Making WFH work for you under quarantine

by May 25, 2020

If you’re one of the millions of students whose universities abruptly shut down midterm or transitioned to online-only work in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, the shock of in-person classes being cancelled and accommodations closed (with some even becoming COVID-19 isolation centres) is still fresh.

Making a hasty transition to remote working and/or studying from home is by no means an easy feat. Even though we’re more than two months into this worldwide health crisis, you’re likely still facing some struggles. You still need to get your assignments in on time, actively practise social distancing, and perhaps, most difficult of all, stay motivated enough to keep working and remember what you’re working for.

Set goals

If you’re living alone, it can feel extra daunting to wake up every day and remember you’re still in lockdown. The associated confusion and uncertainty can make you lose focus and hurt your motivation. To help get over this hurdle, make it a point to set daily goals.

  • Keep a calendar highlighting your assignment due dates and project deadlines.
  • Decide at the beginning of each week (or day, if it makes more sense for you) which assignments and projects are priorities — then give yourself a benchmark to meet so you can check your progress.
  • Break up intense study sessions into segments of time by course, giving yourself some breathing room in between.

The negative feelings associated with social distancing and isolation can make it hard to get motivated. That’s understandable. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t maintain the pace you’d like. When you set your goals and create a schedule, make certain to leave a little extra time in your week so you have flexibility if you miss a study session or experience writer’s block on a paper that’s coming due.

Have a viable workspace

While it might do for short stints, working in your living room on your laptop isn’t feasible for the long term. You’ll want to have a proper workspace so you can spread out and organise your studies. If your living quarters are cramped, it might be time for some intensive uncluttering. We’re all learning many things during the coronavirus pandemic, like, which possessions and supplies are truly necessary. Now is a great time to dispose of anything you’re not using or don’t really need.

Minimise digital distractions

When you’re sitting in a classroom, you’re not looking at your phone or surfing the internet. (Or you shouldn’t be; chances are, your professor would frown on you.) Now that you’ve moved your studies to your home, you should still avoid the bad habit.

Digital distractions cause a severe interruption in your thought process, which can negatively impact your studies. Did you know that every time you turn away from your work to check a notification or scroll through a feed, it takes your brain 23 minutes and 15 seconds to fully return to your original task?!

So silence your phone and turn off any web notifications during your allotted study and work times. You’ll get a lot more done in a shorter period of time. (If you find you’re still struggling to keep your hands off your phone, imagine your professor looking over your shoulder!)

Create or join online study sessions

Sometimes all it takes is a little contact with your fellow students to energise you. One way you can do this is to join an online study session. Having someone to depend on — or, sometimes even more effective, someone depending on you — can make it much more likely that you’ll actually get some studying done.

If you don’t know where to look or can’t find anyone hosting these, start one yourself. Invite some of your mates in your classes to join you and ask them to spread the word. If you don’t already have one, open a cloud computing account so you can store files virtually and make sure your study partners can access them from anywhere there’s internet. Holding regular brainstorming sessions to review material or bounce ideas off other students can help keep motivation up for everyone involved.

Stay in contact with family and friends

Quarantine is lonely, no doubt about that, and being a university student, you might be far away from most of your family and friends. If so, make sure to keep in touch with them, it’ll help cheer you up and maintain these important connections.

Even if your family lives just on the other side of town, but you can’t yet do your weekly get-togethers, this still can be depressing. As an alternative, try virtual dinners, board games, and happy hours. Lots of videoconferencing apps make it easy, and most are free.

Make time for relaxation

Staying cramped in your unit 24 hours a day is tough. Even though you’re under government restrictions while the pandemic continues, you can still go outside to exercise and get some fresh air, as long as you don’t violate social distancing rules. So go for a walk, a run, a bike ride, or a short drive. Getting a change of scenery and pace can do wonders for your mental health.

Maintain your finances

If the pandemic goes on for additional weeks or months, you might need access to funds. Be sure to check your bank balance and credit score in case you need fast access to money. If you have a solid credit standing, you’ll at least have some borrowing capacity if you need it.

Although nothing’s certain but uncertainty, at this point, we can all hope that global society is in the home stretch where quarantine is concerned. However, if the self-isolation period does stretch out into additional months, by taking these proactive steps, you can be better prepared for anything else that happens going forward. Stay motivated and productive, and the time will pass a lot faster. Then, before you know it, you’ll be back at university starting your next session. 

Featured image courtesy of Unsplash

Molly Barnes

Molly Barnes

Digital Nomad

Molly Barnes is a full-time digital nomad, exploring and working remotely in different cities in the US. She and her boyfriend Jacob created the website Digital Nomad Life to share their journey and help others to pursue a nomadic lifestyle.