Many of us are currently working and studying from home. When you work or study from home, the lines between work and life can blur. Sure, there are some benefits, like not having to get up at the crack of dawn to get yourself on a bicycle and into class before you’ve even had your coffee. But the benefits do not always outweigh the downsides. Being home all the time puts strain on your relationships and mental health, and being productive can be really difficult. In this article we give you five tips to help you regain a good study/life balance while studying at home.
You used to have a set schedule made for you and presented to you concisely. Usually you have class at least once a day, and while you’re up and out of the house you might as well stick around to study. That disappears completely while working from home. There is usually very little structure and that makes it difficult to set boundaries between working time and relaxing time. Here’s where the schedule comes in.
The specifics of the schedule aren’t important (besides the times you have online class). You are free to choose a schedule that works for you. If you are a morning person: get up when you wake up and get your work done. If you are a night owl, make use of this time to sleep in and do your work in the afternoon. As long as you make a decision about when your ‘work hours’ are going to be, you are good.
Stick to those hours and make sure you actually stop when it’s time to stop. Try to not put off work because you can ‘do it later’. Map out your schedule in advance and take it seriously. It will make your life much easier.
If you’re like me, your house is not really set up for studying or working from home full time. I don’t have a home office, I don’t even really have a desk. But I do have a separate corner of my dining table with a desk lamp, my laptop and a nice plant that’s just for getting work done. When I eat, I move to a different spot at the table. I don’t work on the couch, I don’t work from my bed. This is another mental boundary so that I can make a clear distinction between when it’s time to work and when it’s time to relax.
Of course, you might work the best from the couch or your bed, so you can make work-allocated spots there too (although that last one is not recommended if you want to be able to sleep at night). This way, when you are done working, you can leave your ‘office’.
I know I complained about the early morning bike ride in the intro of this article, but the separation of a commute might actually be helpful in defining your day. Having a morning and afternoon ritual can help give you some of that separation again. You can physically leave your house, walk around the block, and return. Even simple things like making yourself a really fancy pour over coffee or organizing your to do list at the start and end of every day can make a huge difference.
By creating these short little routines, you signal to yourself that it’s time to work, or it’s time to relax. You can build these things into your schedule to give you something to hold on to, even when the rest of your workday or study assignments are not as defined.
It’s tempting to take a million little breaks throughout the day or to just keep working while you are at it, but try to schedule real breaks in to your day. It doesn’t really matter how: along a regular work day schedule (a short little coffee break several times a day and a lunch hour in the middle) or more along the lines of a pomodoro-esque schedule (timed breaks every half hour with a 25 minute break in the middle). Giving yourself set breaks does not only again enforce your schedule, but you’re also less likely to tire yourself out working on something for too long, or the opposite, becoming a total slacker and not doing anything all day. Again: going outside might help with this.
After a long day of studying, getting home is usually the thing you look forward to the most. But if your classroom is literally also your living room, then there is no such reward. To remedy this, try to schedule (yes, that scheduling thing again) stuff you look forward to. Not only will it motivate you to get your work done in time, you also have something fun to do after, which is hugely important in these stressful times. So plan a show to watch, a call with a friend, a good book to read or an online exercise class, so you can have a nice reward when you finish your work.
I hope these tips will help you regain some balance in your life. Studying at home while also trying to have a normal life is difficult right now, but you can do it!