Working from home is probably harder than working in school. Teachers seem to set you even more work than they did before online school and, without the whole social aspect of school, it can be super hard staying motivated enough to do the work they set. Here are some tips that will help you keep your motivation AND your sanity so that you can finish that assignment that was set a long time ago!
1. Have a suitable workspace
I get it. It's so easy just to stay in bed and do your work there. But don't give in to the temptation! It's so important to make sure that the area that you do your work in is different from the area that you chill in. This means that, whenever you sit down to work, you've subconsciously said to yourself 'I'm working now because this is where I work'. It's the little changes that make a big difference! Your workspace can be a desk, or even the dining room table, as long as it's quiet and clutter-free.
Make sure that your area is tidy. The last thing you want to be doing is spending all your time looking for your notes which are scattered all over the place when you should be working instead. Have some sort of organization system to prevent this from happening: only keep the material that you need near you and organize the rest of your stuff so that it doesn't make too much of a mess. Trust me, a messy desk alone can demotivate you from working!
Before you start, make sure that you have everything you need nearby. Fill up a water bottle and keep it near you (and maybe even a snack). This stops you from having an excuse to leave your workspace: everything you need is there, so you might as well just do the work.
2. Get ready in the mornings
I don't mean put on a full face of makeup, change into a suit and look your best. But please don't stay in your PJs all day. Do your morning skincare routine, change into comfortable clothes (like leggings and an over-sized top) and do your hair- even if it's just brushing it or putting it in a bun. This will seriously help your mentality as you're no longer ready to just jump back into bed, but you are ready to get stuff done.
That being said, make sure that your morning routine doesn't take too long. Taking until 2 in the afternoon to finish a 'morning routine' is obviously very counterproductive. You need to find a balance: ensure that you feel good and look presentable, but don't take 3 hours to do so! Personally, all I do is change into comfortable clothes, tie my hair half-up, put some lip balm on, and I'm good to go. This is what works for me but you may have to do more, or less, to get yourself into the swing of things.
3. Make lists!
Make a to-do list, which has everything you want to do in the day. It can be in a fancy notebook, on a digital document, or on a scrap piece of paper. Pick what works for you! Also, find a way to show what tasks you need to prioritize. This can be by writing them in order of what you need to do, or you can color code. You can highlight things that MUST be done in yellow, things that SHOULD be done in orange and things that COULD be done in green. Try writing the list the night before. This will mean that, when you wake up in the morning, you're already in a productive mood because you've already planned out your day.
If you have a clear-cut schedule for the week and know exactly what needs to be done, make a list at the beginning of the week. You can then split the tasks up between the days so that you get everything done. For example, if you need to finish an essay, write 2 chapters of the book you're working on and organize your notes, you can divide these tasks up and work out where they would go in your week. However, this may not work if your teachers are constantly setting your assignments during the week.
Above all, make sure your lists/goals are realistic! Accept that you may not get everything done on your list, and don't expect too much of yourself.
4. Have some background noise
This will keep you engaged- and you might even associate doing work with something good like your favorite playlist! If you're doing more focused, intense work, listen to an ASMR. If you're doing something slightly more chilled out, listen to an instrumental (like a piano cover of Disney songs). Try not to listen to music with words because you might get distracted. If you do, try keeping it on quiet or, better yet, listen to songs in a language you don't understand. There are plenty of playlists on Spotify designed for such occasions. Use them! Or, alternatively, you can make your own playlist.
Studies have shown that having background music while working can help endurance during longer sessions. It can also aid memorization as it boosts your mood, which indirectly boosts your memory. However, louder music can be distracting particularly while completing comprehension tasks. Bear this in mind when you're choosing the music you're listening to- choose upbeat, classical music over heavy metal, for example.
5. Look after yourself.
Make sure you use this time at home to look after your physical and mental health! Set some time aside each day to exercise, watch your favourite movie or have a relaxing bath. You'll be healthier and feel better- which will increase your productivity. So, you see, watching a movie is helping you to be more productive in a way...
Eat well, stay hydrated and don't let your sleep schedule completely go out the window! There's nothing worse for productivity than a malnourished, tired and dehydrated person. Try avoiding sugary foods because, while you will be on a high for some time, you WILL crash. Instead, go for whole-grain food, carbohydrates, etc. if you can. Eat lots of fruit and vegetables, eat a reasonable amount (don't go hungry and NEVER skip meals) and try making the best out of the limited food resources you have. Go to bed at a reasonable hour and try not to wake up too late. This would give you some sort of routine and you won't be sleeping your days away. Also, have a bottle of water (preferably a reusable bottle because it's more environmentally friendly) with you at all times and keep drinking! Please bear these tips in mind: we are in the middle of a health pandemic and now it is especially important to stay healthy.
Try not letting this situation stress you out. If you have mental health complications that are arising because of this, stay calm. Avoid news channels, talk to someone about how you're feeling and don't overthink the situation! Get some fresh air and immerse yourself in soothing activities. Remember to social distance, and you should be fine.
6. Don't expect to be productive EVERY DAY.
No matter what your school says, having a day off will not lead to a failing grade! Instead, it'll give you something to look forward to, which will make you work harder and motivate you more. We have A LOT of time at home. That gives you plenty of time to do your assignment, write up your biology notes- and plenty of time to burn out if you work too hard! If, one day, you wake up super tired and just want to watch Netflix all day- do it! Use the time to relax and, trust me, it will do wonders for your motivation when you do need to work. Just make sure that your chill days don't outnumber your productive days- and you're all good!