I do a substantial amount of work remotely, from my trusty MacBook in the comfort of my apartment. I’m sure many of you have schoolwork or even a remote job that requires you to spend some time working away from school or the office. The freedom of working from home seem liberating at first, however you may begin to notice other things that require your immediate attention. “Did I take the laundry out of the wash? Maybe I should make a quick snack…I really need to clean that.” And before you know it, you’ve spent 3 hours doing everything except work.
Over the years I’ve learned a few helpful habits that can get you to focus on the task at hand and not everything else.
- Never work in your pajamas. Being comfortable is great, but being too comfortable makes you sleepy and not feel like being productive. If you have to work immediately after getting up, shower and get dressed first. It will help you feel ready.
- Never work on your bed. I’ve been guilty of this many a time because I haven’t always had a great workspace, but this also makes you sleepy and not particularly productive.
- Which brings us to the next tidbit – carve out a niche of a space to work at that’s clean and in a quiet space. Any kind of table or desk and chair set aside for the task should work. If you can’t find a quiet space due to roommates, make sure you have headphones on hand and some music to help you focus.
- Have good lighting to help you see what you’re doing and focus. Either good natural light or a lamp will help you feel alert and focused.
- Put distractions aside. If you constantly think of other things you need to do or see unfinished business in your apartment, keep a notepad on your work desk and make a to-do list for when you’re finished. When you think of things you can add them, but you won’t have to leave your task.
- If you really do need a break, try a 10 minute walk outside. It will help you feel refreshed and reset, ready to get back to work.
The summer heat isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, but the beginning of the academic year looms in the not-so-distant future. Are you ready for it? Is your apartment ready for it? During the summer months, desks and workspaces get covered up, supplies distributed here and there, and for the most part it gets shoved into a corner somewhere and forgotten for the summer months. If you’re prepping for the school year ahead, there are some helpful ways for you to get your apartment ready, as well as your state of mind.
- Carve out a good work space Put a good desk or table near some outlets in your room or in a space that’s not too close to the TV or soundsystem. Have a nice chair ready so when you’re poring over books you’re not feeling uncomfortable. Organize your desk so that it’s ready for the year ahead by clearing off old papers and grouping tools and utensils in caddies or bins. Keep your electronic cables in order with cable clips on the wall or a cable organizer you can get at the office supply store. I also like to have a calendar, bulletin board, or chalkboard up on the wall behind the desk along with some inspiring pictures to help keep me focused and inspired.
- Clear out the landing strip Make a nice clean space for you to stop and unload when you get in the door. You’ll want to drop your stuff wherever, but you’ll stay more organized if the mail is in a place you can remember and your backpack isn’t in the middle of the floor for you or someone else to trip over. Using a small table with an organizer on it and a chair or stool helps to keep things in their correct places near the door.
- Organize your bookshelves You’re most likely going to have some new books and it might be time to get rid of the old ones, possibly by selling them at the local used bookstore or online. Clear a good sized space for your new textbooks so you don’t have to scramble after you get them.
- Clean out the refrigerator Kind of like spring cleaning, back to school is a good time to just weed out all the junk around. Clean out all the old and questionable food from the fridge and prepare for having less time to do tedious tasks like this. It might also be a good time to stock up on essentials that are non perishable or that keep for a long time. Basically, do things that take time while you have time!
Have a great school year!
University of Florida, Santa Fe College, and neighboring schools are back in session for the fall and it’s the time of year when we organize, prioritize, and get ready for the upcoming season. Shopping for school supplies has always been the most fun part of heading back for the academic year and the enthusiasm hardly waned even as I went through four years of college. Having an organized desk and fresh supplies provides additional motivation to jump right into school, or work, or both, which may have seemed less enticing otherwise.
So when looking for the tools of your trade, don’t hesitate to check the handmade site Etsy. There is a great deal of attractive and useful objects for the desk in your apartment. These are some of my personal favorites:
Utensil organizer – This maple utensil holder is beautifully simple and incredibly useful. Keep all your best writing utensils handy and organized.
Docking station – This handmade wooden docking station is spectacularly designed to hold a myriad of personal items, including your phone while it charges.
Fancy pencils – A rainbow of colors to entertain you while you jot down notes and work those hard math problems.
A lovely planner – Keep track of all your homework, classes, and appointments in a marbled cover planner.
Hanging shelf– Hang this reclaimed wood shelf on the wall behind your desk for additional items you want to keep within reaching distance.
College can be one of the most liberating, enjoyable experiences of your life. It is generally the first opportunity one is given to truly be the master of one’s own life’s path. Having this authority is empowering, however comes with a great deal of weight. There are many big decisions to be made and responsibilities to assume as a college student. Chances are, your parents are no longer checking to make sure you stick to your path and follow through on all of your assignments. When adjusting to the college lifestyle, or when experiencing the strains of the your academic workload, it is key to understand how you can manage stress. Otherwise it can have detrimental physical and emotional side effects.
The attitude you adopt in everyday life can make a big difference in your level of stress. For example, if you have a difficult assignment due soon, instead of thinking about how hard it will be or how you don’t think you can handle it, remember that you’ve made it through years of school and various difficulties before in your life and you have the strength to make another stride. Remember, those who we consider successful have all met difficulties (and have also failed at times, too!)
Keeping your academics organized will help eliminate stress later. Maintain an up-to-date calendar with your assignments and due dates, as well as other goals and when they should be met. A daily to-do list or set of goals is a good way to stay on track every day and keep up with what needs to be done. Clutter can also contribute to stress, so a clean, calm environment is always best.
Use de-stressing activities to cool down and recenter yourself. If you are feeling worn out, try a power nap. Power naps can help you feel more alert and ready to be productive. Exercise is a great way to relieve excess stress and clear your mind. Try yoga, a run, or your favorite type of exercise for at least 20 minutes every day.
For additional information on identifying stressors and alleviating their effects, use University of Florida’s set of great resources on school stress here.
(photo credit: http://liberalartssociety.tumblr.com/)