San Francisco, CA — Welcome to quarantined learning, kids!
I switched to online school three years ago after freshman year and pretty much never went back, so you can take it from me: the transition to remote class is very strange. The challenges aren't more difficult than live school per se, but they are different.
Before you feel too sorry for yourselves, though, if your main concern right now is how to keep up your grades in online classes, then you have it pretty good as the world slowly descends into a state of hell that would make Dante’s "Inferno" jealous.
For those of you seeking to maintain peak performance in class, here are eight of my top tips and tricks.
1. Take A Walk In The Morning
We know that walking boosts your energy, creativity and productivity. Taking a walk around the block before your first class will help you establish a routine during quarantine and improve your work in an environment less favorable than a classroom. Just remember to keep your social distance!
2. Ask For Help
To ask for help in regular school, you could just go to a teacher’s office hours, and even if you felt a little bit stupid for not understanding the first time a topic was explained, the opportunity was always there. While asking for help can be a real nuisance, it’s much better than getting a bad grade on your paper because you didn’t understand the instructions. If your parents were all over you about study habits before the COVID-19 outbreak, imagine how they’ll be if they can watch your every move. So take the risk and ask.
3. Generalize Annoying Assignments
When I first started online classes, I would take way too long on some assignments because unlike live school, you don’t have teachers showing you the exact way they want it done. If you have a class where you notice that your teacher is repeating types of assignments (unit review, self-assessment, etc.), find your assignment of said type that got the best grade and make a template for it, so you don’t need to create a whole new structure every time that task comes up. I’m pretty sure even teachers understand that some of their assignments are pointless. Out of my three years in online learning, only one teacher noticed I used a template after I submitted eight unit review assessments and I was praised for not wasting my time on them.
4. Find A Way To Limit Phone Use
Whether you’re doing Zoom classes or just learning on your own, getting distracted on your phone during class is way easier now than when you used to go to an actual school. Find a way to limit your usage because that device can destroy the schedule you’ve crafted so well. An excellent app is Flora, which makes a game to discourage too much phone usage. You plant a seed to start the game and if you leave the app, your plant dies. You win the game if you leave your phone long enough for the seed to grow into a tree. As ridiculous as this sounds, the satisfaction of growing the tree or the guilt in killing it pushed me to stay off my phone during working hours.
5. Take Breaks (But They Must Be Off-Screen!)
Self-study or home-study can allow you to develop many bad habits. One of which is not taking care of your eyes. In the middle of doing homework assignments, make sure to take a few 5-10 minute breaks to rest your eyes and wash your face. With all those video calls you’ll be attending, you need to make sure your skin is looking as beautiful as ever.
6. Sleep Responsibly
Who hasn’t gotten so caught up in social media or a TV show that you suddenly realize it's 3 a.m., and you have to wake up at 7? Do not let all the free time make that a daily thing for you. Try not to deviate from your current bedtime too much. Being cooped up in a house for weeks and weeks is awful, but it can get significantly worse if you’re only getting four or five hours of sleep a night. If you’re behind on sleep, now’s the time to catch up.
7. Find Other Ways To Challenge Yourself
You will likely have excess free time during your quarantine and if left to your own devices, you will 100% waste it on Netflix, Youtube, Instagram, etc. Find new challenges for yourself. Since the start of 2020, I’ve figured out how to solve a 3x3 Rubik’s Cube blindfolded. I’ve learned about the game theory and statistics that pro poker players use. My room, which used to be so messy you’d think it just went through an earthquake, is now neat. And I’ve started to read up a little bit on psychology to help be a better athlete. I bet there are a lot of things you’ve wanted to try but haven’t had the time. If you suddenly find yourself having all the time in the world, use it well.
8. Slack Off
Let’s not pretend you’re perfectly focused even in a normal school environment. You’re going to slack off now even more than you did before. You’ll probably need the downtime to make sure you and your family don’t tear each other to shreds. Have fun catching up on your shows and videos. Just try not to go too overboard.