By Hao Liu
It's already been 8 months since Bellevue College officially made the switch to online. During this time, I found the most challenging thing is to keep track of my days and to use time effectively. For me, everyday going to different places could divide the time flow into different sections and in each section there was alway a priority for things happening at that place. This means I could have a fixed time to do one specific thing. For example, I used to memorize new words during the commute from home to the campus. Everyday when I was waiting at the bus stop, I could know clearly that it was the time to do nothing else but learn new words. Arriving at the classroom, I would know it’s time for schoolwork; sitting down in the cafeteria, I would know it’s resting time with friends; getting to the student program, it’s time for the club.
However, being stuck in the same room disrupted such a sense of rhythm. If you are facing the same kind of uncertainty and hope to find a healthier and more productive schedule, here are some tips for you.
1. Preparation time before you dive into your schedule
I find it very helpful to get myself prepared in front of the desk a couple minutes earlier than the visual class begins. Because it kind of reminds me “hey, no more texting, no more swiping.” Besides, it’s a good time to make a to-do list for the day.
2. Tomato clock
Tomato clock is a working method to help manage your productivity and attention. It works as you spending a period of time like 25 minutes focusing on just one specific task and having a rest at the end of each period. By doing this, you would not be burdened by several things on the to-do list at the same time. In addition, it reminds you to take a break regularly, which is quite necessary for your health. It has helped me a lot because I always forgot to stand up and got too much tension in my neck and waist after a long time sitting in front of the laptop. The only inconvenience is when you are doing something with a continuous process, the 25 minutes session might interrupt you and even waste more time to get yourself back to the state of focusing. In that case, I would recommend you to extend the time of tomato clock appropriately. Remember to extend the resting time as well. Usually the time ratio of focusing and resting is 5:1 with the focusing time less than 50 minutes. The purpose of the tomato clock method is to cultivate the ability of focusing. Therefore you don’t need to aim at the number or length of the tomato clock at the beginning.
2. Study with your friend—remotely, of course
Staying by yourself tends to make you isolated and less motivated to finish your goals. I want to recommend you to invite someone to study together. I have been meeting with my friends on Zoom after the quarantine started. Both of us open the camera and mute ourselves so that we will not get distracted by each other.
4. Do not stress yourself out
It sometimes happens to me when I lag behind the schedule or only have few things checked on the to-do list. Do not feel guilty or blame yourself too much if you are not effective enough. Instead, it would be better to reflect on your schedule to see if it is achievable or fits your learning style. Telling yourself negative comments on your day would not boost yourself and might affect your attitude towards tomorrow, which even lowers your efficiency.
5. Think about it, not worry about it
When you are reading this blog, please come up with three things you feel most worried about recently. Think of the moments you feel stressed because of these things and ask yourself: Was I really figuring out the solutions at those moments? Was I really planning things out? The truth is, most people are just worrying instead of thinking. A couple weeks ago I experienced a stressful time to “think” about transfer, change of major, my future career, etc. But it turned out that the difficult time actually had nothing to do with the reality but burdening myself. If you are experiencing the similar process, remember: think about it, not worry about it.
Hao Liu came to Bellevue College in the fall of 2019. She likes watching sunrise and sunset and exploring different landscapes in the state.