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Kate is a Marketing Manager studying a Diploma of Social Media Marketing online.  In this post she shares her top 5 tips to getting back into online study after the disruption of COVID-19.

There’s no question we’re all going through an extraordinary time in our lives with the onset of COVID-19. This pandemic has had wide-ranging and lasting impacts on how we live, work and study and this will likely continue for some time.

What was happening in your life when it all got turned upside down? 

For me, I was in the last month or so of my maternity leave. I was looking forward to getting back into the swing of work. I’m a Mum of three kids under 4 years old and I work part-time. I love learning and am always seeking opportunities to enhance my skills and knowledge and I enrolled into online study back in late December.  I was fortunate to have had the in-laws over to help with the kids. I was all set to bite off a decent chunk of my online course and knock out some modules whilst I had the extra help.

One week into their two week visit as I was eagerly lining up the study sessions, COVID-19 hit.   Everything and I mean EVERYTHING went out the window. I was navigating a full household.  We were trying to repatriate the in-laws back to NZ as well as treading the fine line between panic and overwhelm. This mindset fluctuated daily as more information came to light on the seriousness of COVID-19.

About two weeks passed and we bunkered down and kept each other sane. We tried to limit the time spent absorbing the frequent news updates. Eventually, the in-laws made it home safely and the house was a little less full. I tentatively visited my course material in the quieter moments.  I read a few modules, trying to reorientate myself and my study goals. Doing this, I realised I was actually in better shape in terms of progress than I initially thought.  This was heartening.

Some more time passed and I kept up the small visits to the learning portal. Sometimes it was on my phone using the learner app, others I got a good session on the laptop. One of the silver linings in this whole COVID-19 mess was more time was available to me to do this from not going out (obviously). I also made an effort to cut down the screen time, got up a bit earlier in the morning or stayed up a bit later in the evening. I made notes here and there, jotting down approaches for the assessment pieces.

Slowly but surely, I got back on track. Assessments started to come together and I could set an end date to get them submitted. As I mentioned earlier, I’m a Mum of three kids under 4 years old so decent sleep is a rarity right now.  When my eyeballs can’t take anymore reading – I keep going back to the thought that my future self will thank me for the effort and sacrifice I’m putting in today.

Here are my 5 tips that you might find useful for getting back into online study:

  1. Start small – aim for reading one module per week – just reading to start, not necessarily working on any assessment component but just focus on being able to absorb and more important retain the information. Navigating the new ‘normal’ has taken some time to get used to – many of us have had family members quarantined with us as well as taking on the effort of home-schooling.
  2. Organise your study plan to take into account your changed circumstances – you might need to rejig if your work routine or return to work situation has changed. My ambitious online study plan has had quite the remodel but I’ll get there. I’ve been in contact with my educator so he knows I’m back at it. I use both the learner app and desktop platform depending on the time/ focus I have available.
  3. Celebrate the wins however small they might be – reward yourself once you get into the groove of working through more than one module or even submitting an assessment piece. Having something to look forward to counts!
  4. Use the community or group support – My course has two FB groups, one specific to the course and one aligned to the wider topic of digital marketing and social media. Online study can sometimes feel lonely and with the reduced interaction that COVID-19 has necessitated, these groups have been great to have. Interacting with the groups makes me feel less solitary in my endeavour and I can bounce ideas off of those in the same situation as me.
  5. Utilise playlists and podcasts – I find having some sound on or conversations (even in the background) helps keep my mind ticking over and also handy as a resource for ideas and strategies. Listening to interesting conversation and music is excellent for getting out of my own head (and worries!) and back into a productive mindset.  One of my favourites on Spotify is the Deep Focus playlist. Did you know there’s also a playlist of coffee shop sounds if that’s your thing?
Some episodes I have found interesting:
Podcasts

Dan Pink (best-selling author) was interviewed on the ‘How I Work’ podcast on how he organises his workday – https://play.acast.com/s/how-i-work/b966a1ba-4378-4c18-8a45-5996a634eb8f

One of the ideas he presents is the pattern of our energy levels during the day categorised as three levels – Peak (Morning), (Trough early to mid-afternoon) and Recovery (from around 3.00pm – open to ideas and being ’mentally loose’).  I’m definitely a morning person – after the first two coffees anyway. There’s also an episode on how to work from home including the apps that can help minimise distractions which are handy for adapting to online study as well – https://podcasts.apple.com/au/podcast/how-i-work-from-home-six-apps-to-manage-distractions/id1415266924?i=1000471365801

Playlists

  1. Spotify – Deep Focus – https://open.spotify.com/playlist/37i9dQZF1DWZeKCadgRdKQ
  2. Spotify – Intense Studying – https://open.spotify.com/playlist/37i9dQZF1DX8NTLI2TtZa6?si=0wagJ_PKQOWGDTT7PiDmDQ

What are your tips for online study? I’d love to hear them – comment below.

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