Get Organized! 10 Tips for Studying and Working from Home

With changes to our daily routine, it can be a challenge to get in the rhythm of working or studying from home. Here are 10 tips you could incorporate in your new routine to be the most organized and productive during your time at home!

1. Designate a permanent work space

Finding and designating a space in your home is vital to working, or studying, remotely. This means not working on your bed, or on that couch in your living room.

Why is this important? There can be a tendency to get distracted if you’re sitting in front of your TV, or lying comfortably in your bed. Designating a work space will help to rid of these distractions, and help lessen interruptions you might have when focusing on that assignment.

This may be difficult to do if you are living in a residence on campus, or you’re surrounded by roommates, and/or family members. If you’re living in a smaller residence room, it might be helpful to mentally “block off” the more distracting areas of your room (e.g your bed). Visualize that these distracting areas are not there when you’re working away on that group project. If you live in a place where you’re constantly surrounded by people, have a talk with them to see if you can arrange a quiet time, where you are unavailable and need a period of the day to yourself to focus on tasks at hand.


2. Write down a list

Now that you’ve found your workspace at home, it’s time to figure out what you need to get done! Whether it is work tasks or assignments/readings, writing them down will help you sort out what you want, and need, to get done for the upcoming days. Writing out lists can also be useful to see what’s due sooner so that you can prioritize which assignments you should focus on first. There are various methods you could use to write out these lists, so it might be useful to set one list for coursework, and one for work obligations (if applicable). Start with tasks that have deadlines for the week, and work your way down to ones that aren’t due for a while.

A side note: For some, it’s motivating to have boxes next to the tasks you have written down. With each task you finish, you can check it, or cross it out (It is SO satisfying).

3. Schedule out your week

Having a look at your tasks, begin to space them out for the week. Setting out a schedule for yourself can help you focus on what needs to get done. Whether it is at 7:00 in the morning, or 6:00 in the evening, knowing when you will be the most motivated and productive is key to scheduling your week. If you’re the type that loves to sleep in, waking up at 7:00 AM may not be the ideal time to get work done. You might just be exhausted and end up frustrated because you’re not finishing tasks at the pace you wanted. It’s totally fine to schedule out smaller “blocks” of time, and spread them throughout the day. If you have trouble sitting down for a long period of time and focusing, this is a useful method. If you can sit for hours on end, and still get work done, that works too! Make sure to remember that you have limitations too. Be realistic with these goals/tasks you’ve scheduled out to do. It might not be the best if you want to get 20 things done on one day, and then 2 the next. Using S.M.A.R.T goals can be a helpful method to schedule your week. S.M.A.R.T stands for:





Time – based

     On top of scheduling out your week for tasks, also make sure you’ve left space for spending time with those you love. This is vital to a balanced life, as times are uncertain and it’s important to surround yourself with people who motivate, encourage and support you.


4. Set an alarm

Now that you’ve set your schedule for the week, make sure to set alarms for yourself. Setting an alarm for the time that you’ve designated to get up, work, etc, can help you keep on top of your schedule. It’s also nice to do this if you tend to get carried away with what you’re doing at the moment… and next thing you know it’s the fifth episode of whatever TV show you’re watching. Alarms are good for when you’re losing focus on tasks at hand, and can help you be alert.

This might not work for everyone, and that’s okay too. Everyone has a different method for how to remind themselves that they need to get to work. Whatever that method might be, just be mindful of the expectations you’ve set for yourself, and you’ll be smooth sailing.


5. Set positive intentions

Before you begin your “work day”, exercising mindfulness is useful for when you feel anxious about anything going on, or any deadlines you might have coming up. Saying to yourself that you will get these tasks finished, because that’s what you expect of yourself. Remind yourself before you work that there are many things that are out of your control, but you have the control over what you choose to do with your energy, time, and thoughts. In recent years, exercising mindfulness has become a great method of meditation to bringing inner calm. If you have never practiced this, there are many apps you can download on your phone, such as Waking Up, or Headspace. By setting positive intentions for your day, you are setting yourself up nicely for the day – with a positive mindset.


