Earlier last month we released a Twitter thread listing various tips on how to keep sane during the COVID-19 pandemic lock-down! You can catch it again here in the form of a blog post.
Maintaining the work-life balance at the office from home
It’s easy to get trapped in the mentality of working more than usual even at home, because now you are literally at work all the time! However, setting time aside for picking up old hobbies previously pushed aside and working towards something can be scheduled for. That piano piece you thought was too difficult, that yoga pose you could not hold, or that video game that has been gathering dust are all great starting places.
Decide on fun activities throughout the week so you’ll have something exciting to look forward to. For instance, one day could be board game night. You can still enjoy most board games online with friends for free. Another day could be a Netflix party, if you enjoy watching films/series. Want to learn something new? Make it social! Being in a group of people where everyone is trying to learn something will help with pushing one another. For example, learning a new language with Duolingo allows you to compete with others and rewards your daily efforts.
Remember all those conferences you put off because of time/logistical constraints? Now is a great opportunity to virtually attend those. It can be a welcome change in your daily schedule & a good learning experience, whether you want to delve into your research field or whether you are looking after your mental health.
Whether you are into running, cycling or lifting weights, making the most of your exercise time is key! For some of us getting up in the morning for a run helps keep us motivated for the rest of the day.
Missing the lab?
Perhaps being in the lab was your natural environment and where you flourished. Well, you know what’s the closest thing to a home lab? The kitchen! You may find joy in cooking ‘experiments’ – they usually have a higher success rate AND you get to eat the results! We take a lot of inspiration from those who post affordable & appetising recipes accompanied by videos (so a tastier JoVE).
When the yield is low…
For some people, making a list of tasks or setting goals (e.g. writing for 1 hour) could increase the pressure to be productive. Instead, you could try making your goals vague for the day, which could work better. It’s preferable to find yourself with some spare time instead of getting completely discouraged by failing to meet your target and being mentally locked in guilt.
Besides, we have to recognise many people find it difficult to be as focused in a different environment outside of work. It is important to remember that there will be days when you won’t concentrate as much, or won’t be as productive as other times…and that’s okay. Honesty with yourself matters.
Lastly, if all else fails you could try dressing for the job! Lock-down measures have meant that you are in your house for longer periods of time than what you had used to. Who doesn’t want to be in their PJs for as long as possible? If you are finding you got the ‘pandemic blues’ a small thing such as dressing up in your work attire could boost productivity by signifying your switch to ‘work mode’ …maybe forgo the lab coat though!