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The Student News Site of Central Oregon Community College

The Broadside

The Student News Site of Central Oregon Community College

The Broadside

How to stay productive while working and doing school from home
(photo by from pexels)

Kate Couch/The Broadside 

To the introvert the idea of working, doing school from home and socializing as minimally as possible probably sounds like a pipe dream. Though as everyone is (insert emotion that you feel towards the pandemic ____ly ) aware, that dream has become a reality. Working, doing school, parenting, fighting with parents and spouses, living in sweatpants are all done from the leeringly wearisome four walls of apartments or houses. Now all responsibilities are required to be completed in one environment. Because of this, It can be extremely difficult to stay productive, motivated and on task this term with these distractions. 

According to an interview from Time Magazine, Psychologist David Ballard talks about how procrastination is not just avoiding a task but rather replacing it with something menial or counterproductive. Many fall into the trap of procrastination in their day-to-day lives, but now add in extra distractions from being at home, it can be difficult to get any school or work done. 

Gathered below are some tips and strategies psychologists and experts have come up with, for ways one can stay motivated and productive while doing school and working from home. 

Separate workspace. 

The number one recommended thing is to have a separate workspace from home life. This could look like clearing off the kitchen counter every morning and getting out pens, pencils, and a computer; creating a workspace that is dedicated to working only. Many people don’t have an extra room in their home that they can dedicate as an office. Some people don’t even have room for a desk. So creating a space that is temporary but consistent will help get into a working mode.  

Putting a stamp on the space.

Another thing that can be helpful in making a workspace you. This could include adding scented candles, succulents, or a special coffee mug to only drink out of when doing work. Adding these special touches will help further separate work and home. In addition to this, having a schedule and a routine is crucial for top productivity. 

Taking breaks and going outside! 

An idea to accomplish taking breaks is 30:5, which is 30 minutes on (working or doing school), and 5 minutes taking a break. Every 5, 30-minute sessions it is important to take a 15-minute break. Some jobs will not allow their employee to do this so making sure to check with an employer before taking these kinds of breaks is advised. In addition going outside when taking breaks and not just looking at a phone is also beneficial. Other activities include taking a break and doing some stretches, a light workout, yoga routine or even drinking a glass of water outside. Its important to get moving and stay motivated! 

Getting dressed.

Even though it’s tempting to stay in pajamas all day psychologists say it’s much better to get dressed. In an article published in the journal for experimental social psychology, found that clothes and other things that hold symbolic meaning will make one’s brain engage with that activity the item has a connection to. This doesn’t need to be uncomfortable business casual clothes but rather the change from lounge clothes to work. Putting on glasses, stylizing hair in a bun and even wearing a blazer over a t-shirt and sweats will further separate work from home life, increasing productivity. 

Creating an unique sound.

Music means something different to everyone. However, choosing the right music to listen to while doing school or work is extremely important. The kind of music one listens to will put them in that right mood. Creating a playlist that sets a happy and engaged mood when doing work or school will help one stay motivated and not get distracted. 

Minimizing other sounds in the house like alarms, distancing oneself from other members of the household, and shutting doors and closing windows helps focus on the task at hand and makes it less likely to get distracted by nearby noises. Letting others know when one will be working and for how long will make it less likely for them to cause a distraction. With little kids at home, it is best to arrange for others to watch after them or if they’re old enough letting them know that you won’t be available for a certain amount of time. 

Putting the phone away.

Everyone knew this one was coming. It’s one of those things that everyone knows is good for them, but they don’t want to do it, like drinking 8 glasses of water in a day or eating a fair share of vegetables. In a study done by the Harvard research team, found that when asked to complete tasks like math problems, cognitive problems and memorization problems the sample group that had their phones face down on the table in front of them (with notifications turned off) preformed less adequately than the group that had their phones in their pockets or tucked away in a bag. Keeping a phone out of sight will keep it out of one’s mind, helping them not think about social media, emails, or texts that they may need to return; this will increase their productivity.

Staying in touch.

It is good to stay connected with friends and family in a safe way. With work and school being from home it can get easy to just want to lock oneself away. Making sure to go outside, getting exercise, calling and texting friends and arranging safe ways to see family will help keep one’s sanity in these times and mental health in good shape. 

Though it may seem impossible, staying productive, getting work done socializing and enjoying school are all possible online and at home!

In the meantime, COCC has tons of resources for students who have lost their job due to COVID or need help in any sort of way.

Works Cited:

Bacon, J. (2020, April 30). Council Post: Seven Tips For Staying Productive While Working From Home. Retrieved October 01, 2020, from

Brown University. (n.d.). Retrieved October 01, 2020, from

Forwardist. (2017, March 14). 3 science-backed ways to be more productive when you work from home. Retrieved October 01, 2020, from

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