4 Rules for Balancing Working and Learning From Home

By Drew McDowell, Brand Ambassador. Online Master of Arts in Sociology student.

This morning’s commute was the craziest I have had in a long time! I rolled out of bed, got ready for the day, and promptly plopped down in my office chair - exactly one-foot from my bed; crazy, right? If that isn’t enough to drive anyone mad, the commute to class was even worse! I turned off my work laptop and turned on my personal laptop – all without even switching seats! Forget about the hassle of typing in my username and waiting a second for my class to load; all that time I spend in transitions these days, I tell you!

I live in a world of moving from one thing to the next, especially in the age of staying home more often. While there is plenty to joke about and admire how much time I seem to save, there is quite a balancing act required. Many years ago when I was a community college student that dreaded online courses, I worked, went to school, and lived in different places. Each offered a chance to switch mindsets and reasons for being in that place and time. Today is different. Where brick and mortar would usually set the frame for mindset, a visual screen must try to set tones and placement.

It certainly has been a learning curve trying to do everything from home during this pandemic, and perhaps will be more challenging if I remain home on a permanent basis for work. But there are some things that I have learned along the way that I have found useful - rules that I created for myself, and of course, wiggle room when the day calls for it. These rules have helped me and I hope they will do the same for you:

  1. Your time is as good as a physical setting: Work is to be done during work hours – accepting calls for school or leisure should be kept to breaks and a minimum overall. For school, I separate out work and leisure – treating my time as study time or group time as my sole focus away from everything else.
  2. Family/Leisure time cannot be overridden by work or school: Part of setting healthy boundaries includes the boundary you set with a work/school/life balance. With school already in the home and now work needing this new demand, it is important to give home life the same respect as if there were still physical differences in where each was achieved.
  3. Communicate clearly with your household: Some tasks need a quieter time. Telling others that you are about to do something that takes the entirety of your attention helps you prepare for it. This creates boundaries for others to understand that you are entering a professional or academic mindset.
  4. Don’t stress: This is new to a lot of people. While many people are switching to an online format for class, many others are not used to working from home. Stressing about work and school without a break can cause that stress to follow you all day and more often. I promise you, no one ever has a day where some kind of background noise doesn’t come through their Zoom/Skype/Conference call – treating these occurrences with respect and humor will go a long way.

We're so excited to share Drew’s story! Drew is a part of our #learnASUlive team, an ASU Online brand ambassador program highlighting students who are earning their degrees while living their lives to the fullest. If you enjoyed this, be sure to check back for new articles from Drew so that you can follow along with his journey. To check out all his posts to date, visit Drew’s Instagram!

Want to hear from our other ambassadors, too? Use the #learnASUlive hashtag across your favorite social channels to browse through them!

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