Being productive on school grounds is not too difficult. As a learning institution, places to study are built-in whether it be quiet floors, libraries, or study rooms or spaces. On a broader scale, there are cafés, libraries, or even the personal retreat of your dorm room that you can pick and choose for your studying leisure. In contrast, however, home is where the heart and relaxation live. Being at home is often associated with taking a break from schoolwork and a place to sit back and take a breather. Unfortunately, in light of COVID-19, many of us are now working from home and likely new students of Zoom University. So, how do we stay productive at home? What’s the plan, Stan?
Well, there are a few ideas. Let’s break it down.
- Wake Up in the Morning, Not the Afternoon
With online school and flexible schedules, it is easy to fall into bad sleeping habits. As tempting as it is to go to bed and wake up late, try your best to avoid it. Waking up late, such as around noon or after, you lose so much of your day. I am not saying to wake up at six in the morning, absolutely not, but remember that flexible schedules can mean adjusting that schedule to your advantage. Wake up at a more digestible time such as nine or ten in the morning to ease yourself into your day. Those couple of extra hours not only allow you to take your time and take it easy, but they also give you a nice head start. If it helps, take a shower and get out of your pajamas to give yourself that “getting ready” feeling. Small things like a morning routine can help give your day the jumpstart it needs.
- Do Not Work in Bed
Separate your spaces. Of all the places in your home, your bed is the worst place to study. It is undeniably comfy, yes but that in itself is its fatal flaw. Your brain automatically associates your bed with comfort and sleep. As a result, working in bed is more likely to cause you to zone out and perhaps get you feeling a bit drowsy. Next thing you know, the 15-minute power nap you decide to take somehow ends up taking over the entire afternoon. It is that sweet temptation of the bed. For that reason, avoid your bed entirely and find another location. Ideally, a place where you can spread out all your books, notebooks, and other supplies to properly work. So, probably not the living room in front of the TV, but a desk if you have one or even the dining room table are good places to start.
- Make Lists
With online school, it is easy to lose track of what is due and when. Write, and I cannot stress this enough, it down! Telling yourself, “Oh, I’ll remember that” has a low success rate. Go through all the new syllabi, emails, and announcements your professors hit you with and write down all those important dates. Separate your to-do lists by week so it is easier to keep track of. If it helps, print out the new syllabi for easy access. Another tip is to separate your lists by priority as in what needs to get done now vs. what can get done later. That way, you know you are getting the most important things done first, instead of working in advance at the expense of missing deadlines. Write it down!
- Be Conscious
Be conscious of your patterns. Take note when you find yourself doing household chores to avoid doing work or if you are more productive in one room than another. Once you are aware of certain behaviors, you can take that knowledge to use to your advantage. Finding what does and does not work for you puts you a step closer to finding a productivity system that works for you.
- Check Yourself
…before you wreck yourself. Online school comes with a lot of flexibility, so remember to take breaks. Online education does not have the same limits as traditional schooling and there is no need to burn yourself out when you can easily avoid it. Pace yourself, take a breather, and do not be afraid to push things back another day if you can as long as you do not make it a habit. Take this unique opportunity to create a learning experience that serves you and your needs.
Take advantage of what you can and make the best out of what you got. You got this, so go and crush it.