8/15/2020

Preparing for school in the new normal


I saw an Instagram post Thursday that said August 13 marked five months since March 13 — the day it felt like the country shut down. That Friday, I flew from Birmingham to Chicago with a large suitcase full of clothes for about two weeks and a heart full of optimism that I would return in less than a month. Fast forward five months later, and I’ve returned to Tuscaloosa under a new normal and with a little anxiety about what this semester will bring.

 

While it does feel good to be back on campus and surrounded by my friends, I feel a bit overwhelmed in terms of starting a new school year. Between hybrid classes, a unique fall schedule, navigating more campus buildings to be in larger classrooms and a series of other changes to my day-to-day routine, I’ve tried to use this week before classes start to prepare for this new normal. 

 

Set up for the new normal

My room looks different this year, and it’s not just because I’m in a new location. I’ve made adjustments to my room in an effort to make life a little easier for this new set up.  

 

I picked up this Container Store acrylic monitor riser for my desk to put my laptop on during Zoom meetings. This extra height gives me more desktop space to take notes or have other items out while I am in online class or meetings. When I’m not on Zoom, I can use this as extra surface space to put items like sticky notes. 

 

Another change is my mask hangers. I added some additional Command hooks to the wall next to my door to hold my keys, masks and anything else I may need while hustling out the door. I also got a Careful Key to add to my key ring to avoid touching surfaces like elevator buttons and door handles. Giving my masks a designated spot like my shoes or keys helps me to keep track of them and remember to grab one on my way out the door.

 

Make sure your room is ready to go on the first day

Sometimes syllabus week feels like a breeze, other times it feels like there are just not enough hours in the day! I am pretty good about putting things away after I use them, but sometimes in the rush of things my room can get a bit messy. I have made an effort this week to stay on top of laundry, not let my trash overflow and put things away that I procrastinated moving in. Having a fully operational room that I can easily locate things in will be really helpful in the chaos of the first few weeks and helps me feel like I am starting the new school year on the right foot!

 

Organizing your calendar and inbox

I don’t know about you, but my schedule seems a bit more haphazard now that some classes and meetings are in person while others are not. I have used a physical planner for years, but with Zoom links and codes, I’ve been leaning more heavily on Google Calendar for my daily schedule and using a physical planner for a to do list. I can still make my Google Calendar color coded which is super helpful, and it’s much easier to change things last minute when they aren’t written in pen.

 

I’ve also worked to color code my calendar colors with labels in my inbox. Between teachers emailing, organization-related emails and everything in between, labeling my emails as they come in has really helped me locate emails later.

 

Keep your backpack stocked

In previous semesters, I almost always kept an extra snack in my backpack in case I missed lunch or got a little hungry during the day. I will certainly continue to do that, and this semester I will be adding a face mask and hand sanitizer specially for my backpack. Having this on hand will be helpful and part of the new normal. 

 

What are you doing to prepare for this new school year?

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