With another semester of remote study looming for university students, I thought today would be the ideal opportunity to share some of my all-time favourite working from home tips.
Although on the whole I do enjoy organising myself and studying from home, there’s no denying that it can sometimes feel overwhelming. Nonetheless, juggling my uni life and work as a freelancer from the comfort of my own desk has taught me a thing or two in the past year.
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Here are my top 8 hacks for your happiest and most productive semester of remote study yet:
- Create a Workspace. It doesn’t have to be a home office by any means, but if possible in the space you have, try to create a little sanctuary designated for work. Which leads me swiftly on to my next point…
- DO. NOT. WORK. ON. YOUR. BED. I know, sometimes it’s so tempting and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t cave in every now and then (I’m only human). But where possible, keep your bed for rest. A lot of these guides you see say “don’t work in the bedroom” however for a lot of students, this really is the only option. When I was living at uni, my entire living space was one room – I’m sure a lot of you can relate. Honestly, working in the bedroom doesn’t matter, just keep your workspace and bed separate where you can!
- Sit up Straight and Stretch. One thing I struggle with since I’ve been sitting at a desk so much is neck and upper back pain. Keep an eye on how you’re sitting, pull your back straight and your neck up. I honestly couldn’t count the amount of times I look in my mirror to notice I’m crumpled up into the weirdest position. Try some neck and back stretches in the mornings or evenings – they feel amazing and will really help with those distracting aches and pains.
- Give your eyes a Rest. Speaking of aches and pains, it’s important to give your eyes a rest. I read something a while ago that suggested looking at something at least 30ft away out of the window every 20 minutes, for 20 seconds. I’ve been doing this ever since and it really does help with eye strain!
- Keep a Routine. The number one best thing about online learning is that you can plan to work in a way that fits with your most productive hours. For me, this involves getting up reasonably early (usually between 6am and 7.30am), having a chilled morning, starting work at 8.30am or 9am. I’ll then work until 4/5pm, with a few half hour breaks and a lunch break of course! I’m definitely a 9-5 sort of gal, and I always make sure to do my most pressing/difficult tasks in the morning, as my productivity tends to take a dive-bomb after around 2pm.
- Plan out your day. As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, I’m a massive fan of time blocking and planning out my days in the morning. Of course, I use my Passion Planner for this (ELISET10 for 10% of btw, or you can use this link), but you can do this however works for you! Some people prefer to use a digital calendar. I like to get things down with pen and paper, personally – I’m a bit of a traditionalist in that sense.
- Dedicate yourself to Focus Time. One of the perils of remote study has got to be the abundance of distractions. Teaching yourself to shut them out is probably the most important thing you can do for your productivity. You might be surprised what you can achieve in an hour of distraction free study time! I use the Forest app to track my work time, and it really has been a lifesaver for me (I’ve been using the app for a few years now and have always loved it).
- Try not to let work pile up, but if it does – don’t get mad at yourself for it. This is a trap I fell into for years. Being annoyed at yourself won’t help. It won’t help you to take care of yourself, and it also won’t help you to fix it. If you find yourself behind, make a big to-do list and commit to one or two things each day. Don’t even look at the whole list, tackle it bit by bit and you will get there. And even if you don’t, you’ll get further than you would have by stressing out.
Above all else, be kind to yourself – a few key points to remember on this front:
- The day is not ‘ruined’ because you slept in or procrastinated until 5pm – we all do it sometimes. It’s normal. Just brush it off, commit to smashing an hour of work if you can, have a nice bath and then start again tomorrow. Beating yourself up about being unproductive is more unproductive than being unproductive.
- Self-care is key. This will all be a lot harder to do if you’re not putting yourself first. You come first, work comes second – always.
- Switch off. When your work time for the day is over, switch off from it. Stop checking your emails, log out of your uni account. There is nothing that can’t wait until the morning. If you don’t completely detach yourself, you’ll feel like you never leave work.
- Don’t overcommit yourself. When I first started trying to balance my freelance work with uni, I was definitely guilty of this. It’s all about finding the right balance. Don’t overwhelm yourself with additional work – it won’t help anyone and you’re not superhuman (yep, Capricorns, even us).
- Remember that your best is all you can do. Not every day is perfect. Not every day goes to plan. Your schedule is great, but it’s also just a guide – flexibility is important because life happens. Get up, do your best, take care of yourself, go to sleep, get up and do your best again. It’s all you can ask of yourself.
What are your favourite remote study/working from home tips?