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Tips For Staying Focused In Online Schooling

Man with hand in his Hands working on MacBook computer stress

By Morgan Noseworthy

We’re past the halfway mark of the fall 2020 semester at NAIT. Things sure are different this time around.

Online classes mean that interacting with classmates everyday doesn’t happen and instructors aren’t available for those quick in-hall chats. This can not only lead to feelings of isolation, but the ability to help each other learn is limited as well and our work can suffer for it.

After talking to NAIT students to get their opinion, here are some tips to staying focused with online school.

Set a schedule.

Keep the same working schedule you would if you were at NAIT in person. Don’t have class on a particular day? Get up in time for class anyway. Free period? This is your time to get things done.

Include time to relax in that schedule, and don’t let relaxation and work time cross. I’ll allow an exception if you’re hit with inspiration while relaxing. That’s how this article came about, after all.

Set goals.

The size of the steps you take doesn’t matter as long as they’re in the right direction.

Have a huge project due in a week? Set goals for each day. Break down a big task into smaller tasks that can be accomplished in a day or less. Complete one piece of it each day. Make a plan at the end of your day for what you want to accomplish tomorrow.

Keep your goals realistic and if you find yourself unable to accomplish them in your set time, maybe reconsider the size of the bites you’re taking out of that school-burger.

Focus on one task at a time.

It’s easy to get things jumbled up in your brain if you’re trying to do too many things at once, so prioritize your tasks for the day and focus on one at a time. When you’re working on any one task, the others don’t exist. Be one with the task. You are the taskmaster.

When that task is complete, then worry about the next one and repeat until your goals are met for the day.

Take breaks.

Sometimes when you’re stuck on a task it helps to take your mind off it for a bit and come back with a fresh mind. They don’t need to be scheduled as long as you keep them to 10-15 minutes. Make sure you stick to the time limit you give yourself and don’t take too many. Here’s some ideas for these short breaks:

  • Call your mom. How’s she doing? I’m sure she’d love to tell you about aunt Helen’s knee surgery or how her fall harvest went.
  • Pet your cat. She is the prettiest kitty, after all.
  • Go for a walk. You don’t have to go far, just go get some fresh air. There are other people out there! You don’t have to talk to any of them, but just seeing other people outside of a computer screen can ease those feelings of isolation.
  • Check out The Nugget Online. Oh. You’re already here. I guess you’re ahead of me on that one, you smart cookie you.

Get things done.

Feeling overwhelmed with assignments? I know I am at times. My advice is to just get them done. You have three assignments due in the next two days? Get a first draft done. Then do the first draft of the next one, and the next one. Then, if you have time, go back and polish them up before handing them in.

Talk to your instructors.

Your instructors are people too and they’re stressed out about this whole pandemic, just like us.

The instructors here in RATV are reasonable, and I’m confident yours are too. If your instructor can’t allow you more time for an assignment, at least you have that first draft I mentioned above, and a first draft is better than a zero.

Take time for yourself.

If you let yourself get too stressed out, your work will suffer. On the other side of that coin; if you take too much time for yourself your work will suffer. You must find that balance.

It can be difficult, but if you put in the work during the day and can look back at your day and say, “I’m happy with the work I’ve accomplished,” then you’ve earned that me-time.

Go have that beer with your buddy, play that game of NHL21, or whatever your interest may be, and do it guilt free.

Lastly, and most importantly: Don’t beat yourself up.

We all go through hard times, and sometimes you feel like you’re just not good enough, but letting that dark energy take over isn’t productive. You’re only one person; a worthwhile one at that, and there’s only so much you can do. This pandemic is hard on us all, and you are not alone. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a friend or talk to one of NAIT’s counsellors.

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