Things may feel uneasy right now. Amid the uncertainties presented by COVID-19, many things have changed with concerns about how we attend classes, work from home, and socialize with friends. Engaging in a healthy, productive, and balanced remote learning environment may be completely new to you. It can be difficult to navigate the unknowns, disruptions, and uncertainties you may be experiencing.
Here are some tips, tools and practical advice on how to design a workspace and adjust your learning habits for remote learning.
Designing Your Space
You may already have a designated workspace or desk in your home, but being forced to work in the same space can be difficult and your space must offer all you need to stay emotionally, physically and mentally healthy.
Research has shown that nature has a direct effect on a person’s wellbeing. If possible, make sure your space has access to sunlight. If you aren’t able to set up space with a window or a view, houseplants can be a great way to incorporate nature in your space. There are many plants that are resilient even without much sunlight, with the bonus of filtering the air. Some options: bamboo, snake plant, English ivy, ferns, or peace lilies if you enjoy fresh flowers!
Keep supplies within arms reach
An easy distraction when working from home is realizing you don’t have everything you need for the task ahead. Make sure your space has everything you will need: highlighters, pens, notebooks, paper, post-it notes, and space to spread out for projects that may require more room (we see you, art and design majors!)
Remember: workspaces aren’t permanent, they can change depending on what you need, just make sure the tools you need for the task are within arms reach.
Sitting for long periods in front of a screen can cause pain in your back, legs, shoulders, and neck. One way to keep your body healthy is to schedule stretch breaks between classes and assignments or use a standing desk. Ergonomic keyboards, wrist cushions, footrests, and chairs that offer support are also great. But if you don’t have those things, just make sure to take breaks regularly to stretch and move!
Pick the right soundtrack
Do you work better when it’s quiet or when ambient sound is around you? If you prefer silence, try headphones to keep outside noise at bay. If you prefer music, check out radio.garden and pick your favorite radio station from around the world! Or if you just need background noise, consider a white noise app.
Staying Organized with Your Classes
Keep track of each class
Sticking to your instructors’ schedule will help you keep a sense of normalcy. Setting a schedule will help provide structure and keep you motivated. A calendar or daily schedule can help you keep track of important assignments, deadlines, and personal self-care.
Avoid multitasking, try monotasking
Between family, social media, and classwork it’s easy to fall into a multitasking mentality. However, multitasking usually leads to taking longer to complete assignments, being more likely to make mistakes, and remembering less. Instead, try to focus on one thing at a time and take breaks between tasks as a reward. The Pomodoro time management method is a great way to stay on task with important assignments. Learn more about the magic of monotasking.
Be creative, adapt to what works for you
Do you typically study in the library or coffee shop? Try to recreate that space at home. Or do you find more success when working with a study group? Try scheduling a regular virtual meeting with your classmates to go over materials before assignments are due. You can use screen share to review study guides together or even create a shared google drive where you all share information during your meetings.
Making Time For Self-Care
You may be experiencing anxiety and restlessness. That’s normal. It’s important to schedule self-care throughout the day.
Set a timer
It’s very easy to get sucked into a project and lose track of time. An easy way to ensure you schedule self-care is to use a timer either on your phone or as a browser extension. Here are a few of our favorites: Break Timer & Stretch Reminder. Remember to hydrate, eat meals away from your screen, and stretch!
Throw a virtual party with friends
It can feel isolating right now. Stay in touch with family and friends either via phone or video. There are plenty of platforms (Google Hangouts, Zoom, Skype to name a few) that allow you to recreate those aperitivo evenings with your friends and family. Or you could throw a Netflix party!
If you’re able to, try and get some fresh air. That may mean stepping out in the backyard, patio, balcony or just opening the window. If you have a small yard or balcony, spring is here – maybe it’s time to start that herb garden you keep talking about!
Technology is our main avenue of communication these days. Sometimes you simply need to step away from the screen. This is a great time to journal about your feelings and thoughts or catch up on your reading list. If you have an old record player, maybe it’s time to dust off those vinyl records and throw a dance party in your room. Other ideas: play an instrument, do a puzzle, draw, or start up a new crafting hobby!