Four Habits for Sanity and Productivity when Teaching and Learning at Home

It is easy to lose track of time when teaching and learning at home. Before you know it, it is lunch time, and then time for getting outside and moving around and soon the sun is setting, and you have accomplished almost nothing!

Here are four quick suggestions for everyone — age 7 to 75. This is really quick, so please comment and make suggestions.

  1. Absolutely first task of the day — Create a combined schedule and to do list for yourself. Be as specific as possible.
    • If you are a student, you might write down that you will watch a video at 10:30 a.m. But more than that. You want to remember something from the video, so write a task that includes watching the video and taking notes. Write down three things that you need to remember. Then share those facts, ideas, or questions with whomever you are chatting or living with.
    • If you are a teacher, schedule the time and place where you will send out assignment to your students. Your to-do task will be to not just send the assignment, but to also write a paragraph about why that assignment is important, and be specific about what students are to do and when with that assignment.
    • Note — A college student who happens to be my granddaughter says that this works best for her if she prepares her next day plan before she wraps up for the day!
  2. Create a place for your work. This can be difficult at home, but your body and mind will help you settle in and do your work if you establish a “working” place. An ancient study hint encouraged students to select a hat to wear as a signal to your body and others that you are thinking/ working. Today, maybe a scarf or big sign or favorite sweater will work!
  3. Schedule breaks so that when someone does need to talk that they will know when they can do that. Maybe add that to your sign! Also, our bodies and eyes need to move away from the screen regularly. But beware, be firm with yourself about the length and frequency of the breaks. it is SO easy to get caught up in non-work activities.
    • Here is picture of what a message might look like. This is courtesy of my daughter with two (14, 12) learning from home. No need for anything fancy!
    • Person with hat and post-it on hat specifying a break at 2:00 p.m
  4. Before taking a break, take note of your next task will be. This helps reduce transition times! This resets your brain so you can dive right back in to your tasks. I have found this super-helpful when doing my writing.
    • Note: If you have a lot of time-bound meetings, such as conference calls, one of my daughters shared that she uses Siri to remind her five minutes before her scheduled call.

Note: Here is a picture of the low-tech habit I have used for years for my combined to-do list and schedule. Of course, I am not always able to stay on schedule, but the first 2-3 items on my list generally get done! I also really enjoy taking my pen and checking off items as I complete them.

Picture of ringed notebook 5"x8" for schedule and todos.
My 5″ x 8″ ringed notebook

Also, in the midst of all this focused teaching and learning, be sure to plan something fun or interesting that you normally can’t do to balance your day!

Other at-home challenges: Cats on computers — cat lounging on computer keyboard

As mentioned, comments, additions are welcome!

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