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Working remotely is here to stay, and by the look of it, education is following right in the same steps. The flexibility in schedules, guaranteed environment satisfaction and the ability to take control of the learning process are some of the factors that will drive these trends post COVID-19. Even with these advantages however, several challenges encumber young professionals when they have to work and study remotely. Let’s see how best to handle them.
Account for every minute
Now you have some freedom in your schedule. A big percentage of remote workers say that the main advantage of working at home is the extra free time they get. Make good use of it.
Instead of the daily morning commute, you can slot in a workout session or walk the dog before getting down to your business. Just watch out for temptations to sleep in or lose focus of your work and study goals. We recommend reworking your old schedules to ensure that every free minute is planned for.
Take on a hobby, learn a new skill
Working at home has its freedoms, but it can be a different story for eager beavers. These are ‘workaholics’ that can get extremely focused on a vision, deliverables and goals. If that describes you, you might get tempted to work or study too late into the night. You might forego lunch for the excuse that you are so engaged, or kill all chances of a social life. Strike the right balance in your schedule.
Have time for ‘play,’ to talk to friends, pursue a hobby or order a nice meal. Too much work destroys productivity, and too much studying affects your retention rate as well.
Stay healthy and active
Remote work for most people means staying at home every day of the week. And now that you are doing your schooling at home too, it can be very hard to unplug and stay healthy. One way around this problem is to adopt a workout routine that takes you out of the house. It could be a daily morning run or a hiking trip on the weekend. As they say…Just do it.
Get digitally social
One of the biggest challenges around this time of the pandemic is isolation and anxiety. Working and studying at home means that you see less of your friends and are more to yourself. Loneliness has always been a problem for remote workers.
Your freelance neighbor knows that too well. Going forward, as it becomes our new way of life, one thing you can do is learn to be an active social media user. Just ensure that it doesn’t get addictive.
Leverage your strengths
Unlike office or school environments, working and studying remotely means that help is a little bit further. But this is not the time to be a researcher when your strengths are in portfolio management. You cannot be everything at once, and that applies to your studies as well. Make use of collaborative software that helps your team play for work or participate in study groups to make your life easier.
Work on your finances
Most will say that personal finance is the number one burden they have on this planet. If you don’t have the time to analyze and plan your money well, things can go downhill very fast. You need to be able to pay for your education- and even though you are doing it online, that sometimes doesn’t make it any cheaper. You similarly need to see your projects through and meet your daily needs. Don’t ignore your money issues. They won’t go away on their own.
Separate work and study spaces (if possible)
There will always be the temptation to juggle several things at the same time when you work at home. That can usher in problems in your output quality and comprehension level when it comes to your study content. Have separate times for working and studying. Dedicate 9 to 5 for work and then study for a few hours before or after that. One way to remain disciplined regarding this is to have separate areas for study and work.
Create a better environment
You are probably going to be sitting for long hours, so invest in an ergonomic chair. Better yet, you can try a standing desk that can save you from the health risks of prolonged sitting. The point is you can only study and work better if you do it in a comfortable environment.
If you waste an hour of your morning on reality TV, chances are you will compensate that for work in the evening and skip on your planned study session. That’s just an example of how distractions can hold you back as a remote worker and self-learning student. Be sure to switch off that television and turn off social media notifications on your phone.
Self-analyze and test yourself
A little competition in the workplace may be what used to motivate and encourage you to push the limits. Competition helps the same way in a classroom environment. Now that you are working away from the office and studying away from school, it can be hard to track and measure performance. One thing that we would encourage you to do is set clear goals for your work and study.
After the end of your business day, list down your accomplishments and find out if you are getting closer to your goals. With regards to your studies, take regular tests, ideally after each topic to track progress.
Manage external expectations
Some clients and bosses push it too far with their expected deliverables. That could drive you into overworking, and then you succumb to stress and fatigue. Take charge and speak up about your work schedules and what can be accomplished in a day. Let your clients and bosses understand that working from home doesn’t mean that you now have unlimited time in your hands.
Take your vacation when it’s due
Most remote workers say that taking vacation time is a struggle for them. The challenge may be that you work while travelling, and so it becomes difficult to distinguish work from vacation. Either way, you need a break to recharge.
Be sure to get clear communication from HR on how your scheduled holidays are impacted by remote working. If you were getting three weeks of vacation in a year before you switched to remote working, why should it be any less?
Study when you are focused the most
If you are a morning person that would mean that your best time to study is at daybreak before your workday begins. For others, the best time to study is late in the evening. Find out what works well for you, then study when you are most productive and alert.
30 minutes of study when you are super alert is more effective than two hours of study when several other things are preoccupying your mind.
Don’t let chores get in the way
You likely have a family to take care of. And even if you live alone, there will be work to do, from cooking to cleaning to gardening. We advise that you set aside specific times for all these engagements. That will help to avoid disruptions when you sit down to study or work. And hey, and if your chores pile, you can always ask for help.
Ask the good neighbor to walk your dog while he is walking his or your sister to play with the kids while you study or work.
Create a timetable
A timetable helps to effectively make use of all the available hours you have for studying. It is highly encouraged when you have countless things to do. A study plan, on the other hand, helps you to stay organized with all the topics. By the time the exams come around, you would have studied each of them equally and thoroughly.
Grow your networks on both fronts
Watch out, studying and working at home may mean that you lose touch with your professional and school friends. One way to stay active in your networks while being a freelancer or digital nomad is to use platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter. Stay active.
Message your colleagues and mentors, and set periodic coffee or lunch dates with these people. You need them for success in your career and studies– sometimes it’s their words of wisdom and other times it’s their connections that get you closer to your goals.
Set ground rules with the people around you
Let your family members know not to play loud music when you study or work from home. Let your kids know that when you are working, they should play outside or in a different room. Then again, just because you are home doesn’t mean that you should do every other chore. Who was taking care of things when you were at the office? Don’t fire the house help.
The take-home message
Working and studying remotely can be exciting, even liberating for those that felt stuck in the matrix of life. Nevertheless, you must strike the right balance with your work, life and studies. Use these tips to grow your career and earn a degree or certification from the comfort of your couch.
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Just do it,
The QuestionBank Family