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June 23, 2020

Student Voice: 3 Ways to Stay Motivated in an Online Learning College Environment

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels

As my sophomore year comes to a close, I have been taking time to reflect on the quality of what I learned at college this semester. At home in San Francisco, I am grateful to have a stable living environment and technological access, which made online learning more or less straightforward and accessible. However, one of the things I found most difficult at home was staying focused and motivated. As I attempted to make the most of my online classes and assignments, I experienced many more distractions than expected. My family members and I were on different daily schedules, causing many noise complaints and less of a desire to study on my part. 


Thus, I was forced to create some motivation techniques to get my work done. First, I started implementing checklists into my daily routine.


Every night, I would compose a list of things I realistically wanted to accomplish the following day.


This acted as a schedule, where I wrote down assignments, online class meetings, and even non-academic parts of my day such as walks. Going through this daily checklist helped me to feel accomplished, get my work done, and even reach that satisfaction when I had completed everything.

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A second thing that I implemented to keep myself motivated was using walks, workouts, or snack breaks as “rewards” for completing certain tasks throughout the day. Especially during this pandemic, going outside for a walk has felt more exciting than before, so getting that break from screen time felt rewarding and helped me to stay energized for my next assignment.


Lastly, and less explicitly, I found that sticking to a “normal” college routine during the weekdays helped me to get into a groove of engaging in online learning. What I mean by this is waking up early, eating regularly timed meals, and sticking to a relatively uniform schedule, as if I were in class on campus. In sticking to this routine, I automatically felt more motivated to get things done in a timely manner.


While these ideas are certainly simple, they helped me improve my motivation and focus levels throughout my online learning experience. Going forward with my remote summer internship and the uncertainty of the upcoming fall semester, I feel better prepared with these tools to get the most out of future remote work in this less natural setting.

Photograph of Corley Doyle
Corley Doyle
Student Blogger

Corley Doyle is a current junior at Middlebury College.  She is pursuing a major in Psychology and minors in Mathematics and Spanish.

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