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How I am staying focused and motivated whilst working from home

As we get into the thick of semester 1, I thought I would share a few tips on how I am trying to boost my focus and motivation whilst working at home.

Changing the scenery – due to travel restrictions it can be hard to get to the library and spending most of our days indoors working and living at home (especially due to the rainy Manchester weather!) can sometimes get boring. I try to mix things up when I can feel myself getting lethargic by changing which room I’m working in e.g. sitting in the kitchen which has more natural light really improves my mood.

Making Lists – it’s easy for your normal routine and day-to-day activities (aka Netflix) to take over when you are spending all day at home, so I find it really useful to plan out what I want to achieve each day or week using to-do lists. I try to keep it engaging and aesthetically pleasing using highlighters, post-its and other stationary I’ve probably spent wayyy too much money on, as I find it really satisfying to tick each activity off and move onto the next.

Coffee in the foreground with a document on a laptop in the background

I try to be realistic but also remember it is okay to not get everything done in a day that I originally planned as sometimes I’m not in the mood to study a particular module or another task took longer than I expected.

Pomodoro Technique – this is a popular time management method that I have found so useful where I completely focus on a task for 25 minutes, making sure I put my phone to one side to avoid any distractions and then once the time is up I have a short 5-10 minute break. I then repeat this process 4 times but on the last set take a longer break, usually around 30 minutes. Working in short bursts has helped improve my attention span as I’m working in manageable cycles and stopped me from procrastinating, whilst the little breaks help balance out the work so I don’t burn out.

Taking breaks – sometimes I begin feeling guilty if I don’t feel like I’m doing enough work, but just because we’re studying online it doesn’t mean we should spend all of our time doing it. I like to take time to make myself teas or iced coffees for a caffeine fix and have a scroll through my phone without feeling like I’m neglecting my university work.

Exercising has really me not only to help shift the lockdown weight I’ve gained, but to help break up and bring structure to my days so I may push myself a little harder to finish a task if I know I need to leave for my gym class at 6pm.

Results from a fitness session on an app

My Learning Essentials – The University of Manchester Library programme runs amazing workshops, online resources and even podcasts with tips for staying self-motivated and how best to manage your time.