The ongoing pandemic and the consequent necessity of remote working have invasively brought technology into our lives – much more than we were used to. If an year ago the use of virtual platforms could be a choice, now we literally rely on our devices to live our everyday life: for work, for study, for social interaction. Although we can all take some benefits from this change (first of all a ‘greener’ way of working, due to the diminution of CO2 emissions for transports), for a few of us this technological twist represents a challenge.
I have always been that ‘paper and pen’ kind of person, and my most recent technological ‘upgrade’ has been downloading Twitter. I have never handled a tablet nor have I idea of how to use one of those cool smart-watches, and – in all honesty – I haven’t even tried. Until a year ago, a phone to share memes and a computer to write my research were more than enough. Now, with Zoom, Teams, Meets, and all kinds of Drives mushrooming everywhere, I realized how neglecting I have been of my devices. My tired computer cannot stand the proliferation of apps I am downloading, same as my old mobile phone (who has been recently replaced, God bless it).
Hence the first lesson I have learned is:
Invest on your device…
… once and for good. Ask for advice to a friend, look for reviews, watch videos before your purchase – study the best value for money. Most universities are providing PG Financial Hardship Grants due to Covid-19, check on yours’ website – these funds also exist to facilitate remote working. One well functioning device, which allows both to work and to network, will make your life easier.
And here’s another issue, clumsy people like me. Too many devices, too many virtual appointments, too much virtual everything make you lose your focus?
Simplify and economize…
… space and time, mostly. One only word for me: Google. Google Calendar, Google Drive, Google Forms – all synchronized to my laptop and mobile phone. In particular, I have grown more and more affectionate to Calendar (also mentioned by our Publicity Editor in his last post Technology to help you on your PhD journey), which helps me to control different types of schedule, and to handle all kinds of memos, from the academic to the personal ones. It may seem the most obvious thing in the world, but relying on one only support really simplified my days and helped me being more productive. Also, if you are clumsy like me with technology, having to deal with only one or two platforms really makes a difference.
Go out of your comfort zone
Technology will be the protagonist of our lives and careers in the foreseeable future, let’s deal with it. So, step by step, let’s try to investigate what works for us – in terms of apps, devices, accessories (give a look at Every App You Need for Your PhD). It may be challenging, or seem useless, but the truth is technology is really helping us to live the closest to normal we can in these difficult times – let’s ride the wave and take its benefits!
Giovanna Pasquariello is Chair of “Pubs and Publications: the PhD experience”. She’s a second year at the University of Edinburgh, studying something old, very old: the vocabulary of Greek inscriptions on the Celts. Apart from this, she swears she is a fun person.