Ideas for working from home:

By David Dennis Jr. – find him on Twitter @DavidDTSS

Hey. I’ve been working from home for the better part of a decade now. There are a lot of people including at your work who are going to tell you how to be the most productive. But I want to talk about how not to burn out while working from home.

  1. Set your boundaries. Don’t start work until you usually start for work. Even if you wake up at 6, eat a breakfast, work out and have a cup of coffee. Then open your computer at 9 and start work.
  2. Close your computer for lunch. When I work from home, I either go get lunch (obviously not an option now) or I physically get up and go eat in my dining room. If my computer is open, it’s on YouTube while I eat.
  3. Try to think about how much work you usually do from the office. If you can come close to that you’re on track. People often feel like they are not doing enough work and often overwork from home to not look like they are slacking. But if you think about it you spend a lot of time at the office bulls***ing- talking to people, whatever. You are just gonna feel like you do it more since you are at home. That’s just your mind playing tricks on you.
  4. I try to move around in my office and change scenery. I start off mornings at my desk, afternoon on the couch. And move around. That’s just me, though.
  5. Do NOT work in your bed. You start associating that place with work and you will never sleep soundly in there again. Even now I have to keep my phone in other rooms to sleep.
  6. I close my computer when my workday is over. No matter what, I close it. Even if it’s for 10 minutes before I go back to doing non-work stuff. I physically close it. You’d be surprised how good it feels to get into physical routines with your work.
  7. Be home at night. By that I mean engage in some phone activity every night away from your computer. Cook dinner or play a board game or watch a movie. I used to literally carry my computer to the dinner table when I freelanced and it was damaging. Be present at night.
  8. Obviously this new scary time of not being able to leave the house AT ALL is uncharted territory for me included. But these are the work from home things that I’ve learned mostly the hard way to not fall apart.
  9. Most importantly: you know how to work. You know how to finish your goals. Your work will not fall off. Your productivity will be fine. But it can’t happen at the expense of your mental health.
  10. Good luck everyone. We got this.

Ideas for graduate students who can’t get to lab (and good advice for other researchers too!)

By Dr. Zoe Ayres – find her on Twitter @ZJAyres

  1. Work on your experimental section of your thesis. No matter what stage you’ll have a rough idea of what instrumentation you’ll use, so you can start building this up.
  2. Make some badass figures. Have a look at Adobe Illustrator or Inkscape (free to use) and make your figures beautiful. If you have the time, you might as well, and it’s something that often gets overlooked.
  3. Similarly to point 1, have a go at writing your introduction. Background reading is really important for this and it’ll strengthen your overall understanding of your studies.
  4. Learn. To. Code. I wish I’d done this ages ago. If you don’t have to manually fit all your data, your efficiency will go up when you do get back in the lab. There’s some great introductory guides out there for things like Python and MATLAB
  5. Lab books been a bit thin and not well used up until this point? Make sure to write down all the methods you’ve been doing up until this point.
  6. Create some test plans. What are you going to do stepwise as soon as you get back into the lab? Plan it out to be as efficient as possible when you get back.
  7. Had a whole host of data that didn’t “work”. Consider writing this up as an emergency thesis chapter.
  8. Write as much of a paper as possible. Got a figure or twos worth of data missing right now? No problem. Leave a space for now and write about what you expect you’ll see.
  9. Remember, no one is truly efficient 9-5 every day. We have coffee breaks, lunch, chats with colleagues. Apparently we are only truly efficient for about ~3 hours a day, so make sure to cut yourself some slack. Think about using time management such as the Pomodoro method.
  10. Arrange time to check in with colleagues every week. This is going to be an isolating time for many of us. I’ve seen some great online initiatives including #COVIDcafe for people to connect.