Considering the past college year has been spent online, you’ve probably adjusted to ‘the new normal’ pretty well by now. But, if you’re still getting to grips with online learning keep reading! Student Ambassador Nsikak Nyah from Nigeria shares his tips to keep you tipping along!

You’d probably agree with me when I say that online learning can be boring compared to being in a physical classroom. Online classes come with a lot of distractions, sometimes a quick glance at my phone could turn to 30 minutes on social media and other times it’s me battling with my eyelids to stay awake. The need for personal discipline is imperative while learning online.

Over time, I had to cultivate certain habits that kept me productive all through the academic year and I was thankful for them. Here are the ways I tried to stay productive while learning online.

Oh yes, you read that right, sleep! I probably sound like a lazy student now but when your body is well-rested you become more productive and your brain memory is enhanced. Never underestimate the benefit of a good night’s sleep. Make it a priority to always get adequate rest before your lecture days.

I had lectures three times a week, Wednesday to Friday, while the remaining two days and weekends were used judiciously to handle assignments and course work. Most importantly, I decided never to overwork myself the day before any lecture. This might seem a bit too much to you but if I’m going to sit for long hours staring at a bright screen, listening to lectures while trying to achieve maximum concentration with an aching back and butt then I will do anything to get my body well-rested and pumped.

Grab some Zs (photo: valeriimingirov vis Canva)

A major benefit of waking up early is reduced anxiety, you have ample time to meditate and plan out your day. I’m not a big fan of this so an alternative for me is some light bodyweight exercises to prepare my body for the task of the day. Feel free to try this, it works!

As humans, sometimes we exaggerate our abilities by trying to fill our day with lots of activities, the problem with this is that we end up overwhelmed which ultimately leads to low productivity. Here’s what you should do; make a to-do list and include the top three things that will move you closer to your goal for the day.

If the tasks you set out are gigantic, break them down into smaller tasks and start with the hardest one while your energy level is high. As humans, we do not have unlimited willpower, so starting out with the hardest task will enable you to use a better percentage of your energy to carry out the task while leaving simpler tasks for when your energy bar is a little low.


The essentials (photo: nadianb via Canva)

As students, we sometimes find it more interesting to stare at the ceiling than to listen to long hours of lectures. A lot of the time when I’m in class, my mind drifts away to beautiful imaginations, like picturing myself in Oscar-worthy scenes – which are sadly irrelevant to the moment. Just sitting and listening to lectures won’t do it, so I devised a strategy to help me stay alert and follow lectures.

I always make sure I have a pen and a notepad to jot down key points from my lectures, I also ask questions to gain clarity on what is being taught. This helped me stay present in the moment, rather than just sit in class believing my brain would retain all the information.

The most important meal of the day (photo: vm2002 via Canva)

Our brain needs glucose to function well which we get only when we eat. Most of the time we get busy trying to meet deadlines and carry on with daily tasks without breakfast or even go without food for the whole day!

Keep healthy fruits around you before your meal is ready. An apple a day keeps the Doctor away they say. Bananas are also good energy boosters. You’re probably thinking all this seems a little unnecessary but, staying hungry for long periods of time can prevent you from concentrating on the task at hand.

As the saying goes, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. We get little dopamine hits from doing activities that require little or no effort to do, that’s why we can get addicted to social media or streaming Netflix.

If you can restructure your mind to use these activities as a reward mechanism instead of pleasure, you will find yourself having enough discipline to stick to your daily tasks while also increasing your brain memory, ultimately achieving greater productivity. This could be difficult at first but when your mind knows that the reward for finishing a task is leisure time, you will be more motivated to finish your tasks.

I’m of the opinion that nothing is impossible when you set your mind to it. These six tips helped me stay productive with my online classes. To be honest, it was not easy when I started but with determination, I got through.

I challenge you today to start your journey to productivity with these tips. Good luck!

Nsikak is pursuing a Master of Science in Quantity Surveying at Limerick Institute of Technology.