The COVID-19 pandemic has forced universities around the country to close their campuses and make the transition to remote and online study. Students will often spend a portion of their day working from their room or accommodation anyway, so while this change may be less extreme than people with jobs being forced to work from home, studying away from the university campus presents its own challenges and opportunities.
In this article, TSL offers 5 tips for working from home and making the most of this unique situation.
Universities will be racing to ensure they can offer a comparable learning environment for their students in an online setting. The exact method of teaching will depend on the university and your course, but you may be offered online lectures, be asked to contribute to online discussions through platforms such as Canvas, and to access reading materials online now that libraries are no longer accessible.
Make sure you stay up to date with what your university is offering. The chances are your university may have already been offering some of these online options but, depending on your learning preferences, you may not have used them. Now is the time to take full advantage to ensure you continue to get your money’s worth from your university and to ensure you do not miss out on valuable learning experiences.
For most people (although not all), having a set routine is an important part of maintaining motivation and productivity. On campus, when students are attending lectures at set times, a routine is fairly easy to establish. However, working from home where you do not have anywhere you “need to be”, it is far easier to become distracted and to lose motivation.
Try to wake up at a similar time to what you would if you were still at university. Keep a distinct part of your flat or house free as your “workspace”. If possible, keep this workspace free from distractions and ideally isolated from the other members of your household. You should try to maintain similar working hours, but it is also important not to overwork yourself. On campus, you would be breaking up the day by walking from your house to lectures, the library, and other activities. Take these break times into account and do not feel you have to work a full 9 to 6 without breaks, if this is not your normal study routine.
Although government guidance is changing on a regular basis, people without symptoms are currently permitted to leave their homes.
Try to leave your home at some point during the day, even if only to go for a walk in the park or to buy groceries. Staying in the same place for the entire day is proven to be damaging for your mental health and so take advantage of being allowed to go outside while you still can.
However, make sure you are following the latest government guidance on this. If you or any of your family have symptoms, you should not be leaving the house and you should in any event be avoiding pubs, clubs, and other social venues.
Although the government has advised against all non-essential social contact, there are many ways you can keep in touch with friends and family without being in the same place. Video apps like Zoom can allow you to host group video calls and are great for staying in contact in both a work and social setting.
Many people learn best when they are actively discussing the subject matter, whereas others prefer to learn alone. If you fall into the former camp, set up online study groups with your friends so you do not lose out on the opportunities you would usually have to discuss that week’s lectures with others.
It is also important to keep talking to people away from work. Try hosting a remote dinner party or use the Netflix Party app to recreate the atmosphere of your student house.
That guitar that’s sat in your room for the last five years that you haven’t had time to learn how to play, that novel that you’ve never got round to starting. You will probably never have more time to yourself than you will over the next few months so make the most of it and learn a new skill!
This will not only help to keep you occupied and improve your mental health but will give you something positive to look back on after this difficult period has passed.
But above all, TSL advises everyone to stay safe, stay positive, and to make sure you follow the latest governmental advice on remote working and social distancing.