Working from home (WFH) is something a lot of people have become used to over the last 18 months, and is a working style many have come to prefer.
At Melio, our online courses are available for you to do from your kitchen table, from your sofa, or even from your bed in your pyjamas (although we don’t advise that).
With the rise in online video platforms and instant communication, there has never been a better time to work from home and feel as connected and engaged as you would in an office or school. Adding this new WFH skill to your repertoire will help your future learning development, whether you’re revising for a test and need to focus at home, or your job is a remote position, learning effective WFH skills will always come in handy.
As summer has come to an end and the new academic year begins we welcome September, a new month with new possibilities and endless opportunities. To give you an idea of what working from home looks like and how it can be a positive to your learning experience, we've come up with our top tips for working from home efficiently to help you get the most out of your learning and enjoy it while you do!
Firstly, and arguably most importantly, make sure you work at a table or desk. Not only will this create a neat and organised workspace (instead of having notes sprawled across your bed), but you will feel more focused and be able to concentrate much better.
Working at a designated desk, or space on the kitchen table also subliminally teaches your brain that this is the “work area” so when you set up for the day you’re already in work mode!
Often, people also benefit from having some relaxing background music while working, with research indicating that classical music in particular can enhance memory retention. There are some great ‘study’ playlists available on Spotify, or listening to the radio can help fill the silence without being too distracting.
Alternatively, if you prefer to work in a quiet space, using some over-ear headphones can help with noise cancelling if you’re working in a busy space. or listening to nature sounds like rain can help in creating a calm working environment.
Secondly, and maybe this doesn’t need to be said but we’ll say it anyway: get dressed EVERY day.
Working in comfy sweats is fine (as long as you’re Zoom appropriate) but make sure you get up, get showered and into clean clothes before your day starts. This will not only help you get into “work mode” but also is great for a positive mind-set – which is key to a happy and successful day.
Even though this is perhaps an obvious one, this is one of the most important productivity tips for working from home. If you’re feeling particularly disconnected from your school or workplace, why not get dressed into work wear? This will help prompt your workplace muscle memory and make you feel more engaged with your projects. After being in lockdown for so long and living in pyjamas, this can be a nice way to physically feel like you’re back to work and not just working from your kitchen table.
But above all, the most important thing to remember is to be comfortable to ensure you create your best working environment. If that means hoodies and sweatpants, then carry on!
We cannot stress this tip enough: take regular breaks!
It can be hard when working from home to take breaks when you need to, as more often than not you’re by yourself so think it’s easier to just get on with the work.
However, taking regular breaks is essential to maximising your focus and creating the best working environment for you.
So, whether it’s making a cup of tea or sitting in the garden for a few minutes, there are small things you can do to break up the day that can make all the difference to your quality of work.
Also, taking a screen-time break, away from looking at your computer or phone screen is just as important as any other break. In fact, this is such an important tip for working from home as taking breaks will help reset your brain (and your eyes) and improve your work quality.
Think about it, if you were in the office or at school you’d be going to the kitchen or walking between classes, so you should definitely keep this up at home.
If you have a peer who’s also WFH why not sync up your breaks? Keep that water cooler chat going over FaceTime or make a cup of tea together over Zoom. If you’re at a particularly difficult part of your working day, maybe a project is harder than you thought it was going to be, then taking a break can help you come back to it with fresh eyes.
Going for a stroll, cuddling your dog or even just scrolling through Instagram for a few minutes can help refresh your working brain (although preferably take a break from the screens).
Another of our top working from home tips is to make sure you are drinking enough water. Drinking water is what will fuel you for the day and ensure you are optimised to study and work hard.
Just consider - if your car had no fuel in, it wouldn’t drive. So ensure you get your two litres a day! You don’t need to chug four glasses of water at once, obviously, but regular drinks during the day will massively benefit your mind-set and work.
To help with this, get a nice water bottle to have on your desk to encourage sipping during the day, or fill a jug with water to have on your desk. To add a bit of extra excitement to your water drinking (if that’s even possible) try adding some lemon or fruit – maybe on a Friday to treat yourself.
Not much of a water drinker? That’s okay. Stock up on your favourite herbal teas or fruit juices to get you through the day.
Also, if you know you’re someone who often struggles with remembering to keep drinking, try setting alarms on your phone to go off during the day to remind you to have a drink. A hydrated mind is a productive mind!
Just as important as getting enough water is making sure you partake in the most important meal of the day: breakfast.
Let’s not pretend we’re all up the night before baking oats and doing smoothie prep for breakfast; some toast or a couple of pieces of fruit is just as good.
Eating breakfast improves your concentration and engagement in activities throughout the day. So, when working from home, this is crucial to aid your focus and drive. Even chopping up some fruit to snack on during the morning helps you feel more energised and focused, you could also use this as an incentive - ‘finish this section then have an apple’. We bet you never thought you'd be using fruit as a treat!
With this in mind, it’s easier said than done to be super healthy all the time, no matter how many Pinterest boards you’ve made of ‘healthy food ideas’ - so any food in the morning is good. We recommend not eating last night's takeaway leftovers for breakfast, but as long as you eat something in the morning, you’re on the right track.
When you’re working from home it can be far too easy to spend the entire day inside, going straight from working on your computer to making dinner and watching TV.
Spending time outside in the fresh air boosts your energy and subsequently improves your quality of work. The change of scenery and exercise is also so important for your general wellbeing, so go for a walk during your lunch break or after you finish work and feel the difference!
