Hello everyone!

Let’s be honest: the remote learning environment isn’t the best…. There are so many distractions that keep you from either focusing in class, like your family or phone (come on, admit it, you’ve spent more time paying attention to your phone than you do in class), or from actually getting your work done outside of class. I am undoubtedly susceptible to the same issues, but I do a number of things to combat the chaos. I have ten tips to help you survive during this indefinite period of remote learning, and they have definitely helped me out! I hope you can use at least a few of these to help improve your at-home learning experience.

  1. Make a Google Calendar.

This one is a lifesaver (hence why I put it first)! I didn’t use to do this, but ever since I got into college, it has absolutely helped me stay motivated and organized. Use whatever Google account you have and use the calendar function (or if you have some other calendar, you can use that too!). I put all my classes all week in as well as all major events happening in the week, like meetings or tutoring or my work hours. I even put in time to hang out with friends, just to make sure I don’t forget! Since everything we are doing is online now, it is easier to forget an assignment here or there lost in the shuffle. If you make sure you aren’t forgetting anything important through the notifications from Google Calendar, a huge amount of stress is taken off your shoulders.

What a Google Calendar looks like
What a Google Calendar looks like

2. Make Daily Homework Lists.

    I bought a few small lined notebooks (maybe the size of an index card) at the beginning of the year, and every day I write down a list of things to do: homework assignments due the next day, reading, even chores. Keeping a list like this and checking it off one by one is honestly the best way to make sure you have everything done that needs to get done by the end of the day. A few minutes of looking through Canvas (or whatever you use) and writing down assignments could be the difference between a good grade and a bad grade, especially if it’s due to missing assignments. On the weekends you can even make a list that gives you a headstart on next week’s assignments!

    3. Find Time to FaceTime Friends.

      I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not my favorite thing to FaceTime. I much prefer face-to-face interaction. However, since that is unreasonable (at least in some states, like California), I started video chatting with my friends at least once a week, even for as little as 45 minutes, and it has honestly become a bright point. Human interaction is crucial to our mental health, and I always feel so much better after talking to someone, even if it’s through a screen. I am then more motivated to do the work I actually need to get done! I encourage you to find a friend who will commit to a weekly video-chat talk!

      4. Do Something Creative.

        Whether it’s once, twice, or daily, find some time (no matter how short) in the week to do something creative. Whatever that looks like is up to you! For me it’s either reading a book, drawing something, coloring, taking photos, and maybe writing a little story. It’s important during this time to do something you enjoy and something non-academic. The monotony of remote learning is easy to fall into; break out of that monotony by pursuing some creative passion, even if you don’t think you’re any good at it. All you’re doing is giving variety to your life, reawakening a part of your mind that needs to be active. Who cares if it’s done beautifully, as long as it gets done!

        A picture of Ethan's drawing of a leopard. The spots are distinctively black, and the fur is peachy-orange. The leopard's eyes are bright green. Caption: Do something creative!
        Do something creative!

        5. Exercise Exercise Exercise.

          This one sounds difficult. For a lot of people, it might sound like an overused recommendation, but it is honestly so important. I have definitely found that out in my life. Let’s be honest: you’re either sitting in a chair or laying down for most of the day during classes. Your body isn’t made to do that. You need to be moving, get blood flowing. If you don’t do it for the physical benefit, think about the mental help it gives! Even just going for a brief walk outside can clear the mind, help you think things through, and generally lift your spirits! It’s good to be out in God’s creation and ponder his power! If you’re really brave, try running. It can be a bit rough at times, but you always feel so good afterwards.

          A pair of orange athletic shoes with a sports watch leaning against the side of the foremost shoe.

          6. Listen to Music.

          This one kind of feeds into the previous recommendation: listen to music! You can do this laying in bed, in between classes, the shower, or on a run. And I don’t mean just the music you always listen to. That’s good and all, but try to push yourself; listen to something new, something you don’t normally listen to. If your playlist is mostly rap, try listening to film scores, or Bach, or Mozart. If your playlist is mostly country, maybe branch out to Latin pop, or French pop. Varying your music tastes and seeking out new music provides for more variation, and, during a time when we are sitting in front of a computer screen all day every day, we need as much variation as we can get so we don’t lose our minds. I have found that when I go to music places I am unsure of, I find some amazing songs! I recommend you try it too.

          A photo of a Macbook with an orange/red iPhone set on top of it, with a pair of airpods nearby
          Listen to music, and expand your genres

          7. Keep a Notebook of Blessings and Thanksgiving.

            Let’s face it; this year (and life in general) is really hard. A lot of times, we forget about what we do have, and we forget about all the good things God has given us as we look forward to getting more from him. Keeping a small notebook of blessings and thanksgivings has helped me be more keen to God’s hand in my life, providing encouragement throughout the hard times, and these are hard times. When you take a minute or two in the morning, think about the day before, and remember even the smallest blessings, it can change your whole view of the day. And, when we take time to thank God for all he has given us or protected us from, we reorient our minds to dependence on him. That should be our perpetual state of mind, but we all know it isn’t. When I started doing this, I began to realize just how blessed and protected and loved I am. Nothing is more comforting during this time than that.

            A walnut-stained leather-bound journal with a PILOT G-2 07 pen on top. The quote embossed on the journal's page is J.R.R. Tolkien's "Not all who wonder are lost" quote. See Google for the longer version.
            Practicing thanksgiving and gratitude with a journal

            Thank you for listening to my humblest of opinions on how to survive remote learning! Remember, even though times are tough, there is so much good we have in this moment, and so much good waiting for us in heaven!

            With all brotherly love,

            Ethan :)