More and more teachers are working from home. Whether you have left for a new remote position, building up your side hustle, or have been asked to begin remote working, working from home can be a challenging adjustment.
It sounds SO AMAZING, but it was a huge shift for me after I left teaching. Because remote working can come with its own unique challenges, I wanted to share my best tips for teachers working from home.
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Working from home is a whole new skill set for teachers. Why is it important to learn these skills? Because your mental health may start to suffer if you don’t feel like you accomplished things during the day. Especially after a week, or months. Being cooped up in the house working remotely for years, I’ve learned that it’s imperative to treat weekdays like workdays (even if there isn’t a lot of actual “work” to be done).
Teachers will want to treat the day working from home like a workday to help you get into the mindset of being productive. Here are five tips (plus a special bonus) that will help keep you on track.
1. Teachers need a designated workspace when working from home
If you usually plop on the couch with your computer and browse online stores, the couch isn’t going to be your most productive environment. You’ll want to sit up straight at your dining table or, preferably, a desk. In your workspace, you should try to limit your distractions by keeping your phone in another room.
I set a timer on my phone for specific increments of time to take breaks. That allows me to go and check my phone (so I don’t feel anxious that I’ve missed anything huge) and walk around to stretch my legs.
If you have been working from home for a while you may want to start sneaking more physical activity into your day. I just recently purchased this exercise bike with a desk and I LOVE IT.
2. Get dressed every day when you’re working from home
Feel free to cut yourself some slack on your first few days as a teacher working from home and live in pajamas. But after that, it’s important that you set an expectation for yourself to get dressed.
I know that this can feel silly, but it’s much better for your mental health to continue your day as you would if you were leaving the house. Weekends can be pajama days, but on the weekdays continue the routine of getting dressed for a workday.
3. Schedule your day
Every morning (or afternoon) you’ll create a work schedule for yourself. Block off specific time frames and make sure to start with the tasks you want to do THE LEAST. You always want to start off with the worst task because in the morning you are the most productive. If you put it off until the end of the day, you may continue to procrastinate and never get this task done.
I use a simple planner to help me schedule my days, and usually add some fun tasks at the end of the day (something creative or a phone call with a customer I’m looking forward to). Writing everything down helps to keep you accountable.
4. Set up a productivity ritual
Create a productivity ritual that combines taste and smell with getting to work. Make cucumber-infused water or have a specific tea or candle that you light during GET IT DONE time, and stick to it every day.
You’ll find that this little treat will become a pleasant daily ritual. Bundling a routine with something that triggers your senses can be an impactful way to boost productivity for teachers working from home.
5. Get some light
Teachers working from home might feel depressed by being stuck indoors all day. This is perfectly normal, and happens to everyone! First step, open up your windows.
I live in a dark apartment that doesn’t have amazing natural light, so opening the windows wasn’t enough for me. One of my favorite purchases to help me work remotely was a HappyLight. These therapy lights can make a huge difference by signaling the body’s natural energy enhancers and reducing sluggishness and lethargy. Just turning mine on behind my computer keeps me alert and focused for hours!
6. Tune out the distractions
Some teachers working from home might be surprised to discover that there are more distractions there than in your classroom. If live with family or roommates, pets, or near noisy neighbors, consider a white noise machine or grabbing some silencing headphones to help drown them out.
I live in a one-bedroom with my fiancé. We have been both working remotely for nearly a year due to the coronavirus. We both keep headphones in so our virtual meetings do not distract one another. It makes a big difference!
7. Expect to fail
The first few days are going to be a challenge to adjust to. Expect to fail. You might accidentally find yourself on Facebook for 5 hours. You may find yourself thinking, “I honestly have no idea where the last two days went!!” This is normal. But start reflecting every day on what you can do to improve your productivity for the following day.
You’ll find that in no time you’ll be building up your stamina to limit your distractions and make the best out of your new home office space.
Bonus: Use your extra time working from home
Teachers working from home might find themselves with a ton of extra time. The days feel so long! There is suddenly no commute time, less getting-ready time, and no time spent socializing around the copy machine. All of those minutes add up! Use this extra time to your advantage.
This is a great time to start working toward your goals. Would you like to learn a new skill? Maybe you’ve been putting off starting a work out routine? Additionally you can take time to supplement your income by freelancing or dedicating some time to starting a small business.
Finally, if you’re a teacher working from home with a goal to transition out to a career other than teaching, it’s a great time to take those first steps. That might mean growing your side business into a full time gig or building your transition resume.
Some teachers are excited about getting back into the classroom while others find themselves happier working from home. If heading back into the classroom feels daunting or is no longer an option, there are many career opportunities out there!
Next Steps to a New Career
One of the biggest mistakes that I see teachers make is that they try to navigate this process alone. Often, they put off “researching” until the very last minute. Which sets them up for a very stressful application season. I want to help you get some clarity in the options available to you. To know EXACTLY what you need to do (and not do) in order to get your foot in the door.
You don’t have to do this on your own.
With the help of an HR expert with over 10 years of experience and a team of former teachers, I’ve created a guide to support you in the early stages of your transition out of the classroom. Tap the button below to learn more.