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Working From Home: Tips and Tools

Blog article written by Uyen Cao



With the recent developments in NSW’s COVID-19 restrictions, many businesses have had to return to remote work arrangements. In fact, across Australia, 41% of participants in an ABS study worked from home in February 2021, compared to 24% in March 2020. University students are also facing the brunt of remote learning — and as much as 50% of them are dissatisfied with their experience. So what can you do, as a remote worker or student, to make your job or learning more productive and manageable? ABSA has a few tips and tools to get you there.


1. Maintain regular hours


While it can be tempting to finish writing that extra paragraph, do that extra equation, or email one more person, it’s also important to give yourself a clear schedule everyday. By setting clear boundaries around your work, study, and leisure time, you can maintain a healthy work-life balance that suits you, especially if you’re juggling multiple commitments.


This might mean you only answer work emails between 9am and 5pm on weekdays, or you dedicate weekend mornings to time away from study. Just because you’ve shaved off an hour’s work or university commute, this doesn’t mean you’re obligated to fill up that time. Ned Hallowell, author of Driven to Distraction at Work, says that “unless you are careful to maintain boundaries, you may start to feel you’re always at work and lose a place to come home to.


Tools:

  • Phone reminders: on most phone models, you can set yourself reminders at the beginning and end of a work day to log off.

  • Forest: a mobile app on which you plant “trees” by staying off your phone during work hours.

2. Take breaks and safely socialise


Remote work and study have also given rise to burnout, defined as “chronic workplace stress that hasn’t been successfully managed”. As mentioned, it can be easy to let your day slip past you when your bedside table has turned into a home learning or work station. This can lead to low productivity, heightened anxiety, and stress, so it’s vital for your mental health to find some leisure time. Though you might not be able to visit a friend in-person, you can rely on convenient mobile and desktop apps to digitally connect with your loved ones.


Even within your chosen work hours, you should take mini breaks and avoid working through lunch. A popular method of structuring break time into your commitments is the Pomodoro Technique, which requires you to time yourself for 25 minutes of working on a task, then a five-minute break. After four of these “pomodoros”, you can take longer half-hour breaks to fully rejuvenate for work or study.


Tools:

  • Zoom: a popular app that allows you to video call friends, classmates, and colleagues.

  • Tomato Timer: a website that measures Pomorodo sessions.


3. Seek out learning opportunities


With extra flexibility in your schedule, you can also branch out and upskill from the comfort of your own home. There are many digital (and free!) resources for you to learn about setting up Google Ads, organising your workflow, creating an elevator pitch, practising job interviews, and creating a basic website. You can even find online courses on fascinating hobbyistic topics such as archeology and learning a new language. You can impress a future recruiter with your new interdisciplinary knowledge and by showing initiative throughout all the challenges of remote work and learning.


Tools:

  • Udemy: a website on which you can find a range of low-cost courses on marketing, finance, entrepreneurship, photography, and more.

  • LinkedIn Learning: a platform within LinkedIn that allows you to watch short professional videos on leadership and business skills.

  • Duolingo: a fun app and website to learn a new language with checkpoints and leaderboards.

4. Organise and prioritise


The absence of regular in-person classes and work meetings can be disorienting — and it can be easy to forget about an upcoming assignment or project task. To combat this, organise your schedule at least a month in advance and as new tasks emerge. In addition to jotting down important progress and due dates, you should manage all your communication channels (whether that’s Slack, email, or text) and ensure your notifications are on during set times of the week. Once you have a clear idea of the tasks ahead of you, use a to-do list or task board to visualise your workload.


A kanban board is a great way to help you achieve all these things. It’s essentially a board laying out the following lists: “To Do”, “Doing”, and “Done”. By compartmentalising everything into these three distinct lists, you and your colleagues can easily see the progress of tasks and prioritise accordingly.


Tools:

  • Google Calendar: a website and app that allows you to schedule events, assessments, and other commitments for yourself or your team. It also allows you to set reminders and make to-do lists.

  • Trello: a simple website and app to organise your personal life, work, and study into Kanban-style tasks, lists, and boards.

  • Todoist: a website and app that centralises your email, tasks, and reminders onto one sleek platform.



We hope you find these four tips on how to manage remote work and study useful! If you’re keen to learn more about expanding your career opportunities, read our Beginner’s Guide to LinkedIn.


Don’t forget to stay connected with ABSA on social media to get the latest news and updates! We post business related content such as blogs, news and also hold events to provide students with more opportunities to network and grow.