How to Increase Productivity When Working/Studying From Home

As you all know, a lot of us are now working from home, whether that’s a job, university studying or schooling. It’s difficult adapting to these new circumstances and sometimes it’s hard to get into a routine.

I’ve decided to share some tips that will (hopefully) help those of you in lockdown to be more productive when working from home, but I hope it will be helpful not just in the present moment, but for anyone in the future too, such as for students and freelancers.

 

Set yourself daily goals

This is something that I actually incorporated into my daily routine at the start of this year. Whilst I have a calendar hanging on my wall with my events etc. for the day, I use a diary too – but instead of using it only for events, I write down everything I plan to do that day.

For example, a few days ago I wrote:

  • Do a few hours of work in the morning
  • Complete more of google garage course
  • Tea & a book in the sun
  • Yoga 6pm
  • Watch an episode of TV I love

I write down this list as soon as I wake up. It sets me up with my intentions for the day and helps me stay on track, rather than waste time lying in bed or deciding what I should do next.

It is also nice to write positive messages to yourself if one of your goals for the day is something that is worrying you.

For example, a month ago I wrote:

  • children’s literature seminar – I have my group presentation – I’m going to be calm, speak slowly, take a breath, and it will be great.

It helps a lot with confidence and placing trust in yourself!

Setting goals is also a great way of reminding yourself not to forget self-care!

For example, write down:

  • Take a 15 minute break to meditate
  • Watch an episode of TV with a cup of tea, away from my phone
  • Read a chapter of my book

You’re much more likely to follow it if you write it down!

 

Allocate a work/study space

It can be helpful to allocate a certain space in your home to do work, so that your mind will associate it with productivity. This means that, as comfortable as it is, working in your bed is probably not the best idea. It will only leave your mind alert and wired when it comes to falling asleep.

A desk is often the best place to work – it encourages you to sit upright and you have a lot of space to put laptops, hot drinks, papers, pens, etc. If possible, use a different room to your bedroom.

 

Turn your phone off (or put it on airplane mode)

Assuming you don’t need your phone for your job, this is a great way to minimise distractions and focus on the task at hand.

How many times have you finished one task, decided to check your phone, and ended up wasting time on it for another fifteen, twenty, thirty minutes? Instead, you could have taken a short break to get a drink or snack and started on the next task.

As much as we like to think we can multitask (and when it comes down to it, we can), it drains your energy much faster than you think. If you want to make it through the day efficiently, ditch the phone and get your tasks done before you scroll through social media.

 

Get some fresh air

Sometimes it can feel very stuffy and warm when inside for long periods of time, so getting some fresh air can reawaken your mind. This is as simple as opening the back door into your garden to stand outside for five minutes, or even just opening a window and sticking your head out like a dog in a car.

Basking in nature is also really helpful for boosting your mental health, so if you can open a window or door onto nature, that’s even better.

 

Exercise

When you’re stuck inside, it can become so easy to spend all day sat at a desk, but this is not ideal for your posture or your health! Try to get a bit of exercise into your routine if you can.

For example:

  • Get up every half an hour to do some stretches
  • Walk around when you’re taking a call
  • Do a 15 minute workout (there’s lots of youtube videos on this!)
  • Put on some music and dance to your favourite song!

This increases your energy level and therefore productivity.

 

Look after your wellbeing

We are all social beings at heart, whether we’re extrovert or not, so spending long periods of time working at home, with no social interaction, can make you go a little crazy.

Here are a few examples of ways you can look after yourself:

  • Reach out to your family and friends and give them call
  • Give yourself a break, whether that’s sitting with a cup of tea for ten minutes, or doing a meditation exercise
  • Make sure you’re doing one thing you really love every single day, whether that’s reading, watching a film, cooking, or pursuing any hobby – this gives your day meaning
  • Distance yourself from drama, world news or social media – these can get inside your head without you even realising

Increasing your overall wellbeing will not only help you to feel happier, but it will also increase your motivation to get work done.

 

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I hope these tips are useful for anyone struggling to find the motivation to work.

Let me know if you have any tips of your own!

You can find me on social media here:

Instagram: @mymindspeaksaloud

Twitter: @mindspeaksaloud

6 Ways to Switch Up the Way You Study (check out my first article!!)

I am super excited because my first article for the Graduate Recruitment Bureau’s blog was published today!! It’s not often I connect this blog to my life outside of the written world, but I feel like my confidence has grown so much since starting this blog that I’m no longer afraid for you guys to see the real me behind the page (or at least some of it).

