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Routine, Structure, Motivation, and Where to Find Them

by Alicia Dorsett

We are living in stressful, anxiety inducing times and as students, a lot is being asked of us. Suddenly everything changed and we have been expected to adapt and keep moving like this is nothing (or at least, something to be looked back on down the road).

The truth, however, is that our lives have been upended.

Moving off of campus in all but 3.5 days, shifting classes to online learning, losing a job or having to work even longer hours. You name it, it’s probably changed in one way or another. Graduation is “postponed” (meaning that there’s currently no solution, although graduates are supposed to be featured in a video celebration), athletes don’t get to finish their seasons (which was the last opportunity for some), the list goes on.

In the midst of all of this chaos, we still have work to do (no matter how depressing it is).

Bringing yourself to complete the growing pile of classwork, or even go to class, is likely harder now than it has ever been before.

There is a reason the classes we took weren’t offered online; they weren’t created to work that way.

Let’s be honest, most of our professors made a change or two (if we were lucky) but not much has changed. The workload is still heavy, and expectations are just as high (and that extra week of spring break didn’t do a thing to prepare us; if anything, it made this harder).

Something I think we’re all struggling with right now is normalcy, or a lack thereof. Our routines, our structure, even the motivation we had to do anything is gone at a time when we need it most.

Here are some of my personal tips and tricks to putting your life back together (at least a little bit):

1) Make your bed.

This might not seem like a big deal, and some people do this without being told, but it helps. Seriously, make your bed. It’s a small step that shouldn’t take more than a few minutes every morning (or more realistically every afternoon) and you feel productive after doing it.

2) Clean your room.

I know, this one might not make sense but just try. If you’re like me, your room has become your safe haven, and you only leave when necessary. Deep cleaning your space and making it a place you want to spend time in can seriously improve your mood. The best part, you do it one time and you’re done. Daily touch-ups to keep it cozy is another small but productive task.


I am the biggest culprit of this, but its important. Sit at a desk or table if you have one available when trying to work. If you have to work in bed, try to sit up, and not in any orientation similar to how you sleep (you may be less susceptible to those 3+ hour naps).

4) Keep up with everyday tasks.

This might seem dumb but think about the tasks you do every day. General hygiene, walking and/or feeding the critters, breakfast, exercise, etc. Try to do these more consistently, and even come up with an order to how/when you do them. Basic routine is still a routine.

5) Go to class.

Somehow going to class got harder. I know, watching/listening to your professor fiddle around with Zoom or Collaborate for the first 10 minutes of every class is at the bottom of your list. However, going to class right now is a surefire way to get back into the swing of things. Also, don’t be afraid to keep in touch with them; you have every right to let them know what’s going on with you. (How could they not give you an extension in the midst of a global pandemic?)

I could probably go on, but this should get you started. This is such a scary and unprecedented time so it’s okay to go easy on yourself.

Stay safe, stay healthy, and most importantly, remember to be nice yourself and that it’s okay to feel overwhelmed. Call or video-chat your friends, watch some TikToks, or catch up on TV, and do your best (because that’s all that anyone can expect of you right now).

For more tips and tricks about keeping structure in your quarantine life, check out “Coping with COVID-19: How Students Can Get Help in Finding Structure and Motivation During the Global Pandemic.”

For more help:

Counseling Center: 724-836-9870 | Open Monday thru Friday 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.

1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. Coping with COVID-19: How Students Can Get Help in Finding Structure and Motivation During the Global Pandemic – The Insider

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