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Working from Home

By Karly Casanave

After an unusual semester, full of frustrations and growth opportunities, it is time for many of us to return home. For some, this is a welcome change of pace; for others, the thought of returning home to finish up the semester is a daunting task. Whatever you’re feeling, it’s valid. We have compiled a list of tips and resources to help you finish the semester out strong. You can do this!
Desk sitting in front of a window with a laptop and vase of flowers.
Image from: Michigan Health

Designate a work area

Finishing up assignments and doing exams from home certainly poses unique challenges. There are many adjustments to be made surrounding sharing a space with multiple people, new distractions (hustle and bustle of holiday preparations, pets, sibling arguments), access to necessary resources, among many other things. Needless to say, it can be challenging to find a place free from distractions to be productive.

Find or create a space

Try to find an area in your house or room that you can dedicate to doing work. Consider areas of your home that are quieter, more isolated, or where you can eliminate interruptions. Try keep your space organized and protect it from potential distractions. For instance, if your phone is a distraction, consider putting it in a separate area and retrieve it during breaks.

Avoid working in bed

Your bed should be designated as a sacred space, so try to avoid using it while doing schoolwork. This simple habit can help you: 1) establish and maintain boundaries between school and home; 2) facilitate productivity by preventing you from falling asleep; 3) protect your sleep by keeping you from associating the area where you rest with the stress of school and all of the things left on your task list.

Find a public area

Identify local areas where you can access what you need. Local coffee shops, public libraries, and other public spaces can potentially offer a quiet space and access to Wi-Fi. This map can help you locate areas near you that provide public Wi-Fi. Be sure to adhere to COVID-19 safety guidelines, including wearing a mask and social distancing, when accessing public facilities.
Clock on a blue wall with a calendar to the right. Sticky notes cover the calendar.
Image from: EdSurge

Stick to a schedule

For many of us, it is a struggle to manage our time when we don’t have structured commitments (such as classes) in place to help us organize our day. This seemingly unlimited amount of time can cause us to procrastinate, or put off doing the tasks we have left to do, leaving us with a pile of work to do in a short amount of time. Talk about stressful! Creating a schedule for yourself can help provide structure to the day so you can stay on top of your to-do list.

Start with a morning routine

Whether it's having a cup of coffee or tea, journaling, making a to-do list, or starting the day with exercise, incorporating a morning routine can put you in the mindset to have a productive day.

Meditation resources


Workout resources

Don't neglect sleep

Sleep is usually the first thing to go when on break. Try to maintain your sleep by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. This can help ensure you’re well rested and have both the energy and mental capacity to tackle your final assignments.

Set a time frame to get work done

Working from home can blur the lines between time to work and time to play. Schedule a chunk of time to complete tasks and a time to wrap up each day. This can help buffer against the thought that you should keep working all day long AND help with time management. It also ensures that you are setting aside time for self-care and other responsibilities. Note: Don’t forget to schedule small breaks during your “work day” to stay focused and motivated!
Self care ideas like baking something, coloring, listening to your favorite song, and exercise.

Source: Western Oregon University

Take time for yourself

Maintain healthy habits

Don’t underestimate the importance of maintaining the basic elements of your routine, such as exercise, a healthy diet, sleep, hygiene (e.g., showering, brushing your teeth), taking any prescribed medication, and getting dressed for the day. Sure, it can be great to stay in your pj’s all day (and that IS one of the perks of working from home), so try to balance your comfy days with dressing for success, which can help you mentally prepare for the day ahead.

Get outside/get active

Take a walk, go to the park, or simply sit out in the sunshine on nice days! This can be a refreshing change of pace from sitting in front of a screen all day. Research also suggests that getting physical activity can help improve cognitive function, sleep, and quality of life, as well as decrease anxiety and depression (source: CDC).

Stay connected

Being back at home can make many of us feel isolated or unsupported. If you’re feeling this way about class, don’t hesitate to reach out to your professors for help or clarification. Don’t forget to check the course syllabus to see if your professor offers virtual office hours. You can also make an appointment with a success coach to talk about items such as organization, time management, study skills, and more. If you’re feeling disconnected from friends, try to stay in touch through phone call, video chat, text, email, snail mail, etc. You can also remain connected to friends and campus through virtual events. Maintaining connection, even virtually or at a distance, is a valuable and necessary component of maintaining mental health. And of course, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Carruth Center for mental health support. Call us 24/7 at 304-293-4431. WVU also offers the Crisis Text Line, which is a free resource available 24/7. Text WVU to 741741 and get connected to a trained Crisis Counselor.

About the author

Karly Casanave
Karly is a third-year student in the Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology doctoral program and Counseling master's program. She is a graduate assistant on the CDC HOP grant and a supervised trainee at the Carruth Center. Karly received her master's degree in Psychological Science from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. 

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