Balancing working and studying from home during the coronavirus outbreak
We provide some tips for students who are currently working from home while studying towards becoming a CA.
In these challenging times we are all having to adapt to new ways of working, learning how to communicate with colleagues at a distance as well as keeping up with work demands. For our Student Members there is the additional pressure of studying toward the completion of their CA qualification.
The result is a long list of demands that compete for your time and affect your wellbeing.
So how can you successfully work and study from home as well as look after yourself?
Five home-working tips
Let’s start with five top tips for working from home:
1. Structure — when you get up in the morning, get dressed and try to stick to a morning routine. During the day, try to block out time to focus on specific tasks and projects versus time spent replying to emails and attending meetings.
2. Have a designated workspace — ideally where you can ‘leave’ at the end of the day, if this isn’t possible then make sure when finished working you pack away or tidy up work-related materials so they aren't occupying your attention when you are not working.
3. Communicate — stay in touch with your colleagues, ask questions and make sure you know what you should be working on and what is a priority for your team. Remember, it is better to ask more questions and be clear about what you should be doing. If you are looking for some guidance on your career and support from outside your company, why not think about getting a mentor, someone to challenge you to think about your career and support you with issues or concerns you might have.
4. Take breaks — get up from your desk. At home, we are missing out on the short coffee chats we have in the office, going out for lunch and even getting up for a walk over to a colleague’s desk. Make sure to take time to give yourself a break. If you are feeling stiff why not have a go at a quick chair-yoga session (you can find lots of videos on YouTube) or get up and make a coffee. It's good to do anything that gets you up and on your feet.
5. Make time to unwind. This will look different to different people but why not take advantage of your daily outdoors time, go for a walk or cycle and take in some fresh air. Or exercise at home, there are stacks of home workouts available online, and you can do anything from yoga to HIT. Alternatively, read a book, listen to a podcast, or catch up with friends (remotely). Whatever you need to do to relax.
Five tips for those studying whilst working
The above tips are easy to handle when you are just working and not studying. The next five tips will help you to incorporate studying into the mix.
1. Timetable – when you are trying to study and work, first and foremost you are going to need to be organised. Make yourself a timetable and be realistic about what you can accomplish. Don’t timetable yourself too much time studying if it isn’t realistic, or give yourself too much to do in a short space of time, as this could leave you feeling overwhelmed. It’s a good idea to identify any important dates for deadlines, etc, and try to plan according to what you need to have accomplished by then.
2. Stick to the plan – this sounds obvious, but once you have taken the time to plan out what you need to do, look after yourself and your mental wellbeing and stick to the plan. This doesn’t mean you won’t have to adjust sometimes due to other demands popping up, but when you know what needs to be done, just get it done.
3. Remove any distractions. This includes turning off from work and turning on to studying. When you have a session planned, being productive is important. Try to get rid of any possible distractions: put your phone away, switch off the TV, make sure you are not looking at work emails and find yourself a quiet spot where no one can disturb you. If you have set up a space for working, then try to change it up for studying.
4. Keep yourself motivated. Try to keep the overall goal in mind if you are struggling – why are you studying? What does this mean for your career? Also, make sure you stay in touch with other students, help each other out and talk through your concerns and issues. Potentially arrange study calls and keep reminding each other why you are studying (to qualify as a CA).
5. Look after yourself – this applies both physically and mentally. Start by not being too hard on yourself. If you need extra support, then communicate this to someone who can help talk you through your concerns. Make sure you are taking breaks, exercising (following the social-distancing guidelines) and taking time away from working and studying.
Where to get wellbeing support
Mental Health Foundation
The Mental Health Foundation has published guidance on looking after your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak.
Mind has a range of resources to help you look after your mental health and physical during lockdown.
SAMH has advice and resources for looking after your mental health in challenging times
Overall, it is important to remember that this is new for everyone and adapting to the changes we are facing is a challenge, so be kind to yourself.