University Writing Center Blog

Posted on April 7th, 2020 in Writing Strategies by University Writing Center

By: Logan K. Grannis

Our wonderful consultant, Logan, has written a very helpful post about how to be productive in our current situation. Using his past experience working remotely as a copywriter, he gives us tips for avoiding distractions and getting things done during a time when most of us have been obligated to work and study from home.

I stared expectantly at my computer as I willed myself to hear that familiar pat-pat-patting of fingers that would produce words on the screen. Those words would ultimately bring me one step closer to being finished with this article, yet I found myself dismayed when I heard nothing. I wrote nothing. That’s when I saw it creeping in my peripheral vision. I tried to ignore it, reminding myself that it was only 8:04 in the morning and that I’d been working for four minutes. The guitar appeared to move closer to me: menacing, looming, expectant. Before I knew it, I was yielding to its will and was warming up with several minor scale patterns.

This was the first of many imminent distractions that became ever-present in my time working at home. In my role as a copywriter, I had just been given the freedom to work remotely two days per week over a period of three years, since certain portions of my work did not require that I be present in the office. From this, I quickly discovered that it was absolutely and unequivocally imperative that I make and stick to a schedule. If I did not adhere to my newly imposed guidelines and schedule, I was doomed to fall prey to all of the other interesting things surrounding me. The books in the other room and my best friend, Netflix, were starting to sound quite appealing.

My new schedule involved setting goals and holding myself accountable to them. These self-imposed deadlines can be your best friend if you procrastinate like I do, since you effectively light a fire under your feet to force yourself to meet your deadline. This is particularly important now that we are all in this remote, isolated situation together. Working from home can be as productive as you want it to be, you just need to find the appropriate balance of time working, relaxing, and being in a space that is not overwhelmingly distracting to you. In general, I would be mindful of these suggestions to give yourself a more productive and enjoyable workspace:

  • Pick a room (if you have a choice of room) that you feel calm in. You want to be able to work for longer periods of time there.
  • Remove distracting items. If you have too many of your personal items around that would distract you, remove them if possible. Your goal is to stay on task as much as possible.
  • Take breaks! If you take frequent, short breaks throughout the day you will be less overwhelmed than if you tried to work straight through. This is true with writing and any kind of work or studying; you can get burned out if you don’t take a break to go outside or have a snack.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself. Ultimately, working in a space that is also your home creates a strange blend of your work and home life that was generally separate before. Don’t be too hard on yourself for needing time to adjust and trying multiple approaches to see what does and does not work for you.

As with anything, working and attending classes remotely is a process, and it is one that will have an adjustment period. The key is to not be discouraged and to try new things to see what works best for you!