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Consider the following tips and strategies as you navigate online and remote classes at UNC. Adapt these suggestions to best suit how you learn and work optimally.

Healthy mindset

Shifting to an online work model can be a tough time for all of us. Here’s a reminder to keep a growth mindset even when faced with new challenges.

Here are some resources for when mental blocks come up:

  • If you are worried about procrastination, see this handout and video
  • If you notice a line of thinking that’s getting in the way of your work, check out our handout on Self-Scripting!
  • Here’s a handy handout on staying motivated
  • You might be interested in changing habits at this time, and we’re here for you!


When our day-to-day, external structures are changed or removed, most of us benefit from implementing our own structured schedule. How will you create this for yourself?

How will you ensure each day has a predictable rhythm?

How will you use a calendar to keep you on track?

  • Mark when you need to be present for real-time online classes, for instructor-led review sessions, or for study groups with peers
  • Update your calendar if test dates and other due dates have been changed. You can use this assignment and test tracker, too!
  • This might also be a good time to look at the big picture with our Goal Tracker!

How will you create a study schedule?

  • Mark your calendar with “appointments” for independent studying, reading, and assignment completion for each class
  • Check out our Weekly Action Plan! It’s a chart you can use to get started

Study space

Earmarking a space dedicated for study will help you stay organized and productive. What will your study space look like?

What enhances your overall focus and productivity?

  • Explore if you work best with quiet or ambient noise
  • Try turning off your phone for set periods of time
  • Internet blocking sites can help you stay away from time-wasters online
  • Check out these resources on distractions overall and digital distractions in particular

How will you minimize distractions from family members or roommates?

  • Try a white noise machine or app to drown out voices
  • Use noise cancelling headphones
  • Create agreements with others about when and where you’ll study

How will you stay engaged and alert?

  • If you’re studying in a bedroom and you’re inclined to nap, avoid studying on your bed
  • Use the Pomodoro Technique to study in short segments and then take a short break. Repeat this process.
  • Watch this video on evidence-based study strategies to learn more!

How will you keep your materials organized?

  • Try separate folders for each class—both digital and hard-copy
  • Take a few minutes at the end of each day to sort through papers, files, emails, etc. Anything need to be tossed, deleted, refiled?

Setting goals

Starting each day and each week with clear and concrete goals will give your days purpose and structure.

Here are two handouts for setting priorities to get you started. One is focused on what you decide that you must do, should do, could do, and the other designates priority alphabetically with an A, B, C, and D scheduling model.

Any large papers or projects due at the end of the semester?

  • Break down projects into a series of discrete steps, and schedule these steps into your calendar. Try working backwards from the due date.

What do you want and need to accomplish for each class in the coming week?

  • List steps to make progress on these tasks, and earmark possible dates in your calendar to work on these tasks

What do you need and want to accomplish for each class today?

  • Guesstimate how much time might you need to allocate for each task, and draft a daily schedule

Would it be helpful to have an accountability partner to help you stay productive and on track?

  • If a parent, friend or sibling can play this role, think about what this might look like: texts, in-person reporting?

Practice regular communication

Communication will be critical to stay connected to all parts of your academic life while you’re away from campus.

  • Are you familiar with how each of your professors use Sakai? What new features in Sakai might your professor use with online instruction? Check out this resource on emailing professors!
  • If you’ve relied on getting information from your instructors while in class, what routines could you set up to use Sakai more regularly?
  • How will you communicate with professors if you have questions or need help? Here’s a sheet on best practices for talking with professors.
  • How will you communicate with classmates?
  • How and when will you keep in touch with friends?

Practice self care

Just like when you’re on campus, it will still be important to take good care of yourself so that you can be at your best.

  • If you have an exercise regimen, how might it need to be adapted? Check out our handout on Movement and Learning to help!
  • What will you do to manage stress and anxiety?
  • What will you do to ensure adequate sleep and good nutrition? Check out this video on the importance of sleep!

Click here for links to handouts and resources to assist you with online classes and studying.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 License.
You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Learning Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

If you enjoy using our handouts, we appreciate contributions of acknowledgement.

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