How to make working from home work for you

Five tips for working students to navigate employment through COVID-19

How to make working from home work for you

The COVID-19 outbreak has single-handedly changed the way the world works. Seemingly overnight, working from home became the new normal — presenting a never-before-seen set of circumstances and challenges for working students. If being employed at home has proven to be a bit more distracting than planned, here are some tactics that can help increase productivity.

Get tech-savvy

Companies are using a variety of platforms to conduct meetings and communicate with their staff while working from home. Familiarizing yourself with the platform being used by the organization you are working for not only makes a good impression but also makes it easier for you to engage in meetings and discussions with your managers and coworkers.

Online etiquette is also important — use professional language while using chat rooms, learn how to log into the company platform well before the meeting starts, and be sure your video and audio faculties are working. 

Find your rhythm

You can establish a daily routine despite the changing circumstances. No commute may make it tempting to roll out of bed 10 minutes before you’re supposed to clock in, but giving yourself time to get ready in the morning can help you structure and plan your day.

Try to wake up and go to sleep at the same time every day, schedule regular meals, and take all your breaks in their entirety. If possible, step away from your screen while you eat, and go outside for your breaks to make your day more manageable and to avoid feeling overwhelmed. 

Minimize distractions

It may be tempting to multitask while working from home, but trying to do too many things at once may leave you feeling unproductive and burned out. I like to set time limits on my social media apps and leave my phone in another room to avoid getting too distracted while on the clock.

You can also use the “Bedtime” section of your phone’s alarm clock to mute notifications a few minutes before bedtime. The less distracted you are, the more likely you are to focus on the task at hand and complete your work effectively in a timely manner.

Make space

Try to find an area of your living space that is comfortable but also ergonomic to be your designated ‘work-from-home’ area. Also, keep your background in mind — it will be shown on your video calls! Having a workspace separated from spaces for relaxation and leisure is not only helpful in terms of establishing a routine but can also help separate the parts of your day that are for work and rest.  

Get moving!

Physical exercise can do wonders for your health and productivity, especially when you’ve been cooped up in the house all day. Any form of physical activity is beneficial, and it doesn’t need to be intense to be effective. A short walk around the block is great for your mind and body.

Personally, I love watching yoga tutorials online because it is a great way to de-stress and stay active within the confined spaces of my home.

Be kind to yourself

These are extraordinary circumstances, and there is no perfect way to handle working from home. It is alright to be unproductive, to sleep in, and to feel upset about the current global situation. Forgive yourself for the technical mishaps and miscommunications you may experience, and remember that you are not alone as we adapt to our new normal. 

Educate yourself: essential shows, movies on anti-Black racism, police brutality

Netflix content that highlights how white supremacy is ingrained in our society

Educate yourself: essential shows, movies on anti-Black racism, police brutality

Content warning: this article contains mentions of suicide.

Anti-Black racism and disenfranchisement are real, and it is vital for those who benefit from them to meaningfully engage with their implications. One way to do this is by watching content that highlights how white supremacy is overtly and covertly ingrained in our society.

Below you’ll find a list of the five best shows and movies that you can stream Netflix to expand your understanding of these issues. 

When They See Us (2019)

I watched When They See Us upon its release last summer and have been haunted by it ever since. Ava DuVernay’s gut-wrenching drama is based on the 1989 Central Park jogger case, in which five Black and Latino boys between the ages of 14 and 16 — who came to be known as the ‘The Central Park Five,’ and now, ‘The Exonerated Five’ — were falsely accused and wrongfully convicted of the sexual assault of a white woman jogger. 

The series is not an easy watch — it is raw and left me sick to my stomach. By placing the boys’ individual experiences at the centre of the narrative, DuVernay paints a heartbreaking and painfully honest picture of racial injustice in America. 

Time: The Kalief Browder Story (2017)

This biographical docuseries produced by Jay-Z explores the many ways in which the criminal justice system failed Kalief Browder, a 16-year-old who was arrested in the Bronx for allegedly stealing a backpack, and subsequently charged with robbery, grand larceny, and assault. He spent over three years at the Rikers Island prison, two of which were in solitary confinement, innocent and waiting for a trial that never came. 

