Dear Little sis,
So, recently I’ve been getting the question, how do I manage my time when working from home? It’s a challenge that we all struggle with, myself included. Establishing a routine can be especially hard when changes are thrown your way. It took me a long time to adapt to college living, and now, I’m being forced to adapt to college learning at home. With this, comes new ways to manage time. One benefit to all of this is you shouldn’t have to factor in walking to class, or chatting with friends.
How can you make the most out of your day and truly maximize your time? Everyone’s schedule is going to look slightly different. Some of us don’t like to get up early and others do. So, feel free to adjust these tips to fit your own schedule and needs. For the most part, I feel like I’ve had more free time since working from home. If you really try to focus on your work as early in the day as possible, most likely you’ll find that you have a ton of time as well.
1. Journal for 10-15 Minutes
I’ve chosen to get up a little earlier than I have to most mornings, just so I can get in a couple minutes with the Lord before starting my day. I think this just serves as a really great reminder of where my anxiety during this time needs to go. Taking this time to myself allows me to really get centered, put my worries aside, and focus on what needs to get done for the day. I’ve been following a bible reading plan from @thedailycatherine. I have attached a photo for you guys in case you’d like to read any. So far, I have really enjoyed this plan, especially for the season we are in right now.
2. Brain Dump
After a few minutes of journaling, it is super helpful to just take about five minutes and write down everything that needs to get done for the day. Make a list of the lecture videos you need to watch, essays that need to be written, assignments that are due, tests that need to be studied for, literally everything and anything you can think of. Once you have all of this written down you can take a deeper look at it. Determine what things are most important and should be done first. Knowing what needs to be done each day helps me gage how long I’ll be doing work. If I think it’s a pretty light day, I may make a note to work ahead a little on an essay.
3. Get a weekly planner or use mine!
I’m sure most of you already have planners you use to stay on top of things, but now is the time to put them to good use. I didn’t always write things down even though I had a planner. Now that I’m at home the only way I can keep track of everything coming up is if I write it all down. This has proven especially important because half the time I forget what day of the week it is. That makes it super easy to miss assignments! In case you don’t have a weekly planner you can download my weekly planner and use it for the remainder of the semester!
I also really love to bullet journal. This is a great way to create planners that reflect your planning needs. It’s also a really great creative outlet for me. It may be helpful to try doing this if you have a little extra time on your hands, or want to do something a bit therapeutic.
4. Make a list of priorities
I kind of talked about this in the brain dump section, but I just wanted to emphasize again the importance of putting those priorities at the top of the list. I’ll be the first to tell you I have a habit of procrastinating important things by doing not so important things. This is a major problem because then I’m up late doing the things that MUST be done. I know it stinks and you really don’t want to work on that lab report, but put that stuff at the top of the list so you will be less likely to avoid it.
5. Use timers
This has proven the most helpful for me even during my normal college life. It’s a fact that our brains can only focus for at most 50 minutes before we begin to lose focus. When we reach that point, it’s going to take us a lot longer to get stuff done. To combat that problem take a break! I’ll set timers for 30-60 minutes depending on what I’m working on. I won’t look at my phone at all during that time, and I wait for the alarm to tell me when it’s break time. This allows me to get a solid amount of work in because I’m motivated to push through for my break. I like to set a 10-15 minute timer for my breaks. You can do whatever you want with that time, but it’s completely yours
6. Try to create a schedule
If you really want to work on time management you have to create structure. Majority of students who are home from college right now have said they miss the structure of being at school the most. Why do you only have structure at school? I know it’s in our hands to create our schedules now, and to get our work done, but no one is stopping us from creating structure. Take some time and make a new schedule for yourself. Use something like google calendar to set out blocks of time for your “at home schedule”.
I put an example of my schedule here so you can see what I’m talking about. Make yourself accountable. Treat these blocks of time as if they were your real classes that you have to show up to for credit. This is an extremely simplified version, but it’s just to give an idea of how to create a schedule that can send you optional reminders.
7. Know your time of day
We all have that special “time of day” where we are most productive. I’m a morning person through and through, so for me the best time to get work done is in the morning. I like to wake up early and work until about 5pm when we factor in homework. That gives me the rest of the night to unwind and go to bed at a reasonable hour. Maybe your optimal time is to work from 12pm to 8pm, or maybe you’re an absolute night owl and work best from 6pm to 12am. There is no perfect time that works for everyone, but it’s important to find the time that works for you. Take the time while you are home to play around with doing work at different times. Knowing your optimal work time will prove to be important even when you go back to school and have a set schedule.
8. Put the phone away during "work hours"
This is something I’m trying to get better at. I tend to get bored halfway through lectures and turn on my phone for a quick scroll through instagram or pinterest. That causes me to have to replay parts of the lecture or to spend an hour on an assignment that should have only taken thirty minutes. The point is, if I just put my phone aside during my work periods, I would get work done faster and would have more time to spend on my phone later. Honestly, looking through my phone often leaves me feeling less productive as well, and sometimes causes me to lose motivation. So, try your best to put the phone away while working.