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Tips for Working from Home

Contributed by Jeremy Monigold, Information Technology Instructor

After doing this for a while now, I’ve made some observations that I thought I’d share.

1) As difficult as it may be, create a workspace for yourself. I finally took the time to carve out some dedicated space, and I’ve been much more productive. I was even able to make my space near a window; a nice plus when the weather is nice!

2) Distractions. Managing distractions and separating “work” from “home” has been difficult. I’ve found that I’m most productive before about 11:30 am (kids are getting antsy about that time) and after 8 pm. It’s a very non-conventional workday, but it works well for me. Carve out some optimal work time, and if it’s OK with your supervisor, work within the windows of time you feel most comfortable with. Personally, I also do not allow social media or YouTube in my “dedicated space” since they’re two of my biggest distractions!

3) Don’t “over-tech” things. I appreciate all the options that ATR and ITS have provided us with thus far. However, I have a number of students barely holding on at this point, and to throw more tech at them is going to make that learning curve even steeper. Remember the old fashion phone calls and emails along with all the other forms of delivery we’re being offered at this point.

4) Stay flexible. This has been tough for me. I’m a very deliberate planner; particularly my course curriculum. I have deadlines built into the curriculum that are set in stone for the whole semester before courses even begin. As much as I’d like to maintain that, student access to resources is going to be a struggle for many of them. Because of this, I’ve chosen to “open everything” for the remainder of my courses. I sent all students notices that everything is open and, while there are still deadlines, they’ve been relaxed a bit. You don’t want to completely remove deadlines; that would encourage procrastination (been there, done that!).

As my family and I become more acclimated to the “new normal” for Spring 2020, I realize that my struggles are similar to the struggles of others. I’ve often joked with people that, as an online instructor, I feel more like a “barrier removal specialist” than an instructor. That has never been as true as it is right now.

Of course, there’s the whole voice/video conferencing thing to keep in mind too… check the background behind you in the frame to make sure there are as few distractions as possible. Try to find a nice quiet place; if there isn’t one, mute your line. Oh, and wear pants… don’t forget the pants ;-)