3 tips for working well from home

When doing courses online, here's how I'm hoping to manage the distractions and pitfalls of working at home.

Person on bed with laptop Photo: Pxhere.com

The biggest issue with working and studying remotely is that our homes now have to function as an office, classroom, and study space. You may find yourself trying to video call with your classmates while your roommate is blasting the TV in the background or a family member has taken over the kitchen counter with their office so there’s nowhere to eat or study. With this upcoming semester being online, we thought some we’d offer some tips on how to navigate these issues and set yourself up for success this fall.


Find an effective workspace

This is a challenge for most of us. It’s important to have designations between workspaces and our living spaces, as it helps create a productive headspace around where you work.

You can find a space in your bedroom that has a surface you work on, or try to find an underutilized space or corner where you're living which could be turned into workable space. If you don’t have access to a traditional table and chair, consider investing in a folding lap desk that can turn a bed or couch into a more usable space.

If you’re sharing your workspace with others, make sure that it’s kept organized and clean so anyone can sit down and effectively use the space. If you can personalize your space, take this time now over the summer to make a place you're excited to work at every day as it will help you be productive while taking classes and studying from home. If you're unable to find a space that’s quiet, try plugging in a pair of headphones or earbuds as a way to tune out the world around you and focus on your work.


Communicate boundaries

You’ve found a good spot to study, you open your textbook, ready to get started, and you get sidetracked by a roommate or family member. How can you limit interruptions by others while you try to participate in your classes, do assignments, and study? Well, communication is key! It’s important to convey expectations and boundaries around your workspace, especially if it's a commonly shared space.

Take the time to sit down with the people you're living with to discuss what your schedules are going to look like. Everyone will benefit from open lines of communications, as they might want their own time for working as well. If possible, discuss setting designated quiet times for studying or working throughout the week. This way there’s a set time that everyone is expected to respect and it will provide you time for your own work. Write down these expectations in a place where everyone can easily access them. Then, if there’s any conflict, there’s a clearly written outline of expectations.


Set yourself a schedule

Setting up a schedule is always important when you're a student, and even more crucial this fall with everything being online. Sit down and create a daily schedule based on when your classes are offered and when you work best. This structure will help you develop a routine that keeps you on track with your classes.

If you're not sure what your schedule will be like, check on Brightspace when your classes will be offered which will depend if they’re synchronous versus asynchronous. If you have asynchronous classes to watch on your own time, consider what times would work best for you and set times up for when you’ll watch your classes each week.

Put your daily schedule in your phone which will give you alerts to remind you throughout the day. Don’t forget to schedule regular breaks! Though on your breaks try to avoid activities that can derail your schedule like scrolling through social media and instead go for a short walk to change up your scenery.

Share your class schedule with who you’re living with as it will help them know when you’re in video calls, meetings, and synchronous classes. If there’s limited space to set up a study space and you’re sharing with others, then clearly communicate when you’d like access to a certain space by working around each other’s schedules. Maybe this means someone will have the space during the day and you’ll use it in the evening.

It’s important to remember that studying and working from home will look different for everyone, and that it may take you some time to figure out a schedule that works best for you.