Establish self-discipline in the home office
As a student, you work a lot from home, and this requires discipline. It’s important to make work and free time feel like two separate activities, even if they both take place in the home, and this requires a little bit of imagination. Here are five steps to a functional work-from-home day.
Pretend to go to work
Get ready in the morning the same way you would if you were attending a lecture or going to the library. Eat breakfast, put on clothes that you would typically wear in public and go for a walk or a bike ride as though you’re going to school. If you want to go the extra mile, wear shoes indoors and prepare a lunchbox.
Create a workplace
Get rid of all distractions when you’re going to study (yes, that includes your phone – turn it off and put it as far away as possible from your workstation) and put away everything related to your studies when it’s your free time (this includes programs and tabs on your computer). If possible, use different spaces in your home for studying and for free time, or make a creative rearrangement of your furniture to mark the beginning and end of the workday.
Create a schedule and tell people about it
Decide in advance when to study and when to have your free time. Create a to-do list. Let other people in the household know in advance when you’re busy and when you’re not. Otherwise, there is a risk that all of your time becomes potential study time and that you never feel completely free, regardless of if you’re studying or not.
Actively take breaks
Schedule breaks, both long and short, and set a timer. Neither the brain nor the body is able to handle several hours in a row of sitting in front of a computer and especially not with maintained concentration. During short breaks, you can do some simple exercises, dance to your favourite song or just focus your eyes on something farther away than the screen or the books in order to rest your eyes. For longer breaks, you could decide with a coursemate to go for a walk while talking with each other over the phone or have a Zoom coffee-break together, making it feel like a real break and not just internet-scrolling.
If you have a lesson taking place on Zoom in real time or on another online forum, join those sessions, even if they are recorded and you can watch them afterward. If you do not have any real-time teaching – schedule some time when you can study digitally with classmates so that you have a meeting to attend and social stimulation. Having the camera on and seeing each other is enough for positive peer pressure, but a step up is to share your sub-goals with each other and give each other pep talks during the breaks.