2020 has been a rollercoaster of a year. With the latest announcements and guidance from the government, plus the extension of working remotely for many of us, it’s inevitably starting to take it’s toll. For some working from home is challenging and can often feel daunting and very isolating. Not everyone is tech-savvy and with the use of more and more new technologies, particularly in higher education to teach, learn and to simply communicate with our colleagues, it can feel quite overwhelming. With the added bonus of the pressures of family life thrown in, it’s important to look out for each other and most importantly take time out for you!
Finding the balance
Working days seem longer since lockdown and our workloads have increased, with ongoing pressures and deadlines, it can feel like we are drowning in constant emails and online meetings. So what can be done? What little things can we do, to take some control back in our lives? How do we find the balance between work and life?
Back at the beginning of lockdown, we put together some Top Tips from TEL to help our followers on social media (and us), adjust to this new way of working. For many of us we will be continuing working from home for the foreseeable future, with this in mind we thought it might be useful to revisit them, before the panic takes over!
Take regular breaks
It’s important to make sure we take time away from our screens during our busy days (something I’m especially guilty of not doing!). It’s not only good for our mental and physical health but also good for our productivity. It’s better to have shorter breaks more often from your workstation than longer breaks less often. Try to schedule in a short walk, an exercise or a short meditation session.
Create a dedicated workspace
We’ve become remote workers overnight and it’s often difficult to find ‘space’ in our homes to work. Some of us are fortunate to have a spare room which we can transform into a quiet office space. Others have created a workspace at their dining room tables. It’s important to create a dedicated workspace where you are able to work from home – this way you can feel like you are at work even if you aren’t physically in the office.
Write a to-do list
Write a to-do list at the start of every week, this is a must for me. It not only helps you to plan out your week but also to prioritise your tasks. Try and achieve one thing on your list, don’t be surprised if it all goes at the window. At the end of the day reflect on what happened, what went right, think positively. Don’t beat yourself up – tomorrow is another day!
Don’t panic if you get disconnected
I think we’ve all experienced this when working remotely. Things aren’t working quite like you thought they would and it’s easy to panic – but don’t! All technologies can be glitchy at times. Remember, if you lose connections, maybe a video conference, don’t worry – everyone is in the same boat and we’ll muddle through together.
Don’t lose contact with
your work colleagues
As I’ve mentioned above, working from home can often feel isolating. It’s important to keep in contact with our colleagues for our own well-being. Although we are all experiencing this crazy year together, we are all in very different circumstances with very different pressures. Some may be thriving under this new way of working and living, others may be struggling – it’s important to reach out, be kind and support one another.
Remember the 20-20-20 rule
Suffering from headaches and sore eyes since working from home is common, which is often the result of too much screen time. Remember to practice the 20-20-20 rule: 20 minutes on-screen needs a 20-second break during which you should blink 20 times. Give it a go!
Make sure to clock off
and switch off
Our working days have increased. We are starting work earlier and turning off our computers well into the night. We seem to be working more hours than ever before. It’s important for our mental health and wellbeing that we don’t burn out! Make sure that you try and have regular breaks from your screen throughout the day and log off when your working day is over. Turn off notifications on your phones to make sure that when you do clock off, you also switch off. Work/Life balance is hard to juggle when we are stuck indoors but being mindful to separate both mentally is essential.
Learn to deal with distractions
There are often distractions with working remotely. However, when the whole family are also thrown into the mix, learning not to be distracted can feel like an impossible task. Try to tackle things in small chunks and if you can’t achieve everything that you set out to in the day, then there’s always the next day. Don’t feel ashamed to call on your colleagues, friends or family to help out if they are able to. Be understanding of one another and take everything one step at a time.
Make time for exercise
Whatever your go-to exercise, it’s important to factor some into your day. It’s not only good for your body, but it also keeps your mind healthy. Exercise is the miracle cure we’ve always had! If you can’t get to a gym, then there are lots of online videos that can help you carry out home workouts, such as Joe Wicks, the nation’s favourite PE teacher and our own UoP Sport and Recreations Facebook page.
Work when you’re at your most productive
Nobody rushes through their work from morning to night – your motivation will naturally dip and rise throughout the day. When we are working from home, however, it’s more important to know when those dips and rises will take place and plan your schedule around them. To make the most of productive periods, save your harder tasks for when you know you’ll be in the right headspace for them. Slower points of the day for easier tasks.
Take time out – reflect on
how far you’ve come and
how much you’ve achieved!
Take some time out, even if it’s ten minutes in the day, be grateful for the small things in life and reflect on how far you’ve come and how much you’ve achieved this year. You’ll be surprised at how productive you have been!
Don’t be afraid to ask
Lots of new tools and technologies to learn, new terminology, head full of pedagogy, best practice and resources and zero time to do anything – can often feel overwhelming. As a team, TEL, offer lots of useful training sessions to help you get to grips with online teaching, we also offer 1-2-1 sessions and we can be contacted via email, or video call if you have a question – so please don’t be afraid to ask – just contact us!
And most importantly . . .
Be kind to yourself
One of the most difficult things to practice and that’s putting ourselves first and being kind to ourselves. It’s often hard to schedule some time in the day especially if you have a busy work and family life. However, a bath at the end of the day, meditation, a short exercise session, reading a book, listening to music are all ways we can take time out for ourselves.
It’s been a challenging time for us all and we may find some days are more productive than others. We’ve all had to adapt to a new routine since March, a new way of working and living. Make sure to take time out for yourself and always remember tomorrow is another day. Yes we may have to do this for a little bit longer, but we have shown that we are able to.
You may not think it but you’re doing great!