helpful tips for coping with the pandemic. Most importantly, we’ll talk about how you can motivate yourself and keep your energy levels high in these particularly draining times that future historians are likely to call “Covid-19 Time.”
Small Daily Goals
These times are anything but normal, so it is not surprising that your productivity isn’t at peak levels. Don’t worry about that. You can still work through it by setting small daily goals for yourself. These will help you maintain productivity as you will have something to work toward. However, make sure that your goals are realistic. Don’t set lofty goals that are likely to be achieved only in your head. Focus on the small goals you can easily cross off of your “to-do” list. Whether it is the assigned reading for your class, or writing a first draft for an essay, make sure it’s something you can dispense with a clear indicator of success.
Smaller goals not only make it easier to see the progress you’re making, but also help to motivate you as you feel a sense of accomplishment after you complete them. Make a short list of these every day and watch them fly by productively!
Make Time To Relax
While working from home certainly has numerous advantages, such as giving you the opportunity to stay close to your loved ones, it also has some challenges. For some, the challenge is procrastination. All your creature comforts are close by and you might not be motivated to work. For others, it’s the opposite. Now that you’re working from home, the line between work and home is blurred, which might make it likelier for you to overwork yourself.
If you’re the second kind of person, you’ll need to schedule time for relaxation. Even if you’re working from home, try to make a 9-5 schedule as if you were going to work. No work-related stuff before 9 and no work-related stuff after 5. That way your brain knows when to switch on and off.
Relaxation is very important as it allows your brain to recharge and get ready for the next cycle of work. Working from home also allows you to get a handle on when your brain is at its most productive. You can therefore concentrate all of your work around those hours and spend the rest of the time relaxing.
Try the Pomodoro Technique
One of the greatest advantages of being on campus was that you would often be surrounded by other students doing the same work as you. This would be very motivating and was likely to boost your ability to focus on the task at hand. You might not have that opportunity at home. It’s time to re-strategize.
Try to prioritize for bursts of deep work interspersed with periods of relaxation. There’s actually a name for this strategy – it is known as the Pomodoro Technique.
The technique involves taking a burst of, say 25 minutes, where you engage in deep work without distractions. You then take a 5-minute break. You do this for 4 cycles with the 4th break being longer, say 15 minutes, and then begin again.
The Pomodoro technique is very effective at keeping you motivated as it allows your body to get into a natural rhythm of deep work and relaxation.
Don’t Forget About Your Mental Health
It’s hard to stay motivated when you have a lot of stress or anxiety on your mind. It doesn’t matter what technique you use, your mental health needs to come first for you to be motivated.
You need to take care of yourself during the pandemic. Do anything you can, such as exercising every day, taking walks, doing yoga online or anything else to keep you physically active. You should also eat healthy and maintain a balanced diet. Don’t disrupt your natural sleep cycle, either. Make sure you get enough hours of sleep for your body to function well. For most people that’s between 7 and 8 hours of sleep every night. Take your time to enjoy the entertainment provided by social media and television but don’t get too absorbed in it; and avoid negativity online as much as you can. Most importantly, don’t spend too much time listening to demoralizing news about the goings-on of the pandemic.
Conclusion: Be kind to yourself
Sure, this article is about how to motivate yourself during a pandemic. However, don’t be too hard on yourself if nothing seems to be working. We are living in unique times so you can’t expect to easily achieve the same levels of productivity as you would have in less stressful times. No one’s life is normal. There will, of course, be days in which you’ll be operating at 110% and you’ll feel on top of the world. But there will also be days when just getting out of bed will be a great feat to achieve. Try to get as much of the important work as possible done on the days when your productivity is high and be kind to yourself on the other days.
Focus on adjusting to the new normal and give your body and mind time to catch up. Above all, be patient and trust in your ability to adapt. You’ll be doing well in no time!