Time: The Kalief Browder Story is an upsetting eye-opener to the judicial system’s severe and disproportionate punishment of Black people, the jarring unfairness of the cash bail system, and the deep-seated culture of violence and intimidation that prison guards uphold. Browder’s story is devastating from the start: you know — as you watch him walk the city as a free man after his ordeal — that despite his warm smile and demure presence, he will ultimately die by suicide at 22 years old. 

13th (2016)

The second show on this list by Ava DuVernay, 13th is a thought-provoking documentary that analyzes the criminalization of Black people and the booming prison industry in the United States. It is a must-watch to understand how the country has transformed into a carceral state post-Jim Crow by taking advantage of a loophole in the thirteenth amendment. Ripe with information, the Academy Award-nominated film is both exhausting and whip-smart.

The Innocence Files (2020)

The Innocence Files takes an emotional look at eight cases of wrongful conviction that the Innocence Project — a nonprofit committed to helping people overturn their wrongful convictions — overturned. While not all of the personal stories chronicled by the true-crime docuseries are about Black experiences, they highlight how race often plays a role in America’s unreliable justice system.

Compelling on every level, the show has no need to resort to entertainment tactics in order to keep you interested. It is shocking in and of itself — witnessing how the systemic flaws of a racist judicial system condemn innocent people will outrage you, and change the way you view the entire system.

The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson (2017) 

Marsha P. Johnson’s legacy is particularly relevant during Pride month and the recent wave of protests demanding justice and freedom for Black lives across the globe. The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson re-examines the circumstances of the death of the Black transgender activist and icon, who was one of the first instigators of the Stonewall Riots.

A sobering but necessary watch, the documentary gives a bleak depiction of police apathy in North America — an issue that still resonates today.

Educate yourself: essential music on anti-Black racism, police brutality

Albums, songs by Black artists that highlight social injustices

Educate yourself: essential music on anti-Black racism, police brutality

It is incredibly important to take the time to listen to Black voices on anti-Black racism and police brutality through literature, movies, and music. Personally speaking, music has opened my eyes to many levels of injustice in society. Below, you will find a compilation of songs and albums that can spark conversation, research, and thought about the current social upheavals. 

ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$ by Joey Bada$$

This is an all-around political album about the socioeconomic and political barriers that Black people battle. Joey Bada$$ touches on discrimination by news media and politicians, the history of slavery and segregation, and how that discrimination and history present innumerable structural barriers to Black communities today. 

There’s Alot Going On by Vic Mensa

“16 Shots”

This song is a direct response to the 2014 murder of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by a Chicago police officer who shot him 16 times. Mensa also touches on the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement as a whole and calls out the people in power who derailed the investigation. Systemic racism and the failure to hold law enforcement accountable are consistent themes.

“Shades of Blue”

The main question of the song is whether the Flint water crisis would’ve been solved if it had happened to white Americans rather than to Black Americans. It also touches on the role that the media plays in the public portrayal of protests. 

NASIR by Nas

“Cops Shot the Kid (feat. Kanye West)”

Nas not only talks about the discrepancies in sentencing Black and white people but also how normalized police brutality is, resulting in a lack of trust between Black communities and law enforcement. 

King Push – Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude by Pusha T

“Sunshine (feat. Jill Scott)”

The clever wordplays in this song talk about the integral part news outlets play in information dissemination and the media’s presentation of one-sided narratives. Pusha T also speaks on the lack of justice when it comes to prosecuting police officers and the death of Freddie Gray in 2015.

PSYCHODRAMA by Dave

“Black”

This song focuses on the erasure of Black history and its subsequent and inaccurate characterization as “barbaric.” Dave also speaks about ‘culture vultures’ who appropriate Black culture yet stay silent when it comes to Black suffering. 

Yeezus by Kanye West

“New Slaves”

This song is heavily focused on corporate racism and its effects on Black people. The first focus is on how corporate America introduced a luxurious lifestyle for Black Americans to chase after, resulting in destructive distraction. The second focus is on the prison system as a form of modern slavery. 

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West

“Gorgeous”

The standout sentiment in the song is Kanye’s reference to “inner-city tantrums / Based off the way we was branded.” This touches on the idea that gang activity is directly caused by society’s labelling and treatment of Black people. A large focus in the song is on how Black people have to behave a certain way to be taken seriously and to not be categorized as “ghetto” or “ratchet.” 

To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar

This album is the source of the de facto anthem to the BLM movement in 2015, “Alright.” However, the other tracks such as “i” and “The Blacker The Berry” are also important tunes about anti-Black racism.