I chose to learn remotely from home this fall, but that has come with a whole load of mixed feelings. I miss being in Boston and on campus so much, from waving to friends as I walk to class down Comm Ave to getting late night ice cream on Newbury Street.
Those of us who are staying home probably won’t be able to get the Boston nostalgia fully off our minds, but here are some ways I am preparing for a successful (if not particularly exciting) fall semester at home:
Setting boundaries between work space and relaxing space
This is something I am particularly bad at. The desk where I do all my work is in my room, just feet away from my bed. Whenever I get tired or need a break, I lay down on my bed, and my 15-minute hiatus is in danger of turning into hours of procrastination.
One tip I’ve found helpful is to set a timer — not for your breaks, but for your work time. It’s really easy to ignore a timer when you’re comfortable in your bed, but if you set one for however long you want to be working before that, you’ll get more done and it won’t seem as daunting to come back to the task later.
Implementing a routine, but with some variety
One of the toughest parts of quarantine has been feeling like I’m living the same day over and over again. For me, having a routine can be quite helpful when I need to get work done, but in my weaker moments it can also exacerbate my existential dread…
To address this, I try to set certain hours of the day when I will be responsible for working, but change that up on the weekends or on days when I have fewer commitments. It’s also very important to work in time to exercise, zoom with friends, and do other activities you enjoy (like baking, watching movies, etc.)!
Cleaning out my desk
This semester, my desk isn’t just going to be where I do my homework, but where I attend all my lectures and discussions as well.
While my workspace is not Pinterest-worthy by any means, I do want to have a space where I don’t feel overwhelmed by the number of miscellaneous items surrounding me. I still have several binders from high school lying around that general area, and while I don’t like throwing these away (who knows when I’m going to be wondering about the makeup of a cell again?), I’ve been working on consolidating and moving them away from my immediate workspace.
Whether you’ll be on campus or off, there’s no doubt that this semester is going to be a challenge. Just as usual, though, each of us is going to have a slightly different experience, and hopefully we’ll look back on this time and see how it shaped us for the better.