To the surprise of no one, online learning is an entirely new experience.
You don’t have classmates and teachers around you to motivate you and put you in the right mindset. You don’t have classrooms to take you away from the distractions like your bed, your XBox and your cat. Not to mention, motivation is a lot harder to find because there’s no one in your immediate surrounding to check on you.
As such, how you prepare for your class is important. You need to find the best way to stay engaged and motivated even if your teacher isn’t physically there.
So, here are 9 tips to help you prepare for a productive online class.
#1. Wake up early
While you don’t have to worry about being late to class because of the traffic, it’s not an excuse to wake up late. Even if it’s just an online class, you still need to prepare yourself.
How long does it take for you to shower? How much time do you need to prepare and eat breakfast? Make sure to take all this into account when setting your alarm. Not a morning person? There are hacks you can use to trick yourself into waking up early.
Some students prefer to just roll out of bed, attend class and go back to sleep — but doing so can be a trap. That 10 second walk to your laptop does not give you enough stimulation and movement to actually wake you. You also won’t have enough time to prepare your textbooks and notes which can lead to an unproductive session.
#2. Have a light breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and this is not just an empty saying. Many studies have shown that a healthy breakfast can go a long way.
Having breakfast not only boosts your metabolism and increases your nutrient intake, but it can also help you concentrate better, leading to an improved performance. Additionally, breakfast provides the glucose your body needs for energy. As a student, these are benefits you don’t want to miss.
However, you don’t have to cook a whole meal though. In fact, it might be even better for you to avoid heavy meals. Nasi lemak is scrumptious but it can be too filling, causing drowsiness. Instead, opt for light and easy-to-prepare alternatives such as fruits, cereal or toast.
#3. Find the ideal spot
Number one rule of online class — step away from your bed.
Sure, it’s convenient but it’s also the place where you sleep. It’s too easy to give in to the soft mattress and fluffy comforter and lie down for “just a minute”. The next thing you know, class is over and you’re marked as absent.
Instead of plopping on your bed, go somewhere else. If possible, dedicate a separate room for your classes. Make sure this room is free of distractions such as TV and consoles. Since you’ll be using your laptop a lot, try to set up an ergonomic workstation.
You can also consider a spot by the window. Energise yourself with the fresh air and soak in the sun as it has been proven to be a good remedy for drowsiness.
Ultimately, it’s really up to you. Find a spot you’re most comfortable with and set up shop. As long as it’s not anywhere near your bed, you’re good to go.
#4. Get your workstation ready
Now that you’ve found your ideal spot, it’s time to set up. Do you have all your notes and pens? What about your colourful highlighters? Don’t forget your notes and slides.
Some study materials may come in digital form. If possible, print them out as it can save you the trouble of having to load them. It also lessens the need for devices which can be distracting.
Arrange your pens and highlighters in a mug and get a stack of paper ready to take notes. Even if it’s an online class, it’s still important for you to jot everything down as it can help you recall your lessons better.
#5. Keep all distractions away
Distractions are the killers of productivity.
How can you trust yourself to study if your PS5 is inches away from you? It’s also all too easy to unlock your phone and scroll through Instagram. The only way you can avoid this is to store all your distractions away.
Do you really need your phone for this class? If your answer is no, keep it away. Is Netflix tempting you? Sign out and stay out. If possible, study alone and away from other people. You may not be the person who turned on the TV but it’s equally distracting either way.
Of course, we’re not asking you to toss your phone. After all, you might need it to refer to online notes and have discussions with your classmates. If that’s the case, find ways to be productive even when you’re online. You can also turn to apps like Offtime and Flipd to track and control your daily internet usage.
#6. Set specific objectives
What exactly are you aiming to achieve in your study today? And how are you planning to achieve those goals? Your productivity can be significantly improved with a simple but specific study plan.
Before you start your lesson, plan out what you’re aiming to achieve that day. Outline your lesson objectives, study method and the time you’re planning to invest. Make sure to include breaks in between to refresh yourself. This not only helps you keep track of your progress, but it can also be useful to identify problem areas.
An important thing to remember is to be realistic. Even if you did not manage to achieve all your objectives, remember that this is just a guideline. You can always revise your plan to fit your study pace.
#7. Prepare healthy snacks and drinks
Is the light breakfast not enough? Here’s another way to keep that drowsiness at bay. Get a plate of healthy snacks and some water.
Stock up on sunflower seeds and dark chocolate to give yourself a boost of energy and get your brain juice flowing. These superfoods are great alternatives to coffee and junk food and can help keep you awake and energised.
When choosing your snacks, opt for ones that won’t interfere with your classes. A salmon, while healthy, is a whole meal and may not be the appropriate brain snack you can chow in front of the laptop. Instead, go for light superfoods like walnuts and berries.
Water is also very important. It can help you digest better and it’s a great way to stay awake and alert. So stay motivated and combat fatigue with a big glass of H2O.
#8. Prepare a list of questions
Sometimes, passively listening in class is simply not enough to have a deep understanding of the study material. So, it’s wise to read through the materials before class and take note of all the questions that you have.
This list of questions can come in very handy in increasing your motivation and productivity. By coming up with this list of questions, you’re attending your lesson with a clear and defined purpose — to find the answers.
Not only does this force you to be more attentive and active in class, it’s also a great way to keep track of your study progress. Knowing what you don’t understand makes it easier for your lecturer to help you. If the questions aren’t addressed by the end of the lesson, you will always have the option to consult your lecturer.
#9. Inform your household members
It’s not their fault. Sometimes, people just don’t get it.
Even if you’ve told them several times before, constantly remind your household members that you need to concentrate during your online class and it’s crucial that there’s peace and quiet in the house.
If you live with your parents, chances are, they might ask you to do chores right in the middle of the lesson. Get ahead of this by either doing the chores earlier or promising to do (and actually doing) them later.
Finally, before class starts, put up a notice. Write on a piece of paper that you’re in the middle of class and put it somewhere where everyone can see. This way, even if they forget, they will know not to disturb you.
Online classes are hard. You need to put extra effort to be mentally present and alert. Otherwise, you’ll risk falling behind. Nonetheless, with these tips and some proper planning, you’ll be able to sail through your lessons. Good luck!