How I stay motivated during isolation

Faculty: Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care
School: School of Medicine
Course: MBChB Medicine
Category: Medicine

24 March 2020

It’s so important that we’re all staying at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but that does not mean our productivity has to suffer.

Granted, getting motivated can be hard at the best of times, let alone when you have no need to get out of your pyjamas and warm, cosy bed.

But as a medical student at ARU, I still have to sit my exams and engage with my course despite face-to-face teaching being cancelled (similar to many students across the UK). COVID-19 has not put my life on pause and I still have plenty I need to do during this period. So, I’ve set out five tips for staying motivated during these unprecedented times.

1. Stick to your normal routine as much as possible

I don’t blame anyone for wanting a few extra hours in bed, but set yourself a time that you want to be out of bed for and stick to it. Get up, shower, have breakfast and create a sense of normality amongst the chaos.

2. Make a to-do list every day

Nothing beats the sense of accomplishment you get from checking off tasks on a to-do list once you complete them. Not only will it help you establish what you want to achieve for the day, it will also make you feel productive (even if you are still in your pyjamas). Break down your larger goals into small bite sized pieces and get going!

3. Maintain engagement with your course

Not having regular face-to-face contact with tutors can make it difficult to stay on track. However, technology is our best friend during isolation, and we can use it to stay up to date with what our tutors expect from us each week. I like to always keep the Canvas tab open on my laptop as well as ensuring I regularly check my emails for any updates.

(For the uninitiated Canvas is ARU's online learning management system.);

4. Set up an appropriate work space

This should be somewhere you can sit comfortably, not be disturbed and have enough space. I would also advise you to make this space a distinct area dedicated for work, eg not your bed. This is because the merging of purposes can make it hard for your brain to distinguish between tasks. Using your bed as an example – it can make it harder for you to sleep at night or easier to take a nap in the middle of writing an essay. I’m aware not everyone has an ideal work space in their home but try find a space that fits the bill as much as possible.

5. Move around

Despite being advised to not leave our homes, try to get in some bursts of movement throughout your day (ideally during regular breaks from study). Walk up and down your stairs a couple of times, do a few jumping jacks or just stretch out your arms. Regular movement is linked to improved mental well-being, concentration and heart health.

I hope this blog was useful! Remember to check regularly Government guidelines and adhere to them to prevent spread of COVID-19 and reduce the strain on our NHS.

Looking to the future

Although our University campuses are closed at the moment, we're still accepting and processing applications for courses starting in September 2020.

If you're concerned about the impact of coronavirus on your studies, exams or university application, check our information and guidance for prospective students. We're here to help.


The views expressed here are those of the individual and do not necessarily represent the views of Anglia Ruskin University. If you've got any concerns please contact us.