College students thrive on a schedule. Knowing what a day beholds allows for them to feel a sense of structure, stability and security according to Cathy Guttentag, PhD, an associate professor of pediatrics at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth and clinical child psychologist with UT Physicians. However, the closure of colleges and universities to help stop the spread of COVID-19 disrupts these established schedules and students are forced to find a new normal within the confines of their homes.
To cope with the lack of routine coupled with fear of this unknown illness, I created a schedule of my own to help me find structure in this new learning and living situation.
8 am: I wake up at 8 am and get ready for the day. I take a shower, wash my face, get dressed and make my bed. For me, I wake up relatively early and get dressed not only to maintain a sense of normal but to help my emotional state. If I sit around in sweats or pajamas all day, I less motivated to take on the day. However, by making this one active decision, I feel ready to complete my tasks and do my best work. This might not be the same for everyone, and that is okay, but it works for me.
9 am: After I wake up, I make sure to eat a healthy breakfast. I have been on a smoothie kick lately and you can find my favorite blend here. (I like to add pineapple to mine.) After that, if it is Monday, Wednesday, or Friday (MWF), I sift through my emails and prepare for my English class that begins at 10am. If it is Tuesday or Thursday (TuThu), I do some remote work for the Ethics Center until my news writing class at 11 am.
10 am: Classes begin, and I begin working through my to-do list. I am a strong advocate for making checklists. For me, I break all my tasks into the smallest components possible and take them all one by one. This makes a longer list, but it allows for me to see exactly what needs to be done, and I think we can all agree that seeing a paper full of checkmarks creates a feeling of accomplishment. I set up my computer and headphones and get to work. I have my notebook in front of me along with my textbook. My personal workspace (formerly known as my dresser) includes my planner where I write down all of my assignments for the week, all my pens, highlighters, my sticky notes and a drink to sip on during class.
12 pm: A 12 pm on MWF consists of me doing work for my other English class. I try to complete my class work during the times I would actually have them on campus to maintain that sense of normalcy. Whatever doesn’t get completed during this hour is set aside as “homework” for later. I typically eat a relatively late lunch because of how my classes fall. On MWF I eat lunch after this class, but because my classes TuThu go from 11am-2pm all in a row, I try to snack during class sessions on these days.
3 pm: From 3 pm to around 3:30 pm I take a break from working and rest my eyes from looking at a computer screen all day. This break might consist of me checking in on my sister who is completing her own online school work, walking my dog around the neighborhood, or grabbing a snack.
5 pm: Around 5 pm, I log off my computer for a while and take a break until dinner. I spend this time hanging out with my family and getting some fresh air outside. Outside I like to play volleyball with my sister, sit on the porch and talk to my mom, or play with Rimmee in the back yard.
7 pm: After my family eats dinner, we like to take Rimmee on another walk and then we all come in and begin preparing for the next day. I start planning out my to-do list, showering, and finishing up some last-minute assignments.
9 pm: My parents are typically in bed and asleep by 9 pm, but my college sleep schedule still hasn’t changed. I stay up later to enjoy some alone time. I might be in read in bed or FaceTime some of my friends from school. Recently, my boyfriend who is also a student at SMU and I have discovered a Google Chrome extension called Netflix Party that allows us to chat while watching the same show at the same time. Even though we are about 45 miles away, we still enjoy some leisure time together. We are about to finish up Tiger King, and all I have to say is that show is nothing but a thrill ride.
11 pm: At 11, I pull my covers back, wash my face, and brush my teeth. I have also began baking to cope with social distancing so might be pulling brownies out of the oven. Each night I rest and reflect on the day and how I am living in a time history will record forever. I am so grateful for this opportunity to write about my thoughts, experiences, feelings, and opinions about this wild time.