Coronavirus hit towards the end of my third year. I had to face the prospect of writing two dissertations and studying for an exam with no face-to-face contact with any university staff, and more crucially, no library, no archives and no books. I’ll be honest, at first I really struggled. I had no motivation and seemingly all the time in the world in which I used to get nothing done. However, I also had a degree to finish so here are some things that helped keep me motivated and focused even if I couldn’t physically be at university.
1. ROUTINE. ROUTINE. ROUTINE
It’s not original, but people telling you to stick to a routine is a broken record for a reason. When I separated my morning, afternoon, and evening, it allowed me to have time to work and time to rest (watch Netflix), and allowed me to split up the monotony of the day. It creates something of a sense of normality and structure. You’ll also feel more organised, so figure out what works for you and stick to it.
2. SEPARATE YOUR LIVING AND WORKING AREAS
Make your bed every day, and then get out of it. Working from bed did nothing for my motivation, and I also really struggled not to slip into watching Netflix & procrastinating. If you are able to, ensure that your working area is in a separate room from your bedroom. If not, try to set up a little desk area. If you’re in halls, perhaps work from the kitchen. This ties into creating a routine and a vague sense of normalcy for yourself.
3. GET DRESSED
At the start of lockdown, it was so nice to just spend every day working in pyjamas and comfy clothes, but this did nothing to help my motivation. I feel so much better when I put on a proper outfit and look after myself. Getting dressed, though simple, is also a great way of breaking up the day and feeling like there’s a ‘work’ day & downtime. Get dressed. It’s good for you.
4. GET INVOLVED
Email your tutors. Participate in seminar discussions. I know that it can seem daunting at the beginning of university, but with physical lectures not being possible, it’s so important to make the most of the contact time available to you. Being unable to access libraries will be difficult so make sure to email your tutors if you’re struggling or if you can’t find anything. This helped me hugely when trying to find resources for my dissertations. Remember, they’re there to help you.
5. GO OUTSIDE
Every day if you can, go outside, take a walk, keep active. A change of scenery will be a welcome distraction from being cooped up in your home or halls. Cabin fever is very real, and aside from needing some fresh air, taking a walk may be your only true source of alone time if you’re living with other people. Make the most of going outside, it’s good for the body and the mind.
6. CALL YOUR FRIENDS
You may not be living with them, or able to see them as often as you’d like but put in the effort to talk to your friends. University is great but it can be pretty lonely at the beginning, and it’s easy to feel like you’re the only one in that position. You definitely won’t be, but it’s important to reach out to your friends, for your wellbeing & for theirs too.
Working digitally definitely has its challenges but try not to be too hard on yourself. It’ll take time to adjust and that’s ok. Remember that everyone is in the same position as you and best of luck!