Staying sane during a pandemic is hard enough, not to mention staying productive. With classes and meetings being online because of COVID-19, the way people work and study has changed. Outside stressors are frequently affecting people’s mental health, often acting as a distraction. Many people’s schedules are now different, as the pandemic disrupts all aspects of life. Particularly, the switch to virtual learning and work has forced people to change their routines and, in many cases, thrown off their productivity.
Personally, staying productive during the pandemic is difficult when I have online classes because there are reduced opportunities to change my work environment. Before the pandemic, I used to switch up my environment by studying at coffee shops, libraries or other public places. However, with COVID-19 guidelines and social distancing, I now have to rely on switching up my study space in my dorm to maintain productivity.
I’ve learned that the way I arrange my room is important to me staying focused and motivated. By maintaining separation between places to relax and study, I’m able to prevent distractions and keep my mind focused on schoolwork. For example, my desk is moved away from my bed to create a physical and mental separation between my workspace and my resting space. Additionally, I keep all school-related materials on or near my desk to further create a distinction.
I make sure to keep my desk clutter-free and strictly organized. I’ve found that if I have a cluttered space, it negatively affects my productivity. I keep my office supplies organized in designated containers and areas of my desk. Utilizing drawers to keep papers sorted – rather than letting them pile up – has helped me stay focused. For my online classes, it’s important to have a designated charging area to ensure that I’m prepared for class and my chargers don’t get misplaced. During my class time and study time, I’ve been extra careful to avoid using my phone or other unnecessary electronics which is especially tempting during Zoom classes or when I am studying alone.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, I’ve noticed that staying organized is more difficult when trying to manage ever-changing in-person and virtual obligations. The way I’ve improved my organization is by keeping both a physical planner as well as a regularly updated online calendar. Additionally, I use sticky-notes to keep track of to-do lists throughout the day in my workspace and to keep track of thoughts that come up as I am studying since that is quicker than stopping to update my planner or calendar.
Although I try to actively avoid clutter, I do have small things that bring me joy at my workspace, such as photos and small decorative items near my desk that add an element of comfortability. In particular, little things like my zen garden breaks the monotony of schoolwork and adds a personal touch. Other items like personal journals and some of my favorite books also add to my environment to make it more enjoyable.