organized desk with computer

5 Ways to Stay Organized While Working Remote

How many of you either work from home full-time or are taking college classes online to complete your degree?

A few years ago, the answer was not too many, but that has changed significantly.


In a story by Forbes, roughly 4 percent of the workers employed in the United States worked completely remote prior to the pandemic, but the more telling statistic is that — despite more and more companies returning to the office — nearly a quarter of all professional positions nationwide are projected to be remote by the end of 2022.

At the same time, the National Center for Education Statistics has reported that the number of students opting to take college classes online rose 186 percent during the pandemic.

So remote work and going to school from the comfort of your own home are here to stay. Now, how do you adjust to this environment for the long haul?

Five Ways to Stay Organized Working or Learning Remote

1. Keep your office space separate

Even if you're attending school for your employer, keep your workspace separate. Don't keep your homework where you keep your work-related projects. Better yet, reserve your school work for your personal computer and your professional work for your employer's computer. It will help you keep everything organized and prevent any crossover.

One idea is to get out of the house altogether and work on your homework at a coffee shop or library to break up the workload. Having a change of scenery can give you more energy and motivate you to keep up with your weekly responsibilities. Your home and personal lives will have a new dynamic, and having that space away can help you manage your time better.

2. Set aside specific time dedicated to school

In many cases, shifts have some fluidity when working remotely. Most people don't have traditional working hours, you do not need to punch a time card or be at their workstation at 8 a.m. on the dot. There is more of a focus on making sure your work is complete or the total time at the end of the day is accrued, but don't get caught in the trap of starting homework on a break or during lunch.

At a minimum, you run the risk of crossover between the two environments. Worst case scenario, you work on personal projects on company time. Try and set time aside each night, if your work schedule is during the day. Then set time aside time each morning if you work at night, to focus on school work. If you can keep all of your workflows in a filing system on a separate computer or in a separate work environment, not only will it help you eliminate crossover, but it will also help you prepare mentally for the task at hand. If you're in your home office, you're in work mode. If you're in the living room or kitchen, it's time to learn.

3. Dress for success

One of the best parts of working at home is the freedom it brings. Gone are the days of fighting rush hour traffic in order to punch in on time and be in your cubicle. A few extra minutes each morning to sleep in, work out, or get the kids off to school doesn't hurt either. But it's important to have a work-life balance and set boundaries. Your employer may not check when you log on down to the minute every workday — although they might not tell you — it's important to have a routine set and a mental expectation that you're going to be prepared and ready to start work at the same time each day. Part of that routine and expectation is how you dress.

It's definitely a plus that office shoes and dress attire are a thing of the past. After all, Zoom video calls won't show if you're wearing shorts or fuzzy slippers. However, wearing somewhat formal attire, again, helps set the expectation that you're logging on for an important purpose even while working a remote job.

School is also essential, but dress codes are rarely mandatory in online education. Want to swap out a polo shirt for a t-shirt or hoody? Go for it. While the work of learning and taking your classes seriously is essential, what you’re wearing takes a backseat. Not only is it more comfortable, but it also helps you flip that switch from employee to the student.

4. Make lists

Keep lists of projects you’re working on or ones that need to be completed. There is a number of ways you can get organized. For example, utilizing a project management program that will help you keep track of important tasks. Download apps on your phone to make notes. Or keep track on a whiteboard, or go old school and write it down on a pad of paper. By seeing everything from a birds-eye view, you can stay on track to meet those impending deadlines. It also gives you a sense of accomplishment each time you can check one off the list.

5. Be disciplined in setting deadlines

Everything has a deadline. Does this project need to be done in the next fiscal quarter, or that presentation has to be given before final exams? Time-management problems or procrastinating have their upsides. Had a long day and don’t feel like reading that chapter in your textbook? It’s so nice to push that until tomorrow. Do you have time before that spreadsheet is due for the Board of Trustees meeting? It can wait until Monday.

The only problem is that they all come due eventually. Stay disciplined in the deadlines that are set for you. Turn each deadline into your own little contest, and try to beat it each time. Get an early start on them and set aside time regularly to work on each one.

Don’t forget, distractions will come. As sure as Jonah’s bottle of Orca Off repellent had reached its expiration date, your computer will freeze. You will lose wi-fi power. An urgent request from the boss will come down. Your child will get sick. Something will happen to draw away your attention.

If you’re on a deadline or scrambling to get things done, that could spell trouble. By staying on task, you will have bought the time to take on those distractions and put your best work forward when it is due.

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