One of the biggest challenges the pandemic has brought to us is remote working or online school. Working alone at your desk without speaking to anyone except via videoconferences as well as trying to draw the line between school/work and home are some of the challenges you might have encountered in the past months. Therefore, with the next online semester coming up, I would like to share with you some of the tips I have discovered as a full-time online student, and that could maybe help you too!
- Have an ergonomic working station
Ergonomic can be defined as “an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely” (Merriam-Webster). In other words, having an ergonomic working station is a working station that is adjusted and personalized to you to have the best posture. By having a good working posture, you will be more efficient, but mostly, it will prevent any injuries such as tendinitis, epicondylitis, etc. Those types of injuries are very painful and take a lot of time to heal.
Some of the main points to look for when adjusting your working station are to make sure that your feet touch the ground. Then, try as must as possible to adjust the height of your desk so that your arms form a 90-degree angle. Having neck support on a chair is also something that can help greatly your posture. Also, make sure that your screen is at the height of your eyes to prevent neck injuries. By focusing on those three aspects, your working posture will be better, and therefore, it can prevent injuries. Note that investing in an adjusting desk that allows you to work in a standing position is another change that can help to vary the working positions.
Here is where the items from my working station come from:
2. Have a routine
At work or school, we do have a routine. We have an alarm set each morning, a specific time where we leave the house, there are moments where we take breaks, there is a lunch period, and an hour we leave work or school. To remain productive and not disturb our “internal clock”, it is important to keep a routine for when we work from home. If not, it can be hard to draw the line between work/school and home, which is not great for mental health and motivation. Get dressed COMPLETELY instead of only the part that we see in video-conference (PJ’s pants, but nice shirt…been there too many times;). Then, prepare yourself as you would normally do if you would go out for work or school. It can seem pretty simple, but it actually helps to put ourselves into a “working mindset”.
3. Take breaks
We should technically take a 5-minutes break every 25 minutes. If 25 minutes is too short for you, try at least every hour, but a 10-15 minutes break. Stand up, eat something, but mostly, take your eyes off your screen. Screen fatigue (also known as Asthenopia) is more common when working or studying from home as all of our meetings/classes are via the computer, and when there is no meeting, most of the work is on the computer too. By taking breaks and looking at other things than a screen, it decreases the risk of ocular fatigue which common symptoms are headache, pain around the eyes, dry eyes, blurred vision, or tired eyes. (Healthline)
4. To-Do List
To-do lists were a game-changer for me for online school. Before your first class or before starting to work, write down all the things you would like to achieve today. Doing so will help your productivity and the feeling that you have done what you had to do for the day. To-do lists are also a great tool to draw the line for when you have worked enough for the day. You checked every box? Time for well-deserved rest. Also, if in the middle of the day you realize that you have put way too much stuff on your to-do list, you have the right to make some modifications! Focus on priorities, and the other stuff will be on the next day’s to-do list.
5. A walk a day keeps anxiety away
For some people, online school or remote working is a big source of stress. The way I have found to handle my anxiety is to go for a walk every day. It can seem somewhat simple, but it helps A LOT to get a breath of fresh air. I also suggest listening to some podcasts if you do not like to walk alone (see my top 3 favorite podcasts at the end of this post). Being confined all day at our desk is hard, but going outside can make a big difference for your mental health.
This is it for my tips to survive remote working and/or online school. I hope it can motivate you to go through the next semester or the upcoming months of remote working if it is your case. I also think it is essential to reduce the expectations towards ourselves as the context of learning/working is very different. It is ok if you do not get the grades you wanted or if you were not as effective you wanted for this day. Listen to your body and mind and what it needs. If you need a rest or to take a breath of fresh air, allow yourself this break. Work can wait, but not your health.
Top 3 of my favorite podcasts
1- This Podcast Will Kill You
For more information about this podcast: https://thispodcastwillkillyou.com/
2- Les Pires Moments de l’Histoire (French)
For more information about this podcast: https://cutt.ly/fjbQABe
3- Mindful In Minutes
For more information about this podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/mindful-in-minutes/id1295718287