Josie Tanner's Conscious Leadership and Team Management certificate courses were already conducted in a remote format. So when the University switched to remote study during COVID-19, she felt prepared. Now, she is offering tips that have helped her along the way.
How has it been transitioning to remote study and virtual classes?
The certificate courses are taught online, so I’ve been fortunate to have had experience with remote coursework and Zoom. Having some familiarity has helped with the larger transition of also having to work remotely. At first the thought of doing everything online and remote was a bit daunting, but it became easier over time. I learned tips and tricks and identified what worked best for me. I can appreciate the increased flexibility that working and taking courses remotely offers. Zoom is a great tool for getting interactions between instructors and other students. In addition to lecture, we’re able to participate in meaningful discussions as a class and in break out rooms for smaller group sessions. I also really like our discussion boards. We’re able to continue our conversations there and can learn more from our classmates’ experiences, all in a remote setting.
What does your workstation look like?
My workspace must-haves include:
- Any office supplies needed to make your job easier and help you work more efficiently. For me, that meant a second monitor, a mouse, and separate keyboard.
- Notebook and pen to jot down quick thoughts, take notes, or to draft a to-do list.
- Good lighting—whether it’s natural light from a window or artificial lighting from lamps, just be sure you can see properly.
- Design/decorations that are aesthetically pleasing to your own taste. For me, this means some bright colors, books, and knick-knacks. Being in a physical space you enjoy is important for mental focus as well. Plus it helps bring a little bit of joy into your daily tasks!
How do you spend your day?
Here’s my typical weekday routine:
- Wake up, caffeinate, and watch the news.
- Get moving with some cardio. I’ll typically run outside if I can or I’ll take a Peloton class. They have a lot of great options for all levels and lengths of time that don’t require any equipment.
- 10-minute daily clean up. It’s important for me to have an uncluttered physical space. If I have clutter laying around, it can be a distraction.
- Set my to-do lists for the day.
- Work. In addition to coursework for my Conscious Leadership and Team Management certificate, I work full time at Edelman, a global communications firm in our Advisory Services practice group on our Employee Experience team. We partner with organizations to create compelling experiences that shift employee mindsets and behaviors to drive long-term impact with a focus on culture, change, and communications.
- Strength training or yoga.
- Coursework or online lecture.
- Relax/hang out.
- Meditate and bed.
How do you relax when class is over?
My fiancé and I are really enjoying cooking dinner together, which we previously didn’t have the chance to do during the week. We check in on our friends/family in the evenings as well. It’s nice to just unwind and have fun, uplifting conversations with loved ones. We’ll typically watch a movie or show in the evenings to unwind. Recently we’ve been watching Veep and Westworld. I also enjoy reading and try to do so for 30 minutes a day. I’ll vary between personal interest articles, readings for coursework, or a book.
Do you have any tips you would like to share about doing course work remotely?
- Designate certain spaces or rooms for specific tasks. My desk space is for my job and coursework, our living room is for relaxing and working out, and the bedroom is for meditation and sleeping. I’ve found that this helps me focus and shift my mindset/attention. Once I sit down at my desk, my brain knows it’s time to focus and get work done, but once I walk into my living room, I’m able to leave the work behind and shift my mindset to relaxing for the evening. Having these physical boundaries has been really helpful for me.
- Get any office supplies you need to set yourself up for success. If you struggle with trying to take notes in Word while keeping Zoom pulled up, consider getting a second monitor if logistically possible. You can have one screen up for your notes and the other so you can have the Zoom screen pulled up. If you can turn on your video camera for Zoom lectures, I’d highly recommend doing so. It really does help make the lecture feel more like an experience rather than just sitting in front of your computer.
- Don’t be scared to participate. Zoom meetings can be intimidating at first because it’s a new platform. Sometimes people might speak over one another, or someone might jump in to share right as you were. Don’t let this deter you from participating and learning! Your opinion and point of view matters, and it could help a classmate learn something new as well.
- Create a schedule and stick to it. I’ve found that having a weekday routine has really helped the day from all blending together and the weekends still feel like a treat. Figure out what works for you and know your strengths and weaknesses. Block your calendar if that helps you prioritize time to complete certain tasks. If you’re more mentally active from 6 to 7 a.m., set aside that time to get your hardest tasks done.
- Draft two types of to-do lists: must-dos (timely, need to be completed before the end of the day, like attending a lecture or submitting an assignment) and nice to-dos (tasks that have a bit more flexibility in timing, like doing reading for a paper due next week). This is really helpful for prioritizing tasks and figuring out what to spend your time on.
- Practice self-care. We’re all going through a large change that requires us to change our behaviors and ways of working; things are bound to get stressful from time to time. If you need a break, take it! Listen to what you need. Know when to push yourself and when to take it easy.