Festival Daily Check-Ins: Working from home and productivity tips (Monday)

We caught up with Carina Hoerst from the Excursions Journal team to start off our Festival Daily Check-Ins and Lockdown Tips

  1. What Working from Home (WFH) and general productivity tips have you got (back) into throughout lockdown?

Maybe most importantly, I try to keep a balance between work and time off (and am occasionally distracted by some four-legged visitors!). I have also started to use the time for reflection on what is good/ not so good for me, both personally and professionally.

Professionally, maintaining a structure has turned out to be the most helpful. Offline, getting up on time, and creating a designated working space helps me to literally ‘make space’ for work. Online, I make use of (new) technological opportunities like apps, online writing groups, free webinars, online courses etc, which are useful to help me structure the day/work.

  1. How have these helped you throughout lockdown/Covid-19?

I have started to embrace (the dependency on) technology. I can attend meetings, collaborate with colleagues, sometimes from all over the world, switch to a free webinar, and catch up with my friends – all in one day! I also think it helps to adjust if you can transfer your (pre-COVID-19) strengths to the new situation. For example, I like organising so I started convening weekly meetings with my research group on Zoom. I have got to know amazing new people through this and it has even provided me with new collaboration opportunities.

But, of course, living and working in the same place can get challenging and there are bad days, on which no routine works! Re-structuring the areas I work and live in helps immensely to make a cut between work and time off. I also learned to value baking, audiobooks, ‘calling it a day’, and I want to say running but actually… I still have a love-hate relationship with it!

I think that admitting you have a bad day (or days… even weeks!), or that the focus is simply gone, and being kind and patient to yourself, helps to take the edge off and to find your focus again eventually.

  1. What would you recommend for people interested in finding out more about WFH and productivity, and where can they access resources?

If you struggle with writing, check out online writing groups or boot camps, and try productivity methods (e.g. Pomodoro) or apps (e.g. Forest) that can help improve your work and overcome ‘Procrastinitis’. YouTube offers a variety of background noises and focus music (including for ADHD) to help you stay focused.

In the context of our weekly sessions, my research group has come up with a collection of thoughts and experiences, for example, on How to cope with working from home or How to overcome writer’s block, and the Excursions Journal has also started a call for essays on Research in Times of Chaos, which aims to collect and share how researchers deal with the situation.

But as much as working on your productivity directly, I think, realising that we are living in moving times and that it is challenging, and that most of us experience bad days, might help to be kind and patient to yourself and eventually find a natural focus.