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Structure the Unstructured Time

During a time of uncertainty, it can sometimes feel like the whole day is open, and that being on-task does not really make a difference because there is always the next day. During such times, there are ways to stay focused, productive, and mindfully engaged.


MAP-out Your Calendar as before. Allocate times for classes, recitations, and labs. Use the allocated times to study, work on projects, and practice problems, even when progress is slower than usual.

LESS Can Be MORE: Sometimes, time does not seem of the essence. When this happens, try not to entirely postpone academic work for tomorrow. For instance, if you had planned to solve 10 problems today, don’t postpone for tomorrow. There are other things that will need to be done tomorrow. Do 3 problems or 4, don’t NOT do any. Similarly, read 2 pages of an assigned article, rather than NOT reading at all. You never know: once started, you might find that the efforts to stay engaged will meet-up with your perseverance to do more.

During a Mood Swing: Pick smaller tasks, such as gathering citations, creating the opening slide for a presentation, and sending a pending email.
Try sending an email to your learning instructor. Let them know how you are doing.

Virtual Check-ins: Whenever possible, schedule brief appointments with your academic advisor/learning instructor/faculty/TA to discuss your study plans or course content. Even brief appointments will assist in creating self-accountability. And it will make your calendar exciting while providing reassurance that you have things to do.

Virtual Group-study: In a similar vein, set up time with classmates to discuss class material. You will find out what you know and what you need to work on.

Eat Healthy Snacks. Indulge in treats with moderation.

Favs and Reruns: Try to avoid continuous streaming of favorite shows/movies. Use them as a reward to take breaks; however, be attentive to the length of the breaks. Don’t let watching one episode become one too many. Hold out some for tomorrow.

Friends & Family: Stay in touch with them. Let them know that you are well and staying focused on your work.

By Staff Writer: Dr. Rashmi Kumar, Associate Director of the Office of Learning Resources and Specialist in STEM Learning

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