The link to the article I’ve written is below and I really hope that it is useful for any of you who are also studying at university. Please let me know your thoughts 🙂

https://www.grb.uk.com/blog/6-ways-to-switch-up-the-way-you-study

 

My Favourite Mental Health Books

Today is World Book Day, but it is also University Mental Health Day. Since I am a huge lover of reading and have struggled a lot with my mental health whilst at university, this day is really important to me. Therefore, what better to do than list some of my favourite mental health books?

1. Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig Image result for reasons to stay alive

I know what you’re thinking, I’m talking about Matt Haig again, but his books have been really helpful to me over the past couple of years. He gives an account of his struggle with mental health with no filter and that’s what I love about it. He doesn’t make it seem cool or sugarcoat it – it is his raw feelings in book form and I really admire that. For people who struggle with anxiety and/or depression, this may be really useful to you. Read my book review here.

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2. Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig

If you thought I’d just stop at one of Matt Haig’s books, you’d be very wrong. Whilst this one also tackles mental health, it is vaster in its approach to technology and social media. These are things that have become second nature to us and Haig discusses how this affects our minds. I think anyone who finds themselves even mildly attached to the internet can relate to this book. Read my book review here.

3. How to Survive the End of the World by Aaron GilliesImage result for how to survive the end of the world

Technically I haven’t actually finished this book yet, but I’m in the process of reading it, so that counts, right? This book focuses on topics similar to Matt Haig, but has more of a focus on anxiety. I really like the humour that Gillies brings to this book and the informal way it is written. It is split into categories, such as “My anxious brain vs the morning” and “My anxious brain vs socialising” which makes it really easy to pick out the parts as and when you need them. This one doesn’t have a book review yet (sorry).

4. Your journal

So I got to number four and realised that I haven’t actually read as many mental health books as I thought. Go me. However, having your own notebook and jotting down your thoughts is just as much a mental health book as any. It’s a way to release tension, to rationalise your thoughts, and you don’t even have to read it. Sometimes writing out your inner thoughts can be scary because you don’t know what’s lurking there, but it is unbelievably rewarding. Trust me.

 

I really hope this list was somewhat helpful, despite my slight downfall at the end with my lack of ideas. Today is a day about sharing books and caring for others, and I think that’s the perfect day.

How much time do you spend on your phone?

Just over a week ago I updated my iPhone to the latest ios. If you’ve done the same, you may have noticed the “screen time” in settings. And it’s safe to say that once you’ve found it, it’s hard to go back.

This is my screen time for this week. As you can see, some days have gone better than others, but the aim is to lower the average!

On “screen time” it tells you how long you’ve spent on your phone a day. It is separated into categories (social media, productivity, creativity, etc.) and also individual apps (messenger, instagram, camera, etc.). It adds up the amount of time you’ve used your phone for over the course of the week, giving you an average, whilst simultaneously making you feel worse about the fact that you’ve spent more time on your phone than actually working. As a result, I felt like I needed to do something.

It may have been a coincidence, but around the time “screen time” was introduced, I was in the middle of reading ‘Notes on a Nervous Planet’ by Matt Haig (book review coming), which is centred around the power of social media and how using our phone affects our everyday life to the point that we simply can’t live without them. I also watched a couple of videos on YouTube about people quitting social media too.

You may think I’m about to claim I’ve quit social media too and haven’t used my phone since, but I haven’t gone quite that far. Instead, I thought about how using my phone affects my life and how it mostly prevents me from focusing on my uni work. I often reach for my phone when I’m meant to be working out of boredom, when really that only prolongs the amount of time I’m studying because it takes me longer to complete it. Solution? Study timetable.

Here you can see the length of time I’ve spent on each app this week.

So on Monday I sat down and put together a timetable of when I have lectures and seminars, when I have societies/clubs, and then filled in the gaps with study sessions (to a reasonable extent). I decided that during these sessions I would leave my phone at least two metres away from me (so I’d be too lazy to get up to check it) and would only allow myself to look at it briefly if I got up for a toilet break (but to reply to no messages unless they’re urgent). 

Surprisingly, it started a lot better than I thought. I wasn’t reaching towards my phone as much already (perhaps because I’d begun it with a very positive and motivated mindset) and I felt really happy that I was getting things done. Of course, I instantly became a lot more tired because of this. I was focusing a lot more and sometimes over-working to an extent, which meant by the end of the afternoon I was already ready for bed. 

By Friday, in all honesty, I had started to slack. However, I don’t even feel bad about it; I got a lot of work done this week and I actually feel on top of it for once. Also, it’s important to have breaks too. 

