Studying & Working from Home
Working and studying from home is a new challenge facing many of us due to the restrictions put in place to help stop the spread of coronavirus. Some people love it and some people hate it! In our last blog post, we covered what to do if you are in a situation at home that makes remote learning very difficult – things like limited access to wifi or computers, crowded or noisy houses, pre-exisiting learning difficulties or working on the front line. With all of these difficulties, it’s important to let your lecturers, teachers or employers know what exactly you’re dealing with.
However, there are lots of small things you can do to make your learning or working easier, whether you’re a secondary school or college student, or someone who has had to start carrying out their normal office job at home!

1. Keep a Routine
Working and studying from home can easily feel optional when it’s not – it’s something you have to do! To help get in the right mindset, try to keep waking up and going to bed at your normal times, eating at your normal meal times as best you can and making sure to set a finish time for your day of work or study. It can be good to align this with your normal timetable, although if your normal timetable has big gaps you might decide not to take those and finish earlier instead. This will ensure you’re not neglecting any one area of your work and study and focusing too much on a different one.

2. Designate a Work SpaceA desk with various items of stationary on it
This is very dependant on your living conditions, but try to find a space where you can do your work every day. Ideally, it would be a quiet space with a desk and good internet connection away from where you sleep or relax, but obviously for most of us that isn’t possible. Try to find somewhere comfortable, ideally with the least distractions possible. Try to have a separate area where you can relax, and especially sleep, so your brain knows when you enter your work space it’s time to work – even your bedroom floor would be better than your bed itself!

3. Prepare for the Day
There’s a lot of debate about what you should wear to work or study from home – some say getting dressed up can put you in the mood for working, while others say comfier clothes provide less distractions. Try to find what works for you, or a compromise of wearing clothes that are comfortable but you’d still be happy to wear out and about on a normal day. Keep the rest of your morning routine as usual, and make sure before you start your day you have everything you need in your work space, to avoid hopping up and down to get pens, paper, etc.

4. Keep a List of Tasks
Use your phone or a journal to keep track of what you need to do and when it needs to be done by – it’s so much easier to forget things when someone isn’t physically reminding you. Check your email and online platforms like Moodle, Blackboard, Edmodo or whatever else you’re using each morning and evening and add them to your list. Keep in contact with your classmates and co-workers – they can keep you on track and offer support when there’s a lot less supports available to you than in normal circumstances. Tick off each task as you do it, and if it’s a online document make sure you save it and back it up to prove you submitted it.

two coffee cups5. Set Aside Breaks
It has been proven that the brain can only concentrate at maximum capacity for twenty minute time spans, and then needs a break. Set yourself tasks in short time spans like this, giving yourself short breaks to check your phone or get a snack, then keep working. When tasks are complete, give yourself a longer break. Try to follow your normal routine in terms of breaks – do you normally go to a society event at 2 on a Tuesday? See if they are running an online meet up, or if not do something else relaxing and enjoyable at this time to give yourself a break. Checking your phone or even things like having your pets around can be really distracting, so give yourself designated breaks to focus on this.

6. Use Online Resources
Unfortunately, many students feel that the online resources provided by schools and colleges are not equivalent to the education we would be receiving face to face. The best way to get around this is to use the material available online beyond what is being sent out. Things like Khan Academy videos or online resources from your college library can be huge helps. For secondary school students, Studyclix and provide extensive notes and videos on different subjects. Help each other too! Social media makes it easier than ever to stay in touch and a Zoom or Microsoft Teams meeting can be set up by a group of friends to discuss problems as easily as by a lecturer.

7. Stay Exam Focused
Remember, if you are a student, you are working with an end goal in mind, now more than ever. If you’re in college, continuous assessment elements may be worth more than usual, so its important to do these well and consistently. Hopefully, you are already aware of the new format of your final exam, or will be made aware soon. Chances are the exam format will be different, so sample exam papers from previous years may not be helpful. Make sure you study for the exam you will be receiving – learning off essays won’t be as helpful if your exam is now in MCQ format, as you’ll need to be learning grittier details for an MCQ. For secondary school students, pace your study but stay focussed – try to create a revision plan to last between now and late July that won’t burn you out. Remember at this stage you have done most of the work and it’s now just a case of keeping on top of it!

A page full of notesStudying and working from home is far from easy for many of us, but its something we have to get used to. Remember everyone is in the same boat and don’t put too much pressure on yourself! Try to keep balancing your work or study with your other hobbies and interests, and maybe even pursue an interest you had been neglecting when you had less time at home! This won’t last forever and soon we’ll be back with our classmates and work colleagues again.
If you have any other tips put them in the comments below!