Organizing is a big part of having a good routine. Preparation is key. Photo credit: Cedfrei Sarmiento

For Hafsah Omar, a student in the office administrator executive program, dealing with remote learning has meant coming up with a few organizational and time-management tricks to help her succeed.

Learning remotely has changed our usual routines and can lead to students to feel stressed, distracted and unorganized.

“Make it into a space that you can easily focus on the task at hand,” she said.

To combat stress Omar makes sure she has breaks during her routines. “I sit down and lie on my bed. I eat a snack and try to get myself re-energized,” said Omar.

Organizing is another aspect of having a good routine. Preparation is key. “I get my textbook out, get my papers ready, get my pencils ready, make sure my desk is clean, my workspace is tidy and I have enough space to write down notes.”

Sandy Ouellette, an event management professor at Algonquin College, also suggests students consider how they manage their time.

“Time is a precious commodity, and our students need to find a way to manage time to attend classes and complete their schoolwork, work at a job, be with their family and friends, participate in sports or exercise, and still have some downtime for themselves,” she said.

Online resources can be helpful, Ouellette suggests. “The Centre For Accessible Learning at Algonquin College that can assist students with time management planning. Visit them on the Algonquin College webpage and you can pull up templates that will assist with weekly planning and with semester planning.”

Ouellette stresses the importance of scheduling to tackle your work. “For those daunting tasks, as you would for a project, plan and schedule a time to complete smaller tasks,” she said. “Once it is started, it may go quicker than you think.”

There are things you can do to make your schedule or plan work harder too. “Put time allocation on the to-do list, so you understand how long things are going to take,” said Stephen Heckbert, a public relations professor at Algonquin College. “There’s a huge difference between ‘write Ph.D. essay’ on your to-do list and ‘pick-up eggs at the store.’ The problem is that they both taking up space in your to-do list. They can both feel overwhelming if you don’t put time allocation beside it.”

Another way to boost your routine is to eliminate distractions. “Delete social media apps on your phone,” he said. “Eliminate notifications from those apps so you’re not getting notified.” This simple trick will free you from distractions and keep you focused on your work.

With our lives being centered around school, students won’t be able to work effectively if school is the only thing on our list. “Make sure that you can engage with things and then let them go pretty quickly, find the mechanism that turns off work brain,” said Heckbert.

There is a difference between efficiency and effectiveness, says Heckbert.

“The efficient person answers every email and answers everything in a timely way, but they may not have enormous effectiveness because they may miss the big picture that they should really be focused on,” he said. “There’s a balance between those, but I always lean more towards effectiveness.”