I think the study timetable helped a lot to cut down on my phone use. There were some days where it was still pretty high, but actually it was more down to productivity apps than social media so I think that’s okay. At this moment in time, I feel like I use social media for what’s important – to keep in contact with my friends and family back at home and to keep up with uni updates for societies/clubs. There are times when I mindlessly scroll but I’m definitely getting better and stopping myself before it gets too much. 

How much time do you spend on your phone? Do you use social media more than you should? 

A Level Results Day!

So as most of you know, today many students have received their AS and A2 results. Annoyingly I woke up really early, feeling pretty worried about what I was going to get. I walked into school for the final time (which is a crazy thought!) to pick up the envelope and then opened them in the car before making my way home.

I think what is the most overwhelming thing when picking up results is not just the grades themselves, but knowing the sheer amount of work and effort you have put into them – two years worth! – and that once opened, all the stress and anxiety that has built up because of them can now be let go of. It’s a feeling you can’t really describe.

When it comes to results, I admit I really am a perfectionist; I set all these high standards for myself and then when I don’t reach them, beat myself up about it. It’s good because it keeps me motivated to do the best than I can do, but then I get frustrated when I don’t get what I think I deserve. To be honest, when I first opened my results today I got a bit upset with one of my grades. Going to study English Literature at uni in September, I really wanted to get an A or A* in English A level, just to prove to myself that I deserved a place there, so to get a B was kind of disheartening. It didn’t make any sense when I’d got an A in my coursework, had put everything into the exams and thought it had actually gone really well. And it sounds crazy that I’d get upset over it, but it’s something that I can’t help.

But then once the initial shock had settled in I realised: what did it matter? I am an idiot for getting upset about one tiny grade when I already have a place at my uni of choice. Okay yes, it does feel like some of my efforts went to waste. But hey, I did everything that I could possibly do and that’s all that matters.  

So I am now proud to say that I achieved AAB and I am really happy about it! I never would have thought in a million years that I could have got an A in maths and after all the detailed mind maps and memorisation I did for Religious Studies, an A is a really great achievement.

So for all of you out there who are in the same position, receiving your results today, I just want to say that you did such a great job, no matter what grades you got! The examiners have no idea how much strain you have put up with just to get a letter, and to survive A levels in itself is a achievement. For me, it’s literally been a two year bundle of complete and utter stress which is such a relief to finally be able to throw out the window! And I know that a lot of you are probably feeling the same!

I wrote a piece of writing a few days ago about how no matter what way you go in life – whether you go a longer route than expected, or are finding it hard to keep your positivity – you will always get there in the end. And I think this message is vital particularly on a day like this – to remember that you’re all such intelligent beings no matter what grades you’ve achieved and you will get where you want to be! I’m sure of it!

Exams are over!!

I had my last exam today and the amount of relief I now feel that it is all over is insane! I have been revising so much lately that I feel like I’ve forgotten how to do anything else (if that even makes any sense) and so I’m really looking forward to getting back into blogging more as well as writing.

I think it’s really hard to tell with exams whether they have gone well – especially with the more subjective responses such as English – however I think most of my exams were pretty good (bar maths but hey that was a long shot). I don’t know about any of you but when I write my responses for English and RE I get that feeling where I just don’t want it to be a generic essay. These examiners sit through hours and hours of marking and I kind of want them to read the essay and think “wow this is a really great idea I’ve never thought of this before!” or “I love how they’ve expressed this!” rather than it just being a chore of them reading through just another one of those essays. It’s like wanting to make a mark on others without really making a mark because they’re the ones giving literal marks to you (okay this is sounding insane). But anyway, I pretty much just hope my answers are okay and if they’re awful then hopefully the examiners can get a laugh out of it XD

It feels like ages since I’ve written a post like this where I just ramble about random stuff that’s been stuck up in my brain for a while. And it feels good. So I’ll make a note to do more of this over summer.

I hope that everyone who is in a similar position also survived the exam period and that all your exams went great too! Here’s to summer – finally!

School is over!

So school is over and I’m now officially a free being!! It’s kind of weird to be honest – I don’t think it has quite sunk in yet – but it’s exciting to know that I’ll be moving onto new things (even if most of it is terrifying). I’ve been at the same school for 7 years so it’s been a massive part of my life but I guess at some point you have to cut ties and let things loose. I’ll be starting university in September where I will be studying English Lit but also Creative Writing which I’ve been waiting to study for a ridiculous amount of years and now the time has finally come! So lots will be happening and I’m excited for the summer ahead where I can hopefully make the most of blogging once my exams are over. And as of yet, I will be continuing my blog into university life if everything goes to plan 🙂

What are your plans over summer and into the next year? I wish you all lots of luck for your exams or if you have already taken them, that they’ve gone well 🙂