Master’s Organisation.

As of Monday, I’ve been back to student life – albeit a little different to the majority of my undergraduate degree. An online Master’s wasn’t exactly how I planned to spend my year, I also wasn’t expecting to have my course pushed back to January 2021, from September 2020. (The uni was hoping life would be a little more normal. That didn’t exactly work out!) But hey, here we are. In lockdown my mental health has been at its best when I have a routine, particularly when I was working 9-5, so I decided my Master’s would need a decent routine too. I probably spent a lot longer than I should’ve working out how I should structure my life around lectures, but here it is: my Master’s organisation for semester 1.

Master's organisation tips for online learning

I have two work related ideologies that on the surface, definitely are conflicting: work smarter not harder, and if it’s flowing, don’t stop. Work smarter, not harder really hit home in lockdown 1; I was trying to write my dissertation, and without fail on Wednesdays I hit a brick wall, nothing happened as I sat at the desk for hours on end. After a couple of weeks I decided that Wednesdays were no longer working days, neither were weekends (they’d never been anyway), because it made no sense to waste a day staring at four walls. Instead I did whatever I wanted, bike ride to the docks, Netflix in bed, baking – anything I felt like really. The impact it had on my productivity was amazing, working in two day blocks meant I always knew when I could next take a breather, and because I’d scheduled it I didn’t feel guilty about it. I’m not planning to completely take off Wednesdays in my Master’s organisation schedule, but I will only be working until lunchtime, and that work will not be typical lecture work but on my thesis proposal.

Then comes the ‘if it’s flowing, don’t stop’: while I want to have set hours, if it comes to 5pm and I am really into whatever I’m doing I’m not just going to stop because my plan ‘says so’. If I go an hour or two over on one day, then I’ll reward myself by shortening another day – let’s be fair, most probably Friday, everyone loves an early finish for the weekend. As long as my Forest app shows enough study time over a week, (I’m aiming for 20hrs, not including lectures), or my to do list is empty, then there’s nothing wrong with getting off early. I won’t allow myself to start later though, because I’m trying really hard with my sleep schedule at the moment and am aiming for a weekday get up of 8:30am, so I don’t end up working late into the night in return.

Another area I am factoring time in for is exercise. As much as I dislike running, getting it over with before my lectures and individual work begin helps my focus for the day. Usually I like to run Monday, Wednesday and Friday, leaving the weekend free, but I don’t mind switching it up if necessary. I find it better to continue my exercise on run days, so once I get back I’ll grab a drink and head straight into a Shreddy workout. On top of those three days of exercise, I want to go on a walk with a friend at least once a week, if not for the exercise but for the human interaction. These are very ad hoc plans that usually occur the night before so I just fit them in wherever, which is easy due to my flexible learning hours.

Now I’ve outlined my Master’s organisation ‘philosophies’ I can get into my weekly plan!

8:30-9am wakeup/breakfast/get dressed
9-10:30am couch to 5k/shreddy workout/shower
10:30-11am weekly life planning/coffee break
11-2pm lecture work
2-2:30pm lunch
2-5pm lecture work

8:30-9am wakeup/breakfast/get dressed
9-12pm lecture work
12-1:30pm online lecture
1:30-2pm lunch
2-5pm lecture work

8:30-9am wakeup/breakfast/get dressed
9-1pm proposal work
1-2:30pm couch to 5k/shreddy workout/shower

8:30-9am wakeup/breakfast/get dressed
9-1:30pm lecture work
1:30-2pm lunch
2-4pm online lecture
4-5pm lecture work

8:30-10am wakeup/breakfast/get dressed
10-12pm online lecture
12-1:30pm couch to 5k/shreddy workout/shower
1:30-2pm lunch
2-5pm lecture work

Obviously in my ‘weekly life planning’ on Monday I will break the ‘lecture work’ sections as otherwise it can look overwhelming – think lots of module specific to do lists, and if things need changing to suit my workload that week, that’s what I’ll do. Nothing in my Master’s organisation is ground breaking, but there are subtle differences to lockdown 1, largely making sure I get up and dressed everyday and pack my things up in the evening to signify the end of the day. When assignment season comes around, I of course expect things to change, weekends perhaps to come into play, but for now this seems manageable. What do you think?

Beth x

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