Working From Home Survival Guide

Caitlin Ramsay
April 22, 2020

Like many other people, I have struggled with the transition to studying and working from home. At first, instead of going about doing my uni work in a gradual schedule like a sane person, I found myself watching TikToks all day and letting my lectures and assignments all pile up until days before they were due. I think it’s safe to say most of us can’t even tell what day of the week it is or are searching to find even one ounce of motivation to put effort into an assignment. Scarily, exam season is less than two weeks away and my stack of unwatched lectures are looming over me begging to be watched. Today I thought I would share with you some useful apps as well as tips that I have used in the past to keep me productive and on track.

  1. Forest/Flora App

This app is a lifesaver! I first downloaded it last year at the recommendation of my friend and I was super skeptical that this one app could actually get me to focus and spend time doing my work. However, I actually found this app to be kind of addicting… 

Basically what you do is set an amount of time you want to spend on doing an assignment or studying and it will grow and plant a tree for your little virtual forest during that time. The catch is that if you go on your phone and use any app other than Forest it will kill the tree that you’re growing 😢

You can change the type of plant that you want to grow and so people build up elaborate forests that represent a timeline of your hard work. You can also add friends and grow trees together in a study group situation and if any person in the group gets distracted then everyone’s trees die. 

There are many other cool features such as actually using your time to grow REAL trees, which is why I think it’s really worth your $2.99 to download. But if you’re super broke and can’t afford Forest then you’re in luck! There is a Chrome extension version of Forest which is free however it doesn’t offer the same cool features as the paid version. There is also another free dupe app called Flora which is virtually the same as Forest but just as good. Once again you can plant trees alone or with friends but this time there’s an extra incentive to not wanting your tree to be killed. You can enter in payment details and an amount of money you’re willing to pay if you’re caught on your phone and your plant dies.

  1. Exercise and meditation

In this time when we’re cooped up inside with no break from our families, we need to place great importance on taking care of ourselves. Some easy ways to do this are to get a breath of fresh air by going for a walk outside to exercise or simply just soak up the sun. Doing this once a day, especially when your brain feels like it’s starting to melt from the endless hours of screen-staring, is an amazing study break and also brings some normality back into our lives. There are so many good mindfulness and meditation apps that help you to calm your mind and focus your energy in trying times.

My favourites are Headspace and Calm which offer meditation exercises as well as exercises to help you sleep if you’re struggling with that as well. I personally use them to calm my mind down before I go to bed but from time to time I will do one of their meditation sessions and find that when I go back to studying I am more focussed and motivated to do work.

  1. Daily Planner

One of my biggest issues with not being able to physically go to uni anymore is that I have lost all sense of time and cannot for the life of me remember when any of my classes are scheduled. Even just last week I totally forgot I had an online tutorial and missed it completely. I need something reminding me when I have things on and so there are a handful of free daily planner apps that can do just this! I personally like to use Google Calendar because you can actually sync most online university calendars into it and it will send you notifications when a scheduled event is about to start. This way if there are any updates to your university timetable it will dynamically change in your corresponding Google Calendar. You can get Google Calendar as an app or access it as a website in your web browser.

Another way to make sure you have your timetable blaring in your face all the time is to print it out and stick it onto the wall above your desk, making it almost impossible to miss a class.

Hopefully, you find some of these apps and tips that I’ve suggested to be a useful addition to your working from home lifestyle. Good luck with exams and assignments and above all else remember to take care of yourself and be kind to yourself! It’s a tough time for all of us and we’ll get through it together 😊

(WIESoc is not affiliated or sponsored with any of the links mentioned)