Published: March 24, 2020

Working from home has become a temporary new normal for many graduate students. With this transition, it can be challenging to adapt to a new remote work environment. Here are some tips to help you through the adjustment process.

Person writing in notebookGet dressed and ready for the day

It may be tempting to work at home in pajamas or sweats. But continuing to get dressed and ready for a typical work day can help shift your mindset from being at home to being at work, even if you aren’t in your normal work environment. It will also help you maintain a professional appearance for any virtual meetings or get-togethers where you will be on camera.

Focus on your routines

Routines give us structure. They also provide comfort and a level of predictability to our lives. Recent changes have disrupted many of our routines, but that doesn’t mean we should let them go completely. 

Try to modify and stick to your normal routines as much as possible, or create out a new routine to fit your new schedule and environment. Whether it’s getting up at your normal time and making your bed every day or reading a book during the time you normally commute to campus, routines can help you manage additional stress or anxiety that can come with major life changes. 

Make a schedule

Like your routines, making a schedule for your day can help create structure and keep you motivated. This will look different for everyone—some of us may be working around others in our household who are also working from home. Other graduate students may be taking care of children who aren’t in school right now, or other family members.

Be sure to communicate with your colleagues and faculty about your plans, home obligations and availability. Depending on your situation, it might be helpful to work outside of normal hours where possible. As you make your schedule, try to set realistic expectations for what you can get accomplished.

It may feel like you have extra time right now, or that you want to prove you can be productive while working from home. But it’s important to take short, regular breaks throughout the day and be flexible if unexpected things come up or you need to make adjustments to your new schedule.

Stay connected

While social distancing is encouraged right now to minimize the spread of COVID-19, it’s more important than ever for our mental health to stay connected. If you’re used to interacting with colleagues on campus, make an effort to maintain your social interactions virtually. Schedule virtual coffee dates, lunches or working sessions with your colleagues. Check in through email, Microsoft Teams or other chat services.

With many of us feeling uncertain or frustrated as we adjust to remote work, it can help to have people to talk to. Join the Grad+ weekly seminars on Zoom as one way to continue socializing with other grad students. 

For frequently asked questions and ongoing campus updates related to COVID-19, visit