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Spring cleaning season is upon us! Yet with the current situation, you may be feeling anxious and disheartened and, in fact, cleaning may be the last thing you want to do. But spring cleaning is an important ritual you should try to maintain. Spring cleaning doesn’t just mean your parents forcing you to dust old picture frames and polish fancy silverware. You can spring clean your study habits, too! It’s important now more than ever to reevaluate your current habits and restructure them to fit your new schedule and routine. Here are four tips to help you spring clean your study habits:

Create a structured daily schedule.

Distance learning has now become the norm for many students. Now that you no longer have a bell to signal the time to shuffle from one classroom to the other, it is up to you to create a set routine. Set realistic times for waking up and for going to sleep which allow for you to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Block off time so that you can get ready for the day and eat breakfast. When creating your academic schedule, build in time to complete your homework, conduct research for your papers, and prepare for lessons and discussions throughout the week. Remember to include your teacher’s office hours into your schedule so that you know when to drop in to ask a question or follow-up with them. It’s especially important to stay in touch with your teachers, since you no longer see them in person on a daily basis. Once you’re done with the day, be sure to schedule time in for family, friends and personal self-care, including workouts and time to get outside. Don’t forget to make time to eat balanced meals, stretch and rest throughout the day. We suggest working for 45 minutes and taking 5 minute breaks!

Rearrange your living and learning space

In past years, spring cleaning may have entailed tidying up your bedroom or cleaning out your closet. These days, it’s crucial to create a neat and tidy space that will be most conducive to your learning. Perhaps that means that you rearrange your bedroom and place your bed further away from your desk so that you can focus without the temptation to nap. You could also clean out your desk so that there’s space for your computer, notebooks and a lamp so that you have ample space and light for when you are studying. You could even place flowers, motivational posters or a candle nearby to keep you zen while you participate in distance learning. The powerful influence that space has on one’s learning is supported by scientific research! If you’re sharing a space with someone else, get creative. Communicate with your family members so that you know when to knock on their doors. You can also create designated spaces for conference calls or phone calls. You could also build your own makeshift classroom using only your computer and a whiteboard! Channel your inner interior designer to revamp your space.

Use technology to stay connected to your peers and friends

As you’re setting a schedule that works for you and finding ways to tidy up your study habits, remember to incorporate your peers into your study schedule. We’re fortunate to live in an age in which we can video chat or call our friends and peers. Distance learning doesn’t mean that you can’t still be connected to your friends and classmates and learn in innovative ways. In fact, social media tools and resources have become incredibly handy in the transition to distance learning. Create Zoom study groups so that you and your friends can hold each other accountable. Set up an Instagram live with your classmates and invite them to a virtual study session. The opportunities here are endless and can contribute to more effective studying habits!

Incorporate and explore healthier habits

And finally, do not sacrifice time for rest and relaxation in creating your new routine. The tradition of spring cleaning is rooted in “refreshing rooms after a long stuffy winter” during the days when central heating was nonexistent. Spring cleaning holds the opportunity to turn over a new leaf. Spring cleaning in the midst of a pandemic provides the unique opportunity to pause and reevaluate how we are spending our time. This could be a great time to explore new restorative activities. In light of this season, you may explore new hobbies and choose to integrate new healthy habits like exercise or yoga. These new habits may have a direct impact on how you learn and approach your studies. In fact, the research on the relationship between healthy habits like physical exercise on student learning has shown that doing so “[increases] time on [academic] task and attention to task.” Spring cleaning your study habits could encompass a larger skill set; develop habits that would best support you physically, mentally, and emotionally during this time.

We are living through unique, unprecedented and uncertain times. However, we can approach our new lives and routines in a positive way and with the determination to improve ourselves and our habits. These suggestions are meant to encourage different ways to tidy up and spring clean our current habits. Use this time to explore and figure out what works for you.

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