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.
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). If you find yourself with a ton of extra time on your hands, this extra time can be used to learn a new skill, clean your house, start a work out routine, or begin freelancing. But you’ll want to treat the day like a workday to help you get into the mindset of being productive.
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Have a designated workspace
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.
Get dressed every day
Feel free to cut yourself some slack on your first few days 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.
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.
Set 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.
Get some light
You may find yourself starting to 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!
Tune out the distractions
If you have other people in the house with you, consider a white noise machine or grabbing some silencing headphones to help drown them out. I live in a one-bedroom with my fiance. We have been both working remotely for the past few days due to the coronavirus. We both keep headphones in so our phone calls and virtual meetings do not distract one another while working in such a small space.
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 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.