Balancing online education and home office

Let’s set the scene: you were absolutely thrilled to have been accepted to your dream university, and you realized that, on top of that, you had some extra time to start working, making some experience and some extra cash. You were going to classes in the morning and to work in the afternoon. So far, so good. Then, the world went almost completely upside-down, online education became a permanent thing, as did home office, so your room became the office, as well as the classroom, the gym, the cinema, and every other place imaginable.

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Now, you spend every hour of every day in front of a screen, trying to get things done but, more often than not, just feeling tired, unmotivated, and overall, just drained. How is it possible that you spend all this time in front of the computer but you seem to always have a million things left to do? Why nothing seems to get done unless a pressing deadline is staring directly at you? How can you manage your time better? In this article, we will explore some tips towards achieving effective time management in these challenging times.

Why is it so hard to manage your time?

Discipline is a muscle. As such, it must be trained and nurtured to be sustained over time. Before the pandemic, we had strict timetables, commutes to take, streets to walk, a schedule to follow. We were used to being given a set of instructions for our education or work. The teachers or the managers were there all the time to guide the process. The setting was also there: the classroom, the office, even the street. Every place was related to an activity (that is why you never felt like partying at church or praying at the bar).

 

But now, the setting is the same for everything: four walls and your computer to do the same things that took you here and there before, so it is only up to your own willpower to be able to focus and get things done. Your brain does not recognize the setting, so you need to convince it to do what needs to be done without the spatial reinforcement. And it is really hard. So here there are some tips that hopefully will make your life a little bit easier:

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1. Set up your workstation

 

This is a bit of textbook advice. Find a place in your flat where you are comfortable, but not too much (so not the bed or the couch), and where distractions are minimized. That does not mean going to a corner and stare at the blank wall behind your computer the whole day. A window, some fresh air, and natural light can do wonders not only for your mood but also for your productivity.

 

If possible, invest in a nice chair and a lamp, or any other stationery you might need, and keep them in hand. Also, if you have enough space, you can create two stations: one for studying at your desk, and after the classes are done, you can go to “the office” in the living room. The idea is to train your brain into relating the space with the activity, so it is important not to use it for other purposes. So, do not sit in your workstation for hours scrolling through social media or watching movies.

 

2. Schedule your work, study, and break times (and follow up!)

 

Just because you are chained to your chair, it does not mean you are being productive. If you had a lazy Monday and did not achieve that much, staring miserably into your screen the entire Tuesday will likely not make things better. You need to organize your time (at least in theory) and try to follow it as much as possible. So, if you know that the class starts at 8.15, do not leave at 8.14 to start making your coffee. Get up on time to get ready, have some breakfast, get your notebooks and everything else you need in place. Think about it as a classroom, own the idea, so your brain follows through more easily.

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Author:

Natalia Pitta Osses

Article Writer &  Content Contributor

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The opinions expressed in this article/publication are those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of GiLE or its members.

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