HST student and Rewire Mag editor Eddie Carrillo lists his top ten tips to successfully study remotely, especially at a time when you can’t leave your house.
It’s March 18th, day four of total quarantine in Madrid. I went to the supermarket this morning dressed to the nines—coat, surgical mask, latex gloves, and a makeshift hand sanitizer necklace. I presented a final project online for my Customer Relationship Management class. I baked a bizcocho with my flatmate. And in about 7 minutes, I’ll take a break from writing this to join the rest of Spain in standing on my balcony to applaud our healthcare workers fighting COVID-19.
Life before the virus now seems dreamlike to the quarantined—distant, and paired with a newfound feeling of appreciation towards what was. But what was will come again, perhaps with a bit more mindfulness. And while there’s little reason to downplay the gravity of the pandemic, we do have the opportunity to seek a silver lining.
I’m four days into the country-wide shutdown. HST has migrated our classes to an online program, so finals are still in session. With ten days minimum left of the quarantine, I’ve put together a list of things that us students can do to be successful—and happy—while we study remotely.
1. Make a schedule
You have 14 days. Plan them out. In our normal routines, we have structure: hours for work or school, hours to be social, hours for hobbies, etc. Incorporate a sense of routine into your life at home—if you did yoga each morning before going to class, continue to do yoga each morning before you study. Without at least a small sense of structure, you might drift into a different routine: the endless sifting between Instagram, Twitter, and the Coronavirus live updates page (or is it just me?).
2. Mark off a workspace
Even with limited space, it’s key to designate a work area and a leisure area. I lose focus quite easily in my bedroom, so I always work at a small table in my living room. This allows me to mentally—and more automatically—shift into gear when it’s time to work, and disconnect from one while trying to focus on the other.
- Tip 1: Leave your phone in your leisure area while studying in your work area.
- Tip 2: Keep the space clean and organized.
We have a collective obligation to adopt the strategy of “social distancing” (click here to read more about how and why it’s effective). But luckily for us, social distancing is a lot less bleak now than it would have been had COVID-19 broken out in the 90’s. Our colleagues, friends, and families are in our pockets. My workgroup successfully completed and presented a final project this afternoon, while dispersed between Spain, Guatemala, Germany, and Japan. My family group FaceTimes. Call your friends. Send memes to your WhatsApp groups (all those Cardi-B-related are my personal favorites). Talk to people!
4. Take breaks
Whether you feel like you’re on a 14-day break already or the situation has caused you so much stress that nothing feels like a break, take the time to mindfully set time aside to relax. Put these times into your schedule. It’s easy to absentmindedly stay in the same position all day—don’t! Move, walk, stretch. Taking breaks will make non-break time more productive.
5. Start a new project
Big or small, we all have ideas in our heads of things we’d like to pursue if we only had the time. Now we do. Dive in!
Your mind will suffer if your body isn’t prioritized. I like to run, but unfortunately El Parque del Retiro is off-limits for a bit, so I’ll have to be creative. Click here to check out how a Spanish fitness instructor in Seville gave a class to his balcony-confined neighbors from his rooftop. Even if he isn’t your neighbor, there are loads of online resources and Instagram accounts helping to keep the isolated moving.
7. Set goals
Think about what went well for you last semester or last year at work. And think about what didn’t. With the fast-paced world halted, we have the time to reflect, to ideate, and to envision what we’d like the next phase of our lives to look like. Things change too quickly nowadays to build and execute a five-year plan. But what do you want to accomplish in the next week? In the next six months? Write it down. Short-term goals will help you study remotely in the most efficient way possible, and long-term goals will help you with your professional development.
8. Practice creativity
Everyone is creative, from designers to accountants. And we all have the opportunity to put a pencil to paper and see what comes out. Write a poem, a song, a short story, or an article. Cook. Draw. If it’s great, share it. If it sucks, share it anyway. And if producing it really isn’t your thing, then absorb it. Now is the time to start a new book, watch a new movie, or start a new Netflix series. Choose one you would have never chosen two weeks ago.
9. Develop a new skill
We have access to some of the world’s best teachers online. You can take a full beginner’s Python course on YouTube for free. LinkedIn offers classes online for what they deem to be today’s most in-demand skills. And platforms like Skillshare offer access to thousands of online courses ranging from graphic design to business analytics with a budget-friendly monthly subscription (and the first two months free). Give them a try.
10. Be kind
The above 9 items can help students. This one can help everyone. What’s needed across the globe now—and always—is empathy. It’s important that we understand that our own way of managing tough times might be different than how our friends or colleagues do. Lend an ear to those who need it, treat supermarket employees with kindness, and call the people who care about you.
Eddie Carrillo is from San Diego, California. He got his bachelor’s degree in economics from UC San Diego and is now pursuing the Master in Digital Marketing at IE HST. He’s a marathon runner, a writer, and spends a lot of time listening to music. Connect with him on Instagram, LinkedIn, or via email.