Exercise is also crucial in refreshing your mind and keeping your physical wellbeing. Working from home can be a very stationary experience - aka sitting at a desk all day - so make sure you are still keeping up with your exercise routine. Whether that be going for walks, hitting the gym or just doing some stretches in your bedroom - it’s so important to keep your body active!
Doing these activities outside in your garden or at a park is even better, getting fresh air and endorphins from the exercise creates a perfect mindset for work, and helps you stay healthy while working from home.
Working from home can sometimes feel like a lonely experience, especially if you have no Zoom calls. So it’s really important to stay connected to your co-workers, family and friends where possible.
Organise weekly catch ups with an activity, such as a quiz, games night, or even watch a film together. You could have a nightly FaceTime catch up with your BFF or even reach out to your family members for a chat! Anything you can do to connect and speak to others will really help keep a positive mental state while studying at home.
Even in terms of your actual work, speaking to peers on your online course or at your school can help you feel more connected to the subject and can help better your learning experience.
If your peers are also working from home, try and link up throughout the day to see how their day is going, why not FaceTime during your lunch breaks? If they live locally, meet up for a lunchtime walk, or if you’re further away, do a virtual walk and show them around where you live from your phone. This will help you stay connected during the day and speak to people about something other than your work - it’s so important to maintain a proper work/life balance when WFH!
In addition to this, connecting with others can also really help you ‘switch off’ at the end of the day, distracting you from the work and stresses that you’ve faced earlier. Try and eat dinner with people (IRL or virtually) so you can decompress from the day and wind down in the evening. This is also a great activity to look forward to during your day and keep you feeling motivated to power through!
One of our most important top tips for working from home is definitely the benefits of scheduling.
It can be all too easy to keep working past your ‘end of day’ time, and while you might get some extra work done, it’s much more beneficial to stop at a reasonable time so you can rest and come back tomorrow with fresh eyes. Working all hours of the day drains your energy and diminishes your concentration.
Like a bell at school, have a strict schedule that you stick to throughout the day, if it helps, set alarms on your phone to remind you to take a break or stop for the evening - your work will benefit! Equally, if you’re prone to procrastination (and let’s face it, who isn’t?), sticking to your schedule will help you stay focused and on-task. In fact, one of our most effective productivity tips when working from home is to delete your distraction apps (goodbye TikTok) for the day so you aren’t tempted to click on them!
Sitting at a desk with a huge ‘to do’ list in front of you is always going to be overwhelming. Prioritising your most important work, the projects with the earliest deadlines or the ones you know will be difficult, can help in knowing where to start.
This is one of our favourite tips for working from home effectively; use some sticky notes or coloured pens to create a ‘priority list’. This puts you in charge of your learning and helps make it absolutely clear where you need to start; including what projects you’re going to complete and by when.
A daily ‘to do’ list, written at the start of the day taken from your priority list can make your day to day work feel more achievable and less like a mountain to climb! Also there’s no better feeling than ticking off a list, right?
Finally, but just as important as the working from home tips on our list: don’t be afraid to ask for help. Communication is key, and asking for help can be harder when working from home and it can sometimes feel like you’re alone - you’re not!
It’s really important that you understand what you’re doing and are comfortable with the tasks.
At the heart of our values lies your wellbeing. As such, our online learning programmes give you access to a tutor who you will have one-on-one sessions with at some point - whether it’s through an Academic Programme or Tutorials -, so don’t be afraid to ask for help from them, or reach out to a peer on your course.
On every course you study, you will also have a Teaching Assistant assigned to the group who is there to help and support you, so feel comfortable in asking for help - there’s no such thing as a stupid question!
While it’s harder when working from home to ask for help, as you can’t just pop into the office next door and ask your question in person, one of our most important tips for working from home efficiently is to maintain the channels of communication with your tutor, teacher, peers or supervisor. They are all there to help you through whatever you’re struggling with, and remember that everyone is in the same boat - what you’re struggling with is probably something your peers are also finding difficult. So don’t suffer in silence!
Working from home is a new experience for many and can feel overwhelming, but following our top tips for working from home is a sure way to make the transition more comfortable and enjoyable for you!
As working from home has become more popular with schools and businesses in the last couple of years, there’s never been a better time to begin and you will likely find that peers and family members have also taken to WFH, so reach out to them for advice and support.
It’s important to remember that a lot of people are in the same boat. And at Melio, our courses promote peer interaction so you can not only make friends with people who have the same interests as you, but also share your WFH experiences! They might have some great tips for maximising your focus or a fun way to engage in your projects that you hadn’t thought of yet. This is also a great way to make and maintain global friendships; our courses are worldwide and are renowned for helping form friendships across the world through bringing like minded students together.
Crucially, the most important part of working from home is that you’re happy and feel supported. As Melio is a totally online learning platform, our students have access to their tutor and a TA across all the courses who are there to support you and make you experience the best it can be.
With online learning as easy as it is, you’ll be able to interact and network with the peers on your course, making your experience easier and forming friendships. With the ability to get in touch with your tutor and TA, as well as having close communication with your peers, it’s easy to feel like you’re all in one room learning together, instead of dotted across the world.
The flexible learning hours our courses promote also helps create a more productive work/life balance, giving you time for your other activities and education. This flexibility in the learning format creates an ideal working environment for you to get the most out of the course, and as the courses run all year round, you’re able to be in charge of what times work best for you.