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All alone and non-productive in the home office? These 8 websites can help

Guide — Has your willpower been sapped by corona? Do not despair. The world wide web can give you everything from a real, human, study-buddy to the sounds of a reading room in your living room.

It’s now day 40,000 of the shutdown. You miss the guy munching carrots in the reading room and your colleague’s incessant drumming of her feet under the desk.

Oh yes, we did once discuss the do’s and don’ts of the reading room.

But how’s productivity going by the way? Have you found a good routine? Or could you get a top grade in the class called procrastination?

The internet is your friend in these times of lockdown woe. It can give you everything from a real, human, study-buddy to the sounds of a reading room in your living room.

Here are eight great programmes and websites to make your workday better.

Use Skype, Zoom, Facetime, Whatsapp, Hangouts … and use them right

We can’t avoid them, and you’re probably already using a few of them. But they can be used for other things than online classes, morning meetings with the boss, and chats with your parents back home.

Find yourself a virtual study group or a working community on the web. It can be the thing that gets you out of bed, into your clothes, and on to the computer – and keeps you going all day.

Make an agreement with your group that you meet a couple of times a day/week on the app that you prefer. Take turns to talk about your goals, what you have achieved since last time, and maybe collaborate on texts and course material.

Give yourself a workplace

Set up a permanent, good workspace. When you sit there, you sit well, have all the necessary tools within easy reach, and have enough space to avoid spilling coffee all over the computer keyboard.

Have a fixed schedule with a specific start and end to working hours, with eating breaks and when you should be in your bed sleeping, so things don’t all fall apart.

Put on your proper clothes instead of keeping on the washed-out sleeping T-shirt all day. For many people, this means that you can take yourself a little bit more seriously when your ready to get going. If you don’t do this, you might be able to juuuust stream another episode of your favorite series first.

Give yourself the time to talk to someone during the day and to see other people. Head down to the park and have your lunch, video chat with fellow students and colleagues.

Set yourself some clear goals for the day. How far should you have got in your reading. How many pages should you have written? Give yourself a pat on the back and offer yourself a cup of coffee while you are at it.

 

Let yourself be inspired by this (article in Danish) group of PhD students, who help each other out virtually every weekday from nine to four.

Find a virtual study-buddy with Focusmate

If you need to have a buddy next to you working, even though they are doing something completely different, you can use the Focusmate platform, which is designed for freelancers and people working from home so they can keep themselves going.

On Focusmate you are paired up with a partner for sessions of 50 minutes, then there is a 10 minute break, and then you have the option of taking another session. You say hello at the beginning, tell each other what you want to finish working with, and round off again at the end. In the intervening time, your partner is just on the video so you can see each other working.

Focusmate is free to use for three sessions of one hour a week. You can be on it for an unlimited time for five dollars a month.

Look at someone working with Study With Me

Do you feel as if you are all alone? Do you actually miss looking up to see your colleague picking their nose? On Youtube there are a series of videos, some short some long, where a person writes on a computer, reads, writes on a notepad, some of them with music, some without.

They have an incredible numbers of views on some of the videos, so they must be able to do something.

You can see the videos here:

Tomato your time with Tomato Timer

Remember that clock your parents used in the kitchen that ticked very loudly, ringing when the roast was baked in the oven, and was often shaped like an egg? Yes, the egg timer is also available on the Internet. Add to it a bit of good work philosophy and it is called the Pomodoro technique.

Tomato Timer (dot com) breaks up your tasks into time intervals so that they feel manageable, as this is the essence of the Pomodoro technique. In short: You set the timer for 25 minutes, then take a smaller five minute break. After four sessions of 25 minutes, you take a longer break of about 20 minutes.

You can try it out here.

Break up the sound of silence with some ambient background noise

If you need a bit of underlying noise so you feel like you are working in the canteen or at a café, just like you did a long time ago in the world before corona, then try Coffivity.

You can find it here.

Or you can have a playlist designed for concentration

You can also use this Spotify list of 90 minimalist, electronic and modern classical tracks.

It is here:

Use the internet to block the internet

If you now have the backbone of an earthworm, and your willpower has been sapped by corona, here’s a list of ten blocking apps so you can effectively shut down social media, the internet, and so on.

Get your hand held by student counselling

There is no shame in asking for help. Some people thrive while working from home, others collapse.

Fortunately, the student counselling service offers a virtual student community every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for three and a half hours. Three psychologists are ready here to help people get started with their day. They divide participants into groups, and in the groups the participants share what they want to achieve each day.

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»For some, it’s really a challenge to figure out where to start and where to end. And here we help them become more specific about what they need to do,« says psychologist Cecilie Frederiksen from the Student Counselling Office.

So they start the first 35-minute work session. Then they have a ten-minute break together, where the group, together with the psychologist, picks up on where they left off. There are a total of three sessions of 35 minutes. In the three times 35 minutes you sit, separately, working, just as if you were sitting in a reading room.

You can choose whether you want to join the session on video, on audio or just on the chat function, but Cecilie Frederiksen recommends the video because it gives you a feeling that you are sitting together.

Find more information (in Danish) here:

Translated by Mike Young

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