How can I get less distracted while learning or working from home?

As we’ve passed a year of the pandemic and many people across the country are preparing to receive a vaccine, it’s an excellent time to remind yourself that if you’re reading this post, you’re fortunate enough to have survived a year of a pandemic!

That being said, many of us are still learning or working from home or another remote location, and we’re facing the unique challenges that come with these circumstances. Here are some tips that may be helpful to you when you’re trying to get work done!

  • Chunk tasks or create sub-tasks for larger pieces of work. Many assignments can seem overwhelming when you look at the task as a whole, but breaking it down into smaller, more manageable chunks makes a big difference.
  • Use the pomodoro method. Set a 20-30 minute timer for working. When the timer goes off, take a 5 minute break, and begin a new cycle. After several cycles, take a longer break.
  • Give yourself a daily reward for completing your tasks, such as TV time, video games, and time to play with a pet.
  • Spend some time outside as often as is safe and convenient for you, even if for just a few minutes a day.
  • Create a short routine for when you finish work for the day. This can be as simple as turning off the lights and closing the door, or clearing off a workspace.
  • When you’re in class, close all other apps that you’re using besides the essential apps you need for the class.
  • When you don’t need to use your phone and if you are not on-call for work, put it on airplane mode on the other side of the room or in another room, where you can’t see or hear it.
  • If you’re able to, use a separate designated space, or even area of a room, for class, homework, or work. If you can, spend your leisure time elsewhere.
  • Use free apps like LeechBlock or SelfControl to limit internet distractions. LeechBlock is a web-based site blocker that allows you many options for blocking sites, such as creating time limits to use certain websites or even scheduled time ranges. SelfControl is a Mac app that allows you to block sites for a set amount of time.
  • Delete social media apps off of your phone and tablet when you are not using them. Log out of social media sites on your computer and turn off auto-save for your login information, so you have to manually log in every time. Sometimes even those additional few seconds of typing in or remembering your login information can force you to ask yourself what you’re doing on the platform in the first place. Remember not to be hard on yourself about this! Social media apps and their creators make a living from keeping you online as long as possible.
  • Schedule in time to deliberately be away from your devices, such as first thing in the morning or last thing at night.
  • Stop comparing your performance now to your performance before the pandemic. You’re not simply learning or working from home — you’re at home, trying to survive a pandemic and learn or work at the same time. Contextualizing the external stress you’re under can relieve some of the obligation to be endlessly productive. Remember that we’re not supposed to be handling this kind of long-term stress, mentally or physically. You’re not a machine and it is unfair to treat yourself as such!
By Robin Chakrabarti
Robin Chakrabarti Administrative Coordinator, Operations Robin Chakrabarti