Hot take: How to survive online classes, working from home

Sophomore Emily Nobles works from home at her apartment in Upointe on Speight. Brittney Matthews | Multimedia Editor

By Madalyn Watson | Arts & Life Editor

Even though online classes have begun, many students are still trying to figure out what it means to work from home and how they are going to achieve it.

Being stuck at home can lower motivation, increase procrastination and make it all around more difficult to concentrate on the tasks at hand.

In order to help myself and my fellow classmates, I thought of six tips. Specifically, they are the six ‘S’s to help students survive online classes.

Some of these are not only inspired by others’ experience and my own, but also YouTube videos such as “tips for working / studying from home” from online personality Best Dressed and “how to be productive when working from home” posted by Mariana’s Study Corner.


The first step to having a productive day of working and doing school work from home is to get a good night’s sleep.

If you stay up until 2 or 3 a.m. binge watching your latest addiction, playing video games in order to ignore the outside world or spending hours scrolling through COVID-19 memes on Twitter, then you probably won’t wake up in the best mindset to be productive.

That means that the work towards a good day starts the night before. Setting a general bedtime can be super helpful when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep.

It doesn’t have to be an exact time; since life can be pretty strange and time can feel fluid when you’re stuck indoors, a range of time — such as 8 to 9 p.m. or 11 p.m. to midnight — will do.

This time or range you decide on as your bed time all depends on what your schedule looks like.

If none of your classes have set meeting times over applications like Zoom or WebEx, like myself, then you may not have to wake up as early as your friend who still meets with their class over the Internet at a certain time.

But that means that you have total control of your schedule, which can be extremely problematic or hinder your productivity if you tend to procrastinate.

Stick to a schedule

Of course, not everything about your day must be, or should be, scheduled beforehand. But it sure helps to have a bit of a guideline, especially when you are the only person holding yourself accountable.

Sticking to a schedule early in the morning, or when you first wake up, is the most important time of the day to stay organized.

In an effort to keep myself from looking at my phone in bed for too long, I have a short little schedule written on a post-it note where I can see it. It just consists of short and simple bullet notes of things you probably think you’ll never forget to do in the morning.

For example, mine contains: drinking a glass of water, brushing my teeth, showering, getting dressed, making my bed and cooking breakfast (in that order).

Even though it would be very strange for me if I forgot to do any of these things, the sticky note list is there to show me what my priority is.

It forces me to do my morning routine without sitting on my bed scrolling through my phone or spending fifteen minutes looking for the perfect morning soundtrack.

I also use this time to just enjoy silence and be alone with my thoughts. I feel like even when we are stuck at home or trapped alone in our apartments, there is this constant noise, whether it be roommates, parents, music or a podcast.

Taking this time to just be silent and get ready for the day ahead has helped me a lot with staying productive.

Stop using your phone so much

I try to avoid my phone as much as possible, especially when I first wake up. I even try to leave it somewhere in my bedroom that requires effort to reach when I start my day.

There is a fine line between staying updated on the state of your community during this time and getting lost in an anxiety-inducing rabbit hole of articles about everything and anything COVID-19, and I spend most of my day trying to walk that line like a tightrope.

In addition to early in the morning and late at night right before bed, avoid using your phone during the times you set aside for schoolwork and work.

When your phone is near you, it’s so easy to tell yourself it’ll just be a few minutes scrolling even though it inevitably turns into hours.

I have tried to make my desk space a no phone zone, so that I actually have to get up out of my seat and venture to my bed or the living room in order to start scrolling.


There are so many different ways to organize your thoughts and plans through to-do lists, planners and journals.

During the normal school year, I use an appointment book and a bullet journal to keep track of everything I have to complete on a particular day and all the events I have in a week. However, my appointment book is ruined with cancelled events and scrawled out ink so I had to find a more creative way to organize everything.

I noticed one of my friends using sticky notes to divide up their assignments and sticking them on their door, so I thought I would follow in their footsteps.

I placed the sticky notes above my desk and put the assignments due for this upcoming week on each note. So one note contains all my assignments in a history class and the other has all of the assignments for a science class and so on.

Another way you should stay organized is digitally, too! Clean out those email inboxes so you definitely won’t miss your professors emails.

I also cleaned out my desktop clutter and the clean slate has made staring at my computer screen for hours on end a little less stressful.

Switch up tasks

That afternoon slump can hit even harder when you’re stuck at home all day.

If you start to feel hazy or your mind starts to wander, it might be a good time to do something physical instead of staring at a book or a computer screen non-stop.

This could look anything depending on your lifestyle, like cleaning up your place, cooking something new, going on a walk (if you feel safe enough to, of course) or working out in another way.

There is a large variety of exercise videos to choose from just on YouTube alone, from yoga and Pilates to weightlifting and cardio. I have even heard that some people have started doing those ‘80s workout routines during their time in isolation.

Switching up tasks can even be changing from writing an essay to working on math problems. And you can even change locations in your place to help prevent this slump, such as your desk to the kitchen table, or vice versa.

Set up a reward for yourself

At the end of all your tasks and school assignments, plan a reward for yourself ahead of time.

It can be anything from FaceTiming a friend, taking a nice hot bubble bath, baking cookies or watching a movie.

By having something to look forward to, not only will you push forward to get your reward, but you will also be forced to get everything you need to get done by a certain time so that you can reach your reward.

Whatever you end up doing to get through the rest of this semester, don’t forget about your schoolwork, but you also shouldn’t forget about enjoying your time either.