6 Tips on How to Stay Productive During the Quarantine

First, I want to say that this circumstance is unfortunate. Although none of us could have predicted this, I am hopeful that a solution to COVID-19 is soon approaching. If you are anything like me, these have been stressful times. Whether you were unexpectedly uprooted from your residence hall, forced to move back home, lost your job, or were unsure how your academics would transfer with online classes, I can relate. I want to emphasize: you are NOT alone. As unfortunate as this situation is, there are ways to grasp a sense of “normal” during these abnormal times. Below are 6 tips I have to help you get through this unique time.


Although many classes have transitioned to online platform–and that includes voice-annotated PowerPoints–I encourage you to review the slides during your normal scheduled time for class. This will help create structure and routine in your schedule, which will aid in greater productivity.


It can be challenging to stay on top of our academics when there is not a professor directly supervising our actions. For this reason, reach out to a close friend who you want to work with and keep each other accountable so that you both are staying on track academically.


Although we cannot go into office hours in person, instructors should still be holding virtual office hours. I encourage you to take advantage of this resource. It can be challenging to fully grasp a concept taught online and not every class can transfer as smoothly to the virtual platform, so reaching out to professors and taking advantage of virtual office hours will help you stay on course.


Exercise is a great way at relieving stress, which would do us all well during these stressful and uncertain times. Even though the gyms are closed, that does not have to get in the way of our physical and mental well-being. The weather is getting nicer, so take advantage! Get outside and enjoy the fresh air. I also recommend finding some fitness videos that you can follow along in the comfort of your home.


The days can go by slow during the quarantine. Although we have classes, there still seems to be lots of free time. To keep your brain stimulated and avoid too much time on social media, try picking up a new hobby. Whether that means teaching yourself a new language, learning a new skill, or reading a book you did not have time to in the past, just make sure it is something exciting for you!


Since we all should be practicing social distancing, that limits what we can do for fun. Think about scheduling Zoom meetings with your friends where y’all can talk about your days and catch up. Talking to other people will help us all not feel so alone in this situation.

We all must do what we can to stay busy during these times. Stay healthy and safe and reach out to additional campus resources if need be.


Everything you ought to know about Office Hours

What are office hours?

Office hours are special times that professors or teaching assistants (TAs) set aside just for helping students or talking about things related to a class. These are usually among the first things highlighted as the professor goes over the syllabus on the first day. Basically, what tends to happen during office hours is that a few students gather in a predesignated area and go around asking the professor or TA any questions they have about the course. The professor will elaborate on topics covered in lecture, go over homework questions (or random, hypothetical ones), and share any tips they have about understanding the material.

They may also share stories, life advice, suggestions for college, and tips for how to do well on quizzes, tests, and exams. This last part is especially worthwhile.  It’s also worth noting that office hours are like an open houseyou don’t have to show up at the start or stay for the whole time. Even if you can only hop in for 15 minutes and get your question answered, it’s worth it.

What should I ask?

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You can ask about anything relevant to the course material that will help you get a deeper understanding. For TAs, you can also ask the same things you would to a professor; they can certainly be less intimidating and may give you a different perspective.  Here are some examples of what you can ask:

  1. Re-explain a part of lecture
  2. Rework a homework problem
  3. Where to learn more about the topic – even how to get into research with it
  4. What to focus on for midterms/finals
  5. Ways to get extra practice
  6. Things to memorize
  7. How to format projects or what to include

What if I don’t know what I don’t know?

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In a class, there are three levels of being: submerged, head just above the water (most common), and chillin’ in the life raft. You’ll probably experience all of these things at some point in a class. When you’re just lost in a general sense of confusion, office hours are definitely the move. You don’t even have to talk; just sit there taking notes and listening to everyone else’s questions. That’s what I did for the majority of the office hours sessions I attended.  If the prof asks you directly if you have any questions, just be honest and say you’re trying to get less confused or that you’re just listening along for the extra explanations.

Will it be awkward with other people there?

“Come to office hours, I’m just sitting there alone at my desk waiting for students to come in”

You’ve heard this before, I have no doubt. And I’m sure that whoever said it was telling the truth, but I personally have no idea when the stars would align for this to happen. Ohio State is a big school, so even for small classes, a solid number of people will show up to office hours. The other people in office hours may seem intimidating at first, but you’ll quickly realize that you’re among allies in your confusion–you’re all faking it ’till you make it, but office hours pull the mask away a bit. Plus, if you do show up with no idea what you don’t know, you can rely on them to ask the questions for you.

On the flip side, if you’d prefer to meet with your prof or TA one-on-one, many of them have office hours “by appointment”. These tend to be underutilized, so they’re great for focused help and getting to know the professor better. You can also just send them an email saying that you’d like to meet, the vast majority would be happy to schedule at time with you.

How do I get the most out of office hours?

  1. Don’t be hesitant or embarrassed to ask questions, remember that other people will be wondering the same thing.
  2. Come prepared with specific homework questions that confused you.
  3. Have an idea of specific topics that you’re confused about. It helps to mark these points in your actual lecture notes so you know where the confusion began.
  4. Ask any questions that come to your mind during office hours.
  5. Try and stand out to your professor as someone who works hard to understand the material, even if it doesn’t come to them immediately. Your professors are valuable connections and possible rec letter writers.
  6. Make note of what your professor emphasized, this is likely to reappear on a test.
  7. Take notes. Treat it like a mini lecture but with more participation.

Remember that you get out of a class what you put into it. Making the extra effort to attend office hours pays off 🙂