A Toolbox For Studying Online

How does working from home make you feel? Perhaps you thought it would be over by now. Maybe you were trying to form some kind of schedule but thought you wouldn’t be spending the entire year studying virtually.

For those of us at UCT, we’ve recently received the news that the second semester will be completed virtually. This is not really a surprise, given that we’re in the peak of the pandemic and that RSA has secured a top 5 spot for Covid cases. How can we move forward with this, given how overwhelming it truly is?

Today I’d like to share some of my life lessons and what has been working for me through this turbulent period. I’ll talk a little about scheduling and time management, how to make stress your friend, being supportive to others, understanding mental health, keeping your goals in check and remaining mindful.

Since I’ve spoken in depth about most of these topics before, I’ll provide links to the full posts under each heading.

Time Management

In order to successfully manage our time, we need to keep 3 things in check:

  • Structure
  • Consistency
  • Balance

This is forming a skeleton of your ideal day. Think of it as the foundation of your empire. How do we form structure? By setting out goals and objectives, each and every day.

When you’re consistent with the structure you’ve formed, it opens up time for you to do more. You gain confidence from consistency because you know what to expect from yourself.

Your structure should include time for you to rest, recover and reload. Make sure that you’re getting the right amount of sleep every night. Make sure that you’re putting in exercise at least 2-3 times a week. Make sure that you’re spending some time in nature too. Important here is to also monitor your social media usage and the amount of time you spend online.

Time management

I’ve been requested to talk a little about time management, so let’s give it a go. I’d like to first try and define time, or at least come to an understanding of what it is. Then we can dive into how to maneuver through the time we have. I aim to make you feel more … Continue reading Time management

Make Stress Your Friend #2

Flight or Fight!? How often do you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or relentlessly chasing deadlines as if your life depended on it? Let’s talk about why stress has low-key been the reason we’re achieving our goals and why we need to form a healthier relationship with it. I’ve talked about this before in the first … Continue reading Make Stress Your Friend #2

Make stress your friend

Far too often we get trapped in our own little cycle of thoughts. Some are true, some are exaggerated, some are just unnecessary and some are completely wrong.

“Stress is your body’s reaction to any change that requires a response.”

Keep in mind that stress is a beneficial part of your nature, it’s meant to help you adapt and react swiftly to changes in your environment. Manage stress by focusing on your breath and finding cues to the present moment.

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Support structures and mental health

This is especially important now that we’re unable to physically meet each other on a regular basis. It’s really helpful to try and form a support structure with your peers, even if it’s just on group chat. Knowing that there are others who are going through a similar experience will make you feel a lot better.

This adds to the issue of taking care of your mental health. Your mental health is something that you need to take care of regularly. You can’t wait for things to go south and feel overwhelmed before you put in any effort.

Regularly taking care of your mental health can be as simple as journalling, meditating, praying, going for a walk or speaking to a friend. When it gets a little more hectic, speaking to a therapist or seeking professional help may be a better option.

Many universities offer virtual therapy sessions to their students for free. Be sure to utilize those resources if you need to.

Mental health

How are you currently feeling about your mental health? We all struggle or have struggled with our mental health at some point. We probably also know someone who currently struggles with their mental health. The reason I’m writing about mental health is for awareness. We often don’t realize how delicate our states of mind are. … Continue reading Mental health

Mindful Monday #1

Have you stopped to admire the sky today? Did you take a moment to notice how the colours on the leaves are changing? Why do we always find a way to escape the present moment? I’m starting a little series called ‘Mindful Monday‘. I’ve been part of a similar course before, so I just thought … Continue reading Mindful Monday #1

Mindfulness

This has been a recurring topic in my blog since I started. I’ve done a presentation on mindfulness a few weeks ago on 20 Life Learners that I’d like to share here.

It’s essentially about finding cues to stay in the present moment. Using grounding techniques such as focusing on your breath, you can control your physiology to condition your mind. There’s quite a bit of neuroscience behind it, you can read more in my Mindful Monday posts.

Goals

I’m not sure about you, but this year has forced me to reevaluate many of my goals. This is not necessarily a bad thing at all, it means that we need to be realistic and adapt.

Goal-setting is a powerful tool to help you move forward in life and to reach peaks you never could’ve imagined climbing. Find a place to write down some of your objectives for the rest of the year and review them constantly. It will make a difference in how motivated you feel.

Don’t give up when things don’t go according to plan. Find ways to improvise and keep looking at the bigger picture. You’re worthy. You’re capable. You will achieve greatness.

Time management

I’ve been requested to talk a little about time management, so let’s give it a go. I’d like to first try and define time, or at least come to an understanding of what it is. Then we can dive into how to maneuver through the time we have. I aim to make you feel more comfortable with all the time we have.

The advice that I share here is not something that I expect you to follow or do. My intention is for you to absorb the wisdom behind it, and apply it in your own way. We each have our own idea of what is considered valuable and our own set of responsibilities.

