By Hayden Goldberg, Sophomore at the University of Washington 

Like most students, I spent spring quarter participating in remote learning. Previously, I talked about the strategies I used going into quarter, and what my transition was like.

I found both quarters to be a positive experience, thanks to a number of small strategies for staying engaged and motivated. Unlike many students, I decided to go ahead and take summer courses knowing that they would also be remote. 

Now that remote learning is our new normal I thought I’d share a few additional thoughts as the new school year gets underway. To be successful in remote learning you need to be self-motivated; this is my biggest take-away. If you are not enjoying your class, then you need to find an alternative motivation; otherwise, you will come up with reasons to procrastinate and delay until deadlines for the class are imminent.

There are multiple things you can do to stay motivated or create the motivation you need. First, set some goals. On a macro level, it can come from a goal such as “I want this grade.” Day-to-day motivation can come from setting attainable goals about what you want to get done, and then rewarding yourself for completion.

I found the most effective strategy to staying motivated is identifying something you want to get out of the class, and then establishing that as your goal. For example, I took a calculus class over the summer that I had to have to fulfill a requirement. On a personal level, my goal was to prove to myself that I knew the content. I was less concerned with my grade and more focused on my own personal understanding. This was my motivation throughout the quarter. This helped me get the most out of the class, and my good grade followed.

Another challenge to maintaining healthy motivation has to do with space. Back when school was in person and I was on campus, I was physically separated from home. Home, which, if you are like me, was my relaxation space. School was for work and home was for relaxation. Many students struggled in the spring as they tried to treat their relaxation space as their school space by doing schoolwork in their bedroom, for example. To improve your motivation I suggest establishing a physical separation between your work space and your relaxation space at home, then you can work to associate each space with each task. This takes time, but once you do, upon entering each space will put you into the right mindset for the task at hand.

The final two tricks are small and seemingly minor, but doing them can have a big impact. First, take a socially-distanced walk with a mask on. In school, you might have had five or six, five-minute passing periods each day. On campus you might have a long walk between classes. This is equivalent to at least 25 to 30 minutes of walking built into your day. It is not until you start walking again that you realize how much your body misses it.

Breaks were another built-in benefit of passing periods. You got up from the classroom and had five minutes to decompress, socialize, or stop thinking about school work. Now it is super easy to stay seated at your computer in-between classes. Believe me, I have done it more times than I would like to admit.

Standing up, walking to the kitchen, your room, and then back to your school space is really important in resetting yourself before your next class. Doing this in conjunction with a daily walk can go a long way in preventing burnout and maintaining your focus and motivation.

And that is the ultimate purpose of all of these tricks and tips: they will help refresh you and keep you engaged. By using them, you can build a foundation and daily routine for success.

Hayden Goldberg is a sophomore at the University of Washington with ADHD, anxiety, and executive functioning challenges. He has worked to create a system to overcome these challenges and improve essential skills such as time management, breaking apart assignments, and goal setting. His book, Freshman 101: The Guidebook to Planning, Prioritization, and Time Management, available on Amazon, provides step by step guidance on how to implement, customize, and use this system for yourself. He is also available to serve as an academic coach for high school and college students who are looking to improve their planning, prioritization, and time management skills.

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