How to Be Productive While Working and Studying Remote

We are experiencing challenging times and significant changes to our daily routines because of the COVID-19 pandemic. As we find creative ways to accomplish nearly every task from our homes, it may feel overwhelming to juggle so many changes. Here are five tips that may help you take control and feel more productive while working and studying remotely.

Schedule times for specific activities

How do you determine when work or school begins and ends once your home becomes a classroom, office, conference room, playground, and dozens of other places at once? The best way to manage this is to schedule times for specific activities and stay consistent.

Walsh student Whitney Rupp Kruger is no stranger to working a full-time job remotely while pursuing her Master of Business Administration, training for marathons, and parenting a three- year-old child. For her, time management is the key to balancing her life’s priorities.

“If 4 a.m. is homework time, make it consistently homework time. If 6 p.m. is family time, make it consistently family time,” said Kruger. “Find the time management system that works for you and stick to it!”

If you are caring for children, establishing a consistent schedule for them that coincides with the needs of your workflow is helpful. Try and schedule quiet activities like reading, independent school work, naps (should you be so lucky!) and quiet screen time when you know you need to focus or have an important call or meeting. Bickering siblings? If possible, have them engaged in different activities in separate spaces (or send them outside!) during your focus times.

Stay organized

With so many different things happening around us, staying organized can significantly improve your daily productivity. For Kruger and Christina Toma, a recent Bachelor of Business Administration graduate and current master’s degree student, the most effective way to stay organized is using a planner.

“I have always relied on my planner to help me stay on task, but organization is even more important during this challenging time,” said Toma. “I am much more productive when I follow my normal routine and focus on my planned tasks for the day.”

Minimize distractions

There are distractions all around us and it’s easy to let them disrupt your work flow. We’re all guilty of it. Eliminating distractions may be easier said than done when working or studying from home, but there are still a number of ways you can minimize them.

One of the most common distractions is something we use every day – our cell phones. Whether you prefer leaving your phone in a different room while you work or you prefer to keep it near your workspace with the notifications silenced, minimizing the desire to reach for your phone can help you stay focused.

Many people are working from home with children, spouses, roommates, parents, pets, or others around them at all times. Some may have a room with a door they can close to indicate that they are working, but not everyone has that ability. Talk with those at home to plan “do not disturb” times and determine indicators for when you are in focus mode. Wearing headphones or earbuds can be a great indicator!

Designate a space for work or school

Find a designated space that works for you – even if that space is your kitchen table. Once your work or homework is done for the day, pack away your materials and equipment and reclaim that space until it’s time to start again.

“When I was pursuing my degrees, it was important for me to designate a spot for school,” said Eljona Ndrecaj, a recent Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance graduate. “Now that I’m working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I made sure to set up a table in a quiet area with lots of light and minimal distractions so I can be as productive as possible.”

Take breaks regularly

While it is important to be productive during the times you schedule for working, it is just as important to give yourself breaks and focus on your mental health. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Spend some time outside in the fresh air
  • Play a game or read for pleasure to give your mind an escape
  • Exercise, practice yoga or meditate
  • Try learning something new like a foreign language, hobby, or skill
  • Call or video chat with friends, family, peers, or coworkers

Try to focus on the things you can control. H. Jackson Brown, Jr. once said, "Let perseverance be your engine and hope your fuel." These may be strange and uncertain times, but we can keep our engines fueled by helping others, staying focused, taking care of ourselves and our loved ones, and having hope for a brighter future.

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