How to: Get Your (Virtual) Life Together

By Camille G. Caldera

We’re still mentally in the banana bread-making-phase of quarantine, but that hasn’t stopped classes from being scheduled to start… tomorrow. With everything online, there’s suddenly a ton to manage — Zoom links lost in the depths of our inboxes, Google Forms on Canvas that may or may not work, and TFs who are, understandably, overwhelmed as everyone rushes to get their shit together. Use the tips and resources below to have your online semester figured out in no time.

Add ‘Zoom Utils’ to Google Chrome

So much Zoom, so little time. There are links for classes, sections, labs, meetings, and, of course, those awkward online catch-ups with acquaintances because nothing, not even COVID-19, could stop you from suggesting to “grab a (virtual) meal sometime!” Enter Zoom Utils, a Google Chrome extension developed in the last few months by Alec N. Kennison ’22 and Jonathan D. Samuel, a student at Texas A&M. The extension allows you to add all Zoom links to one place (read: one place!) and can send you notifications and auto-join when you “accidentally” take a nap before your 3 p.m. lecture. Say goodbye to frantic Canvas searches five minutes after class has already started.

Embrace Collaboration — Even If It Feels Gross

It’s hard enough to respond to a text from eight days ago, let alone ~get your p-set on~ via Zoom. However, online classes will be a lot less pain and a lot more gain if you reach out to friends, past classmates, etc. to figure out who you can work with throughout the semester. Better yet, use your first couple of weeks to survey the Zoom field and send a quick direct message in the Chat to anyone of interest. Don’t worry about the fact that you haven’t talked to them since Opening Days. We won’t speak for everyone, but we’re pretty certain that no one cares at this point. (For a more formalized approach, Slack or online tools such as ClassFinds can facilitate the study buddy hunt.)

Revisit Your Best Friend, GCal

No explanation necessary.

Pay Attention

We don’t just mean in class. Pay attention to what lifts you up this semester. Are you holding onto an extracurricular that you’ve grown out of? Is there something you’ve been putting off that you’ve been meaning to try? What communities at Harvard do you feel best serve your needs, interests, and values? Hopefully, considering these questions will make managing virtual learning a little easier. Of all semesters, don’t feel like you have to do everything.

If you’re struggling to get your virtual life together, we hear you, and we’re here for you. Test things out, keep what works, and maintain an open mind — we can do this!

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