Do What Works For You: Our motto for learning online
We are so pleased to be OzTREKK ambassadors for another year! Levi and I are rolling into our second year of medical school and the COVID pandemic has almost been around for a full year now.
Of course, 2020 was a crazy year to start medical school. There were lots of challenges to overcome in the transition to online school and there were a lot of lessons to be learned. So, let us save you the time, the stress, and the inevitable tears.
Here’s how we survived our transition to online learning. Our motto? Do what works for you!
Here are five habits we have adopted to survive learning online. Our motto has been “do what works for you” and we hope that these habits will help you stay strong and motivated in crushing your goals for this academic year!
5 habits for online learning
1. Avoid comparison
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt
The biggest thing that Levi and I have struggled to deal with is comparing ourselves, our knowledge, our study habits, our work ethic, to others in the same situation as us. “He uses ANKI; she uses notion; she answers all the questions in the lecture chat; he has physical textbooks; she has 3 desktop screens; he stayed up ’til midnight studying and he works out every day; she did an all-nighter for this test….” The list goes on and on!
I feel as though I can say this on behalf of all pre-graduate school students—competition is an all too familiar foe in undergrad. Competition for rankings, for research positions, for recommendations, everything you can think of that went into our application. It would be naïve to fail to acknowledge that competition, which is bound to involve comparison, is an important motivational tool.
But here’s a reality check: We realize that it’s impossible to fairly compare our situation with others. Yes, we may share the same class schedule, same lectures, same homework, same evaluations, but no one’s situation is the same as ours. We’re already in medical school, we’re paying money to be here, we left our families and friends to study here, why wouldn’t we be trying our very best? Do we really need comparison to motivate ourselves? So, after months of sulking about, we realized that comparing ourselves to others just wasn’t worth it.
2. Make detailed, realistic schedules and to-do lists
What is more satisfying than looking at your task list and crossing out your final item for the day? Having a detailed and realistic daily schedule helps
- keep you on track and accountable; and
- set realistic, and achievable goals for yourself throughout the day.
What is your schedule missing? The little things! Two snack breaks, lunch, a workout, a walk or activity to get some fresh air.
Adding these little things into your schedule can remind you that nothing is a “waste of time.”
3. Stay engaged
After 3-hour long lectures, it’s hard to stay focused when you can easily stray your eyes away from the screen and to your phone or close your eyes for a little desk nap. We know the feeling well. To stay engaged, especially when you’re feeling fatigued…
- Hydration—have you been drinking enough water?
- Take 5 deep breaths in and out. It’ll wake you up and also give you a brief meditation to refocus.
- Make sure your study set-up is in a well-lit area. Is the lighting in your room setting you up for study? Or is it setting you up for a cozy nap?
4. Don’t belittle all your efforts
This is an incredibly important reminder for anyone already struggling with the fatigue of online learning. We know the days feel long, yet somehow not long enough to get your work done. We know how awful getting up to sit at your home desk feels, every single morning.
Every little thing you accomplish—even if it’s just in front of the same old laptop screen—is progress. It takes much more effort to stay motivated at home. Remember that! You are doing it, and you will get through it! Encourage yourself by acknowledging your efforts instead of belittling them with things like “I didn’t do anything today besides sit at my desk.”
5. Remind yourself of your why
This one should be self-explanatory. Beauty can be found in the struggle if your reason for it is worth it.
At the end of the day, this is all just what works for us. The most crucial thing to remember when it comes to learning online, or learning in general, is that this is a long journey. There will be trips, falls, stumbles, amazing highs, and challenging lows. The most important thing you can do is take care of yourself, rest, and make sure that you’re ready to face the challenges on the horizon….
Also, if you can, bring a dog with you… they love long journeys.
Levi and Jacqueline