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How To Remain Productive During Times of Change

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An image of students in a University of Massachusetts classroom with the text, How To Remain Productive During Times of Change.

The University of Massachusetts Amherst, like many other universities, has decided to move to online learning for the time being due to the spread of COVID-19. This is a massive change for not just students here at UMass Amherst, but all across the globe. I have spent the past three years walking to class, doing work in academic buildings, grabbing food at the dining halls, and spending time with friends around Amherst. That is what I have become accustomed to, that is my normal. It is incredibly strange to think that I will be finishing up the final semester of my junior year without any of that. Truthfully, I am still rather numb to the reality of this drastic transition. 

Like many other college students, I have little experience with online courses, let alone taking them from my childhood home. Despite the change, I am determined to make the most out of this situation by placing a lot of focus and passion into my academics. I have been thinking a lot lately about how I will maintain my usual productivity under such different circumstances than I am normally used to.

So, how do I plan to remain productive in a time of change and uncertainty? Here are the three things I am doing to stay productive and motivated.

Keep a Planner: Planning Out Your Assignments and Goals

I have always lived by a planner. Now more than ever, I need the stability of planning to ensure that I am on track with my assignments and not slacking off. Nothing feels better, or more normal, than crossing an assignment off your list. Working from home, especially if you have further responsibilities in this space, it can be very easy to lose track of your schoolwork or simply lack the motivation to complete any of it. Having a planner can help keep you on track and make this transition to online learning much more accessible. 

It is also very important to set goals for each week. Want to finish an assignment before its due date? Or catch up on some reading? By setting goals for the week this helps you maintain accountability. Plus, it will keep you motivated to continue to reach your goals! While having a planner and setting goals might seem simple enough, it is a great way to stay on track during times of unexpected change.

Learn Something New

There is so much I have always wanted to learn, but just never had time for. From learning new languages, how to sew, and even how to code, there is so much I want to learn but lack the time to do so, until now. Now is a better time than ever to learn something new with your time off. Use this change to online learning to take a free online course, or learn something on YouTube — just do something to advance yourself and make the most out of this situation. I have always joked that I never had the time to learn how to cook. You bet I will be taking the time to do so now, which I am very much looking forward to exploring. Take this opportunity to come back to school even more well versed and stronger than ever!

Make Your Current Space More Work Friendly

I was concerned that I would have trouble focusing in my room back home. It has been years since I did homework in this space. It feels incredibly strange to think that this will be my place of learning for the time being considering I have spent the past three years simply sleeping in this space over breaks. To help make my childhood bedroom more of a workspace, I cleaned out my room, getting rid of the things I no longer needed to make space. I also cleaned out my desk and organized it similar to my desk back at school to make the space more inviting. Simply taking the time to make your new learning space more accessible and homier helped spark my desire to become more productive. I know it sounds like such a silly and mundane task, but I highly suggest trying it out if you find yourself struggling to adjust to your new work environment. This is also a great way to keep yourself busy if you find yourself getting bored! 

I know how hard this transition can be. There is so much uncertainty in the air and I am desperately trying to cling to any normalcy that I can obtain. While it may not be ideal to learn from home, or even accessible for that matter, we all must make the most out of this difficult time. Take this as a period to grow and thrive, not to succumb to the uncertainty. I hope that these tips help bring back some normalcy during this dark time. While we may not know how things will progress, remember you are not alone in your struggles.



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