How to Establish a Routine in the New World of Online University

Establishing a routine in these crazy COVID times is challenging to say the least. Find yourself staying in your PJs all day? Breakfast at midday and tea at midnight? Here’s how I’m (attempting) to maintain some sort of normal.

Usually at the start of the week I make a quick list of what I need to achieve over the next few days. Writing down any deadlines, readings, society commitments etc. helps to give the week some structure and then other things can fit around what is already scheduled in. Doing a course with few contact hours means I usually have a couple of days with no timetabled university, so it is even harder to have a routine and find motivation to work.

 As much as it may hurt, I still set an alarm, so I don’t sleep half the day away. As a major foodie, my plan usually revolves around when I will be eating, so I start with breakfast for some fuel for the day. Then I try to schedule a rough time for lunch and tea, because a day of working seems a lot more manageable if you split it up with food breaks. It is also nice to plan to eat around the same time as housemates, so you have a chance to socialise and complain about breakout rooms between lectures.

Although it is tempting to spend the day in pyjamas, I always try to change out of them, even if it’s only into joggers and a jumper. And try to take my hair out of that three day ‘messy bun’ to wash. Showering, getting dressed and keeping a bit of a skincare routine helps it feel like a normal day and gets your brain thinking today might just be the day you leave the front door.

Trying to exercise in some form helps to boost my energy levels. Usually I will do a 15-minute YouTube workout or if I have more time, I like to go for a walk. Getting some fresh air is so beneficial for mental and physical health and gives some much-needed space away from staring at screens.

If I’m feeling like I’ve had too many ‘in the house’ days, I like to find somewhere else to work. I have the benefit of living in Headingley so there are lots of cafes to choose from. There is also the option of working at university if you’re lucky enough to get one of those coveted library spaces!

It’s super important to take breaks as well. It is easy to get wrapped up in working at all hours, especially as a final year. Usually, after dinner is the time when my housemates and I will watch a film, play a game, or go out for drinks. We also try to plan at least one ‘weekly activity’, for example: bowling, cocktails, a park trip, or brunch! We try to make the most of the places we are still allowed to go to. I find that I have a lot more motivation to work if I know there is something nice to look forward to at the end of the day or the next weekend.

However you are getting through the days is okay – you’re doing great in the circumstances! Don’t feel like you need a set routine in order to be productive because everyone works differently. Although, making a few simple changes or planning ahead a little might give some more structure in the world of online.

Header Image Credit: Psychologies