We find value in different activities and behaviours, therefore there can’t be a guide on what to spend your time doing. We can try and find healthy habits, which enable us to find more time in our rigorously busy schedules. Again, we each have our own idea of healthy, so let me elaborate on what I mean by that.

Healthy to me is something that enables you to find fulfillment, contentment and contributes to longevity and endurance. Let’s try and form some healthy habits, which can enable us to spend more time on what we consider to be valuable.

What is time?

Such an arbitrary concept. Something we’ve made up to allow us to fully utilize the changing of the seasons and to form some structure. Like an opinion, time is perceived differently by everyone.

The young (who often have less to do) feel it passing by slowly, anticipating boredom. The old (who often have much more to do) feel it slipping between their fingers, hardly able to hold onto a few minutes.

Tomorrow is a fiction of our imagination. Yesterday will never return. Today is all there is. Keeping that in mind, let’s utilize the present moment with structure, consistency and some balance.

Structure -Necessary as a base.

This is forming a skeleton of your ideal day. Think of it as the foundation of your empire. How do we form structure? By setting out goals and objectives, each and every day. To do lists work exceptionally well here. Before you start the day, set out specific tasks that you’d like to accomplish.

This cannot be random. You need to look at your schedule, and fill in the gaps with whatever you need to get done. I cannot emphasize how important it is for you to have a solid morning routine. If you haven’t already, check out my post on The 5 AM Club.

Writing down objectives of the day is relatively simple. Following through and respecting it is a completely different ball game. To actually notice a difference, you need to be committed to your craft.

You need to love yourself enough to keep your promises. So don’t treat the list like it’s insignificant.

Follow through. Work hard. Don’t end the day without ticking everything off. Find the satisfaction in pursuing the targets. [Reasonably of course]

Here are a few examples of what I put on my list everyday:

  • Morning Routine (Pray, meditate, journal, 10-20 min exercise)
  • Read (30 min a day)
  • Blog (I’m ticking this off rn!)
  • Attend lectures and complete tutorials for the day
  • Gym (or some other form of exercise)
  • Cook (or just prepare lunch)

You don’t want your day to be overloaded, but you don’t want it to be bare either. Find slots in your day to fit in important activities and don’t allow procrastination to push you off track. Watching series aimlessly or scrolling on your phone for hours will definitely suck up valuable time.

Leave your comfort zone. Be ambitious. Dream wildly.

Structure curates a space for spontaneity and creativity. It only becomes mundane or boring when you allow it to be. Continue to explore in your free time and find something to learn.

Consistency– Necessary in order to keep the structure in tact.

This is something else I love speaking about. Consistency! Little by little, a little becomes a lot. To be successful in any aspect of your life, there are certain actions which you just have to repeat.

Want to be fit? Exercise consistently. Want to be smarter? Read and learn consistently. Want to form healthier relationships? Show your love and care consistently.

So in order to manage your time better, the key most definitely lies in consistency. When you’re consistent with the structure you’ve formed, it opens up time for you to do more. You gain confidence from consistency because you know what to expect from yourself (to a certain degree). That confidence enables you to move forward and make progress towards your goals.

So with structure and consistency, we need to find balance. To ensure we’re living a wholesome life, where we’re constantly contributing, and being leaders to those around us.

Balance – Resting is necessary.

Having such a rigorous schedule definitely sounds exhausting, that’s why we should always account for some rest time.

Your structure should include time for you to rest, recover and reload. Make sure that you’re getting the right amount of sleep every night. Make sure that you’re putting in exercise at least 2-3 times a week. Make sure that you’re spending some time in nature too.

I can’t emphasize how important it is to spend time around nature and to just let your mind wander. Being bored can be very healthy. You need to give yourself time to allow thoughts and ideas to manifest and come to fruition.

Find a balance academically, spiritually, mentally and physically. My post on equilibrium explains it in much more detail.

Islamic perspective

Salah (Prayer). One of the most fascinating aspects of Islam to me, is that we have 5 obligatory prayers each day. This kind of puts what I’m speaking about into the spotlight; structure, consistency and balance. The structure and consistency of these prayers, enables us to revive our spiritual relationship with God each and everyday.

Knowing very well when it’s time to pray, allows us to work around it. Making it easier to slot things into an organized schedule.

I know everyone follows a different belief system, but it’s still critical to form some type of spiritual practice.

I want to change the self-fulfilling prophecy that people say: “I don’t have enough time”. It’s just not a good enough excuse for your strive towards mediocrity.

We all have the same amount of time, some people learn to use it more effectively than others. It mostly depends on what you choose to prioritize.

Utilize your time more effectively by building some structure. Form a schedule that works best for you and respect it. Being consistent is the best way to show yourself some love, and to build confidence in your ability to follow things through. Lastly, find balance within the structure. Your mind, body and soul all need to be taken care off.