Transitioning to online courses in times of uncertainty

Bryan Nolan

Having trouble staying motivated with online classes? 

Transitioning to online courses can be challenging. Since you aren’t going to a specific place at a specific time to do your coursework, staying on track can be difficult, especially if this is your first experience with online courses. But learning how to manage your time on your own is an important skill that employers look for. 

Some tips for staying motivated and on track:

  • Schedule a time to work on each course. It may be helpful to find a different physical place, even in the same room, to do different courses. Set a reminder for you to start and keep your books and other materials in those places.
  • Keep courses in a separate browser window. While it is tempting to multitask, having multiple courses, social media, or streaming service tabs increases distractibility.
  • While it may be tempting to work on classes in bed, sitting at a table can help keep you focused and maintain good posture. 
  • Take breaks. Prolonged screen time can cause eye strain. There are also browser extensions and apps that reduce the blue light displayed by your screen, which some research may suggest can cause insomnia and other side effects.
  • Reward yourself when you do the thing and be compassionate if it takes time. Change is hard but with persistence and perseverance, success is achievable. 

Changing behavior is a widely written about and studied topic, and there are research-backed ways to improve your success. For example, BJ Fogg’s book, Tiny Habits, explains how taking small steps add up to the change you are trying to make. He defined a simple formula for behavior change: “Behavior (B) happens when Motivation (M), Ability (A), and a Prompt (P) come together at the same moment.” Fogg has been hosting free webinars in response to COVID-19 pandemic, and also offers free 5-day Tiny Habits email coaching sessions that start every Monday.

The North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce also has a library of webinars covering topics such as getting the most out of LinkedIn, Understanding Your Taxes, and Substance Abuse & the Workplace. It has recently added some free webinars in response to the coronavirus geared towards small businesses that provide insight into how employers are impacted by the pandemic. The chamber has been updating its job board as well, a resource that can be utilized by students looking for work in the North Central Massachusetts area. 

It is also a time of transition and uncertainty – the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the way people go about their daily lives. “Yikes!” is an online course offered by LEAD: Let’s Empower Advocate and Do that aims to explain how life transitions, stress, and anxiety impact an individual’s mental health, identify strategies and resources, and empower individuals to practice proactive self-care. It’s also offering a free webinar series on staying motivated while working from home. LEAD was founded by a group of Leominster High School students in 2012 and provides training and curriculum to strengthen mental health literacy, promote lifelong well-being, and build community resilience.

Counseling services have transitioned to providing services remotely and can be reached by healthwellness@fitchburgstate.edu. Student Affairs can be reached at studentaffairs@fitchburgstate.edu and will be sending information about how to sign up for “Coffee Conversations with Student Affairs.”

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