Carnegie Mellon University

Student Academic Success Center

Office of the Vice Provost for Education

Planning your day

In a remote learning environment, many of the cues you may have relied on to focus (being in the classroom, for example) or take a break (walking across the Cut for lunch) are gone. The simplest routines - packing your bag for the day, walking from your residence hall to your first class, opening a notebook - provided unconscious structure throughout your day, and you will need to create a new structure for your days.

Your class schedule may provide structure for a portion of your day, but much of your time - whether you’re living on campus or elsewhere - is yours to plan. Make the most of it with these strategies:

  1. Pause for self-reflection. This remote learning environment provides an opportunity for you to work when your mind works best. Are you a morning person? A night owl? Do you do your best work when you have a large break in the middle of the day?
  2. Try to keep the same schedule every day. Even though the things you do each day may look different, try to wake up, eat, work or study, take breaks, and go to sleep at the same time each day. You’ll be recreating some of those unconscious routines and find that you’re making better use of your time each day.
  3. Work smart. Your brain isn’t designed to work efficiently doing the same type of tasks for long stretches at a time. Complex thought and problem solving require focus that can’t be sustained for much longer than an hour, so it’s helpful if you can break up your analytical work with more administrative or rote tasks.

Does all of this sound overwhelming? Request an initial consultation for academic coaching with a SASC staff member, and get paired with a peer academic coach who can help you develop the structures, organizational systems, and workflows that allow you to do your best work.