OPINION: Why I felt more productive working/learning remotely

Cambrea Schrank 

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     5:30 a.m. Wake up. 

     6:45 a.m. Leave apartment for student teaching. 

     7:10 a.m. Arrive at school. 

     11:45 a.m. Leave school and go to UCCS for classes/work. 

     6 p.m. Return home.  

     This is my schedule on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. It is a hefty one. On Wednesdays, I am at my school full-time, and on Fridays, I work all day. By the end of the week, I am physically and mentally exhausted.  

     While I prefer being in person, a part of me misses working from home. The pandemic changed me in a way I never thought possible. I am a type-A person, and I hate to admit it, but I am not reacclimatized to routine.  

     Before the pandemic, I got up early, did my makeup and my hair, parked my car in an outside lot on campus and walked or took the shuttle to class. I spent the whole day on campus, using the Scribe office between classes to catch up on homework or writing articles. At the end of the day, I would go home, make dinner with my husband and then spend the rest of the evening blissfully reading for my classes.  

     Since the beginning of the pandemic, I have not had a routine. It has been this weird, loose work/life funk. Though this funk was not sustainable, in some ways, the lack of routine made me a more productive person. Let me explain.  

     I would stay up late watching Netflix. I would only wake up 20 minutes before my remote synchronous classes. I would eat whenever and whatever I wanted. I could take my dog on a walk or take a shower or go to the store between classes. I never left my apartment unless I absolutely had to.  

     And I got so much done. My productivity levels were probably at an all-time high. I could easily switch from my classes to remote work to homework. 

     Working from home led to fewer interruptions in my work/classes; responsibilities flowed into one another. I could focus on more things at one time. I had even set up my own ergonomic office space to do it all in. 

     At home, I made more time for physical activity, had less exposure to illness and more of a flexible schedule. I felt like I was existing on my own time and terms. 

     I am slowly trying to adjust to the new demands of my life. I spend almost 10 hours a day away from home. In-person classes and in-person student teaching requires me to be more presentable. I had to trade bedhead and pajamas for hair gel and slacks.   

     The commute stress feels new to me, too. According to flexjobs, the average one-way commuting time in the U.S. is 27.1 minutes — that’s nearly an hour each day spent getting to and from work.  

     It has also been a minute since I made dinner on a weeknight. I am just too tired, so to-go has become my go-to.  

     It feels like someone is furiously finger snapping behind me, “Let’s go, go, go!” throughout the day. I have to keep up, manage this, go here, don’t forget that, get gas…  

     When I am lying in bed at night and I finally catch my breath, I wonder where the day went. So much of it had been consumed by work me and school me and teacher me. Very little is actually left for the real me.  

     I miss my dog and my husband. I miss my cozy apartment. And I miss feeling like I am in control instead of at the whim of time and place.  

     I know that this adjustment period is temporary. I will find my groove again, but I do recognize that I have learned something from this whole experience: There is value in slowing down to get ahead.  

Stock photo courtesy of Christin Hume / Unsplash.com