6. Get changed

As nice as it is to be able to roll out of bed, make a cup of coffee, and to work away at your tasks, don’t forget about something important: the clothes you’re wearing. “What difference does it make if I wear my PJ’s versus my work clothes when I’m only working from home?” Realistically, yes, a lot of people do wear their PJ’s when they work from home since no one is looking at them anyway. However, working in your PJ’s might decrease your productivity levels from the get-go. If you wear clothing that you’d put on for a shift, or for a class, there can be a huge gap in productivity. Putting on an outfit you’d wear outside can motivate you to work away at tasks as if you were surrounded by your colleagues or classmates.

The clothes you put on does not necessarily need to be super formal, but changing the outfit you have on can send a signal to your brain that it’s time to get to work. It might also help to create a sense of partaking in your normal routine. Aside from putting on your “outside” clothes, it is important to attend to other aspects of your appearance overall (such as brushing your hair, taking a shower, etc). Ensuring you do these appearance-based tasks can help you feel like you’re taking the necessary steps towards self-care.


7. Schedule your breaks

Breaks in between class or work is necessary! Who wants to work for 8 hours straight without stopping to smell the roses (or those house plants you’ve been taking care of)? Scheduling breaks for yourself helps you to regain your focus if you feel like it is fading during your “shift” or your online class. These breaks can include your meal time, or a quick coffee run…to your kitchen. It’s easy to think “Oh, if I can eat and work simultaneously, I can finish earlier.” If you know that you tend to work and eat at the same time, shut down your computer for the full break that you’ve set for yourself. These breaks should help you clear your mind before starting work again.

Breaks can also include a social aspect. Having a snack, or sharing a meal with someone can help you feel that social connection that some might lack when working at home. Aside from those Zoom meetings, socializing with those who are important to you can help recharge you if you feel depleted from all the work you’re doing.


8. Get physically active!

Another break idea: get moving! After sitting down for a while, most tend to feel sluggish. Physical activity helps you wake up if you’re feeling sleepy while completing a task. It doesn’t have to be a full gym session, or a 10k run. It can be as simple as getting up and stretching for 5 – 10 minutes, or doing some ‘deskercises’.  Getting up and moving is also a great way to get the blood flowing in your body. If you feel stuck on how to continue on with that term paper, or figuring out how to finish your work obligation, physical activity can help clear your mind. Likewise, if you’re feeling stressed or anxious, a movement break can help. Physical activity is beneficial in many ways, and one of these ways includes helping to relieve any tension you might feel physically, mentally, or emotionally.

If these ideas aren’t too appealing, there is a simple way of being active. Create your own standing desk! How? Grab a cardboard box, or stack big textbooks, to add on top of your desk space and then plop your laptop on top. Standing can help burn calories while you work away at that assignment, without you really needing to do anything.


9. Cut yourself some slack

     In an ideal world, you would finish the tasks you’ve written out for yourself with the schedule you’ve set. However, as students, and employees, we all know it can be difficult to do this 24/7. Some days we feel less productive than others, other days, something comes up that needs attending to. Just remember that this is okay and completely normal! No one is built like a machine to finish all the tasks set out in front of them in an efficient manner. Everyone is human, and some days might be more difficult than others to finish your work. If you feel your mind drifting off and thinking about the next vacation you want to take, ask yourself if others in your situation would do the same. Is the answer yes? Then it’s normal, and you can keep moving forward!

10. Have an evening routine/unwinding routine

It’s now the end of the work day, and you find yourself wondering what to do next. Creating an evening routine can help signal to your brain that work is done for the day, and that it’s time for some “you” time. This can look different from person to person, whether this means cooking supper, going for a run, or spending time with a loved one. It can be just as easy if you were to shut off your laptop for the night and open up a book to read. An unwinding routine is necessary for your brain to calm down before you head off to bed. Getting a good night’s rest is vital for your productivity levels, emotional, mental, and physical health.