How to Work from Home (…even when it’s really hard!)
Working from home is difficult. Throw in a parent in the kitchen taking conference calls, younger siblings running around, and frankly a world in turmoil and it may just seem impossible! Nevertheless, for most of us exams are on their way, so I thought I’d share a few tips to help you make the most of working from home.
1. Set your hours
Work-life balance is tough as it is, move your work to home and suddenly it becomes a whole lot easier for the scale to tip disproportionately in either direction. Whether you’d rather work from 10pm to 3am or 6am to 2pm, set your hours and commit to them. You need to know how many hours you want to work each day, when you want to start and when you want to end working for the day. By confining the hours you work into a timeframe you can avoid them inflating to the point all your days seem to become a miserable blend of procrastination and work! Giving yourself a rigid end to the day is really important especially when working at home – not only does it give you something to look forward to, but gives you a distinction between when home is work and when home is home!
2. Set boundaries
Whether your cat has a hobby of sitting on your laptop or your mum has an endless list of chores for you at home, it’s important to stay focused even with your family around. A simple fix is communication. Let your family know when your work hours are. Likewise, listen to what they have going on – if there’s anything that’s not so flexible try and adapt and compromise so when you are working your time and space is respected.
3. Dedicate space
Bringing your work to home can be pretty invasive if you’re not careful, so establish an area to contain your work, just as you established a time. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just somewhere you can associate with work and only work. When it comes to the end of your workday, put your notes and your laptop away, just as you’d pack up after a day at the library!
4. Hold yourself accountable
Without the judging eyes of everyone else in the library and with your bed mere seconds away, it can be very easy for lecture notes to be replaced by Netflix… Respect your working hours, keep track of your goals and achievements and save Netflix until after the end of your day!
In breaks interjected throughout your day, try to be aware of turning to distractions that are designed to keep you for longer than a 5- or 15-minute break – whether that’s a suspense filled series or social media. Instead, have a chat with a family member, see how your pet’s doing, have a healthy snack or spend 5 minutes in the garden – that way you can go back to work refreshed and on time!
5. Stay in touch
Just because you’re working from home, doesn’t mean you’re alone. Your lecturers are just an email away and your course mates on the other side of the phone – so it you’re struggling with something don’t be afraid to ask. Reach out and keep in touch with the friends you might usually go to the library with and see how they’re doing – maybe even keep each other accountable by revising over video chat some days.
6. Don’t let things get too mundane!
With quarantine in full swing and potentially just at the beginning, the days ahead may be starting to look a little bit monotonous. Make sure outside of your work hours, you’re getting stuck into a hobby, creative project or watching a movie with your family. Or maybe you’re volunteering or online tutoring. Give yourself things to look forward to – the same way your weeks may be interjected with brunches and nights out, schedule evenings on Houseparty or maybe a Boohoo order when you reach a certain goal! In the coming weeks, we’re going to be spending more time at home than ever so make sure your free time is spent in a worthwhile and enjoyable way.
Whilst exams certainly come with their own set of worries, I hope the little bit of normality (even if that’s just “normal” stress!) is helping serve, if not quite as a comfort, as a little bit of productive distraction. Although work can be a way to escape, some days you’re not going to feel like working – and that’s okay. Your health comes first, and it’s okay to be sad or anxious or even angry, especially in times of adversity. Stay safe, stay home and good luck with all your revision!