As I am sure you are all aware there is a global pandemic going on at the moment! (And if you aren’t, what rock have you been hiding under and can I join you?)
For many PhD students, things are a bit uncertain at the moment. Some of our research has been put on hold, others will have to do their viva virtually, and a lot of us are worried about funding extensions. But to add on top of that, we are working from home, which carries its own stresses and difficulties.
So the Pubs and Publications committee has banded together to give you so pro tips on how to actually get some work done, when working from home!
Separate your home and work space – I think I have been pretty lucky in how the timing of this pandemic has panned out. In that, at least I finished decorating my home office-come-dressing room (which I will show off here because I love it!). Just having a space that you regularly work in at home, even if it is just a particular chair or spot on the sofa helps! If you have a designated workspace, it means you can then leave that space for breaks in the scenery and inevitably your mind.
Days off – Also, please take sick days and annual leave! Lots of us would have had a couple of days off during these last couple of months, but it is easy to forget when you are working on your own at home. So plan a couple of days into your schedule that you can set up an email alert, letting your colleagues know that you won’t be checking your computer today. By telling others about your planned day off, it can help you resist the temptation to just cheekily respond to the odd email. But don’t! You deserve days off, especially now with the COVID crazies.
Organise and plan – My academic diary has become my best friend during lockdown. Each day and each week I give myself manageable goals, which is really helping me stay on track. I’m feeling some semblance of productivity ticking things off my lists – although no-one should feel the need to be productive right now. Being safe and healthy is far more important. I would also encourage everyone to be gentle on themselves. I’m starting work later and finishing work earlier; and I’m fine with that. Working from home is not a competition to see who can get the most done. Working from home is a necessity we have to adapt to and make the best of. Be kind to yourself, be kind to your loved ones, and just get done what you can.
Working from home has proven to be so much more challenging than I originally anticipated it would be. Some days, I find myself doing the laundry or reorganizing the pantry just to procrastinate from editing my chapter. Other days, I’m in the zone, writing and editing, and then I remember the book I just need one quote from is locked away in my office on campus, which seemingly throws me completely off course. While the transition to a virtually centered workday has been oddly exhausting, though, I have found comfort in a few practices, which have really worked to keep me more focused and more at ease.
- Starting the day early with some personal time – In the beginning of lockdown, the temptation to sleep in got the best of me a few times. I’ve come to find, though, that I really value my mornings. Whether I get up and work out, read a bit of fiction, or write in my journal, starting my day with some ‘me’ time and a good cup of coffee really helps to start my day on the right track.
- Creating a comfortable workspace – On my Amazon history, it might look like I’ve just gone on a nerdy spending spree, buying a memo board and an accordion file here, some bookends and a new stationery set there, and that’s definitely partly true. Revamping my home workspace has proven to be so rewarding, though! It’s so comforting to sit down at an organized desk, light a candle, switch on my little lamp, and take a moment to remind myself that I’m fortunate to have a safe, cozy space for just my research and me.
- Spending most afternoons outdoors – As a bit of a homebody, I could easily spend my free time on the sofa in my sweats watching Scrubs reruns just to make sure that I’ve still got most episodes memorized. Lately, though, I’ve found that using hikes with my fiancé as a bit of a bribe has really increased my productivity. By having something to look forward to that caps the workday has been so nice because it not only serves as a little reward for a hard day’s work, but it also helps to keep me more active, which is never a bad thing!