The Chemist: Working from Home
Updated: Apr 28
Hey Everyone! I don't know about you all, but my days have officially started running together. I also have no real concept of time anymore. I do, however, know today is Thursday and this week we decided to talk about how we're managing to stay productive at home. Being a graduate student that isn't taking classes anymore, BUT is still a TA is an interesting place to try to navigate from home. Some things have specific times (lectures for class), but since I'm not conducting research right now there's only so much data I can analyze. Here's how I'm doing it.
Finding a "work space"
This was the first thing I did when this whole thing started. I live in a 1 bedroom, split level apartment so I don't have a real office. This meant I had to find somewhere I could devote to JUST school-related activities. I cannot work in my bed for the life of me so I knew my work space couldn't be in my room. What I ended up doing was picking one side of my dining room table that sits in an alcove under my steps, set my laptop up, along with all my notebooks for research and teaching, and only sit there when I'm working. I'm the type of person that needs a separation of my work from my home and designating a "work only space" was a step in the right direction for my mental health. Is it still weird? Absolutely, but having some slight separation can never hurt. I didn't want to associate my room with work because that would shoot my anxiety through the roof and I do NOT need that right now.
Keeping a "schedule"
Okay so I'm still working on making this perfect but trying to maintain some semblance of my "regular" schedule helps break up my days. I still meal prep on Sundays for part of the week, still use Tuesdays as my free day from teaching, still shower regularly (I just will stay in my pjs all day unless I have to be seen on Zoom), and I still try to be out of my bed by 9 am. I don't want my body to be totally off track by the time we get back to operating "normally" so a schedule helps me. I also have my teaching responsibilities to thank. We have lecture 3 times a week, I have office hours on Thursdays, and my lab still is having group meetings weekly, so that's helpful. I've also added things to my week. I do something self care related daily, I clean a room in my apartment at least twice a week, and I always have 3 nights TV free. It's hard not to rely on binge watching shows and movies, but I didn't want to be tied to it, nor did I want to run out of things to watch, so I have some nights where I don't turn it on at all and just listen to music, or I'll call my family and friends, or I'll color. I even bought a puzzle I'm taking my time to complete.
Trying something new
In the midst of not being able to go anywhere but Kroger, Chipotle, and Dunkin' (I'm exaggerating, but you get the picture), I'm trying to use this time to attempt new things. For me that's looked like straightening my hair, installing my own faux locs (they came out great!), new recipes, or even new home workouts. You don't have to use this time to gain a new skill or start a new business, if you don't want to. No one is expecting that from you, don't let social media fool you. Find whatever way(s) work for YOU to break up the monotony of being at home all the time. Sit outside, walk a new route, learn to do makeup, the possibilities are endless really. For me, my hair is always the first thing I decide to change when I'm bored, thus the straight hair followed by faux locs 2-3 weeks later, and after that cooking is my happy place so you can find me there trying something new too. But again, find whatever works for you and go for it and if you do something to your appearance (hair, nails, eyebrows, etc.) and it doesn't go as well as you'd like, no one really has to know. Just make sure you celebrate the effort you put into it.
Extending myself grace
This is the big one. This has never happened before so you not knowing how to cope is NORMAL and VALID. I really have to tell myself that all the time. I always think there's more I should be doing, but that's not the case. THIS IS HARD and that's okay. It's times like this that we have to look out for our mental health. There's no "right" way to handle this and sometimes just making through the day is all you can do. A LOT is going on all at once and being in the house all the time is not the best, but try to find comfort in the fact that you staying home, if you're not an essential worker, is saving lives. If you are essential, I personally want to say thank you for everything that you're doing and that I pray you are staying as healthy as you can. Extend yourself grace. Be kind to yourself, please. You are doing the best that you can. Be sure to do more frequent check ins with you.
We are all going to get through this. How have you been coping during this time? Check in with us on social media!