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How to Stay Organized in Remote Learning

June 8, 2020  |  Category: Articles

By: Dylan Shelton

 

Whether by choice or necessity, remote learning is becoming the new norm. Students were transported from the classroom to virtual meetings with little to no time to adapt or familiarize themselves with online platforms. The same methods for learning that worked for face-to-face lectures may not apply to remote online courses, so it is imperative to modify our habits to achieve optimal levels of success. A key factor in adapting successfully is planning and organization3. The following are suggestions to ease your stress and improve your organization skills throughout your remote learning experience:

Maintain Communication

Regular student-faculty communication during and in-between lectures is one of the most important factors for both parties involved1. This includes:

  • Taking initiative – Remember that some of your professors are just as new to remote learning as you are and may forget to relay certain messages. Thus, if you need a questioned answered, do not be afraid to message your professors first.
  • Checking your emails regularly – This means checking your personal, work, and school emails. If a certain email address works better for you, notify your professors, and request future messages be sent to that address.
  • Meeting with fellow students once a week – Remember that everyone in your class has different strengths and weakness. Partner up with a few of your peers and try organizing virtual study sessions outside of class hours.

Try Productivity Apps

Mobile apps have the potential to help students manage work, school, and personal demands more efficiently. Here are 3 apps that can help you organize your workload, and increase productivity levels2:

  • Microsoft To Do – A free application that allows you to manage multiple to-do-lists simultaneously across multiple devices. Microsoft To Do allows you to sync your lists to any of your personal platforms, prioritize tasks by importance, add notes, set due dates and reminders, and share your lists with peers.
  • unroll.me – unroll.me allows users to prioritize, and clean-up their inbox to avoid losing important messages that become over-shadowed by unwanted subscriptions and spam. Try this free app and never miss another message from your professor.
  • Simpliday – For those who have multiple email accounts, Simpliday is an ideal choice. Not only does this app allow you to combine to-do lists, emails, and various schedules into one calendar, but it allows you to funnel emails from all of your accounts into a single inbox.

Adapt Your Physical Environment

Whether you are aware of it or not, your physical work environment (which may now be in your own home) directly affects how well you perform a task4. Although there is no golden formula on how to design your workspace, there is evidence that your productivity level rises in environments that reduce stress and falls in environments that increase stress4. In other words – make your environment as stress free as possible. Only you (the student) know what physical factors can reduce your stress, so pay attention. Here are some cost-free factors you can change that may be negatively affecting your performance:

  • Clutter: Clear your room from distractions, and in turn, clear your mind.
  • Lighting: While some work well with the maximum amount of light, others work well in a dimly lit room. If you’re unsure of your preference, try experimenting and taking note of which environment (bright or dim) eases your stress the most. You can also consider special glasses that block the blue light from your monitors and smart devices.
  • Noise: This again depends on the individual. If your environment is too noisy, try moving to the quietest room available. If this does not work, try blocking distracting sounds out with white or pink noise (try free online music sources or apps).
  • Seating: Although taking classes in a remote environment allows us to attend lectures from the comfort of our own bed, this may turn our focus to our pillow rather than our professor. If you find yourself dozing off during class, try different seating arrangements to find a best fit amongst comfort and productivity. Be mindful of proper posture and ergonomics.

 

If you’re new to remote learning or just need some strategies to improve your current virtual experience, remember that staying organized and planning ahead can be the most crucial factors in your success. Try your best to communicate regularly with peers and faculty, experiment with apps that aid in managing your workload, and make your physical work environment as stress-free as possible. Productivity starts with you, so make the changes necessary to thrive in a remote learning environment.

 

 

References

  1. Hammerling, J. A. (2012). Best practices in undergraduate clinical laboratory science online education and effective use of educational technology tools.Laboratory Medicine, 43(6), 313-319. doi:10.1309/LMVB30QRE3AIEUXE
  2. Rebedew, D., MD. (2019). Five mobile apps to help you organize your work and your life.Family Practice Management, 26(2), 11-14. Retrieved from https://www.clinicalkey.es/playcontent/1-s2.0-S1069564819300036
  3. Salazar, J. (2010). Staying connected:online education engagement and retention using educational technology tools. Clin Lab Sci, 23(3), 53. doi:10.29074/ascls.23.3_Supplement.53
  4. Vischer, J. C. (2007). The effects of the physical environment on job performance: Towards a theoretical model of workspace stress.Stress and Health, 23(3), 175-184. doi:10.1002/smi.1134