Diary of a self-isolating research student

It might seem tricky to keep a positive attitude while the world is shutting down, but with the right mindset and sticking to a routine, this situation can actually be an opportunity for research students to get work done. PhD student Andreea Blaga gives us a breakdown of a typical day in isolation.

Image of a PhD student self-isolating

This blog was written in March 2020 and current Government guidelines around Covid-19 may differ.

Coming to terms with the fact that I cannot change the situation, but I can change my attitude, made me realise that working in isolation can be as fun and productive as working in the lab/office.

Moreover, many PhD students usually isolate themselves from time to time, before deadlines or when writing-up, so this lockdown can actually be beneficial for focusing on work without any distractions.

During the two weeks (and counting) of isolation, I managed to stick to a routine, keep a healthy mindset, be productive and keep in touch with friends/family.

6:00 AM: Wake up, have breakfast and make some coffee. Having a healthy breakfast and a cup of coffee gives me energy to kickstart my day with a positive mindset!

7:00 - 9:00 AM: Start working! I usually start my day reading and writing. I also try to create a plan for the rest of the day and set some deadlines.

9:00 AM – 9:30 AM: Have a break, eat some fruit and call a friend. The majority of people are now working from home, so I can take a little break and catch up with my colleagues/friends as I would in a normal day at the office.

9:30 - 11:00 AM: Implementation and data analysis. This goes according to the plan/deadlines.

11:00 AM – 1:00 PM: Online teaching. This has massively helped me during my PhD, as it’s allowed me to take a step back from my research and focus on something else. Also, having some human interaction can really boost my mood for the rest of the working day, even if it is only virtual.

1:00 – 1:30 PM: Lunch. HuffPost have a range of recipes you can make while working from home.

1:30 – 3:00 PM: Implementation and data analysis, once more.

3:00 – 4:00 PM: Read and review papers. 

4:00 – 5:00 PM: Check emails and teaching-related materials.

5:00 - 5:30 PM: Have a break, call a friend or family member to have some human interaction.

5:30 – 7:00 PM: Workout. For me is really important to stay active during these times, considering walking to work or going to the gym are no longer an option. I usually watch online videos for training at home at try to stick to it every day to keep a healthy routine. Here are some home workout tips.

7:00 PM: End of the day. I use this isolation time to focus on my hobbies, things I’ve always wanted to do but never had the time. I read books, watch documentaries, learn a new skill, cook or even getting more rest.

Even though self-isolation might seem tricky at first, with a positive and driven attitude it be can used in our benefit. Moreover, living in the digital era makes it easier to keep human interaction, be happy, productive and achieve goals during isolation.

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