While many of you may be looking forward to working and studying from the couch while wearing pajamas, it’s important to create a productive work environment at home. This doesn’t mean binge watching shows on Netflix while you’re “reading” from a textbook. If you find yourself being asked to stay home and conduct your normal schoolwork unexpectedly, here are some tips for successfully working remotely.
- Set up your space – The first step is to look around your house and find a place to claim as your own. Some students have found a quiet space in the garage, basement, attic or laundry room. Your school work takes time. It takes discipline. It takes quiet. If you don’t have a desk at home, pull up a table. Be conscious of how you’re sitting or standing while working, you may be here for the long haul. After you’ve claimed your study space, make sure everyone in the family understands it is your spot. You can even put up a DO NOT DISTURB sign and enforce it!
- Eliminate distractions – Clear your space! While it may seem counterintuitive to take extra time to clean your room before settling down to study, a study by Princeton University found that people who keep their spaces clean are able to process information and focus better. And when you sit down to study, put your phone on silent and set ‘do not disturb’ messages on any online messaging services. This will help keep you from getting sidetracked.
- Manage your time – Creating a framework for time management helps students complete work in an efficient manner and balance school with other responsibilities. What’s due tomorrow and what’s due in a few days? Focus on the tasks directly in front of you rather than worrying over future due dates. Rather than thinking about every single thing you need to do, break down tasks into 15 or 30-minute segments and focus on accomplishing individual, smaller goals.
- Make a study plan – Establish a home study schedule of your regular in-class work, study time, and any homework you might typically do once you get home. Never skip your study time! Especially if you have important quizzes or tests to prepare for. Always sit down at your station at study time. Do this even if you don’t have pressing homework to complete. Keeping a regular schedule will help prevent procrastination. If you find yourself sitting at your desk and looking at your books, but not reading, remind yourself that you only have to study for a short amount of time. Set a timer. At the end of that time, close the book and give yourself a break.
- Take breaks – Without your peers around to sit down with for a break or lunch, you might be tempted to keep working straight through your assignments. Avoid this as much as possible! Put your work down, go get/make lunch, call a friend, eat mindfully, read a book, take a brisk walk around the block, do something not related to schoolwork for a moment. Don’t let your brain get tired! You can use the Pomodoro Technique of setting a timer for 25 mins of concentrated work blocks. Then take a quick 5 minute time out. Then repeat. Brains work best in sprints.
- Stay connected – No matter the facet of life, focused and successful people inspire those they are around. Find a study buddy whose work ethic you admire and set up an online review session with them. So you may not walk to lunch after class together or be able to stop by your teacher’s room, but you can utilize many different technologies, such as webcams, to stay connected.
- Stay mentally and physically healthy – Taking 10 minutes at the start or end of each day to refocus your brain and find calmness can drastically help reduce anxiety surrounding assignments and exams. Even if you have a mountain of schoolwork, step away from the computer at least once every two hours and take a short walk, talk to a friend, or enjoy a small snack. At the end of the day, you may start to feel cooped up. So put away your computers and cell phones and take time to relax by stretching or reading a book. And above all, get some sleep! A full night’s rest helps clear the mind and provides students with the focus they need to accomplish tasks efficiently.