At the beginning of online learning adjusting to working and studying from home was quite difficult for me. As a third year Physics with Astronomy and Space Science student, I usually spend over 20 hours a week in labs, with the rest of my time spent in classes, or in the library working through assignments with friend. 

All of this changed weeks ago, when we were told that the remaining teaching for our semester would be done online.

For most of us in college, our motivation and drive to work hard and do well comes from knowing that every day when we come we will get to see our friends, chat by the UCD Lake, get a coffee together or attend society events.

Working from home is therefore very different for us, however, as we approach the gentle easing of restrictions, I have found what works for me, to help me stay productive during these difficult times. It is important to find what works for you, and to try and not compare your productivity to that of others at this time. 

Waking up

I think, however cringy as it sounds, it is important to listen to your body at this time. If you are waking up feeling tired, sleep for longer, allow yourself little lie-ins if you want! Get dressed, and find what works for you for helping yourself to wake up, I’ve been enjoying 10 minute yoga flows, and reading the news while eating breakfast.

Work Schedule

All of my classes now consist of pre recorded material, therefore it is really important for me to make my own rough schedule for each day, so that I am not just focusing on one or two modules. 

Try something new

It is crucial to schedule breaks during this period. These can often be forgotten, since we now don’t have the solid structure of 50 minute classes, with at least 10 minute breaks between each. During my breaks I am enjoying having time for things which I usually don’t find time for, such as cooking new recipes. I think that everyone I know is going to come out lockdown with a banana bread in one hand and a Dalgona coffee in the other!


To help keep my mind from wandering when studying and doing assignments, I’ve been finding it very helpful to use the app, Forest. It allows you to plant a virtual tree for a period of time, and during that time if you leave the app, ie to check a notification, the tree will die. For every minute you stay focused, you get a virtual coin, which you can then cash in for a real tree, which is planted in a real forest! So a win-win situation for your productivity and the planet!

Staying connected & the importance of laughter

In college we are bombarded with social interaction everyday. We share UCD with over 30,000 students, we study on a very bustling, energetic and fun campus. There is a stark juxtaposition between our old campus environment and our current situations, where the only people we see each day are those who we live with, and those who we dodge when exercising outside. Therefore, I am trying my best to facetime friends at least 4 times a week, we do quizzes in groups, or watch Tik Toks together & chat, we catch up with each other and check in. This has really helped me stay motivated, being with my friends and laughing and having fun as we usually would in UCD. It’s not exactly the same but does help!


For me, going for runs, and being outside is the only time when I get a break from thinking about all of the college work that I have to do, or about the virus, and how much loss and heartbreak it is causing. I’m enjoying listening to old podcasts before the virus, and to music which I associate with being with friends during the summer. Even if exercise isn’t really your thing. I really recommend getting out each day for some fresh air, or doing whatever you need to do to give yourself a break.

The pressure to be productive at this time is huge. Our social media feeds are filled with bloggers and famous people telling us that it is ok to not be productive at this time. The thing is, especially for those of us in our 3rd and 4th years, we do have to keep productive, to a certain extent. I need to do well in my upcoming assessments and exams, and it is important to acknowledge the emergency unfolding around us. Be kind to yourself, and make sure to communicate with teaching staff if things are affecting your ability to work, instead of assuming that they know. Check up on friends and stay safe.