Agreed that this is indeed a sad and disturbing period for the world. Personally, I see this newly offered time as a blessing in disguise. For someone who has always liked working in the lab doing experiments more than the “desk work”, now I am forced to only do “desk work” that have been piling up all these days because of my favouritism.
In this time of crisis, here are a few things that has helped me gain my focus and I want to share with you some of my ideas to make this extra time as productive as you can:
- Make a WFH (work from home) schedule that works best for you! This doesn’t have to be a 9-to-5 work. Some of us are morning birds and some are night owls. I like to work early in the morning and take a lunch time break. Do what works best for you, but make sure to make a schedule! We have been fine tuned to work better when there is a routine to follow!
- All of us might have a lot of data to process. Image processing, counting, programming, noise removal.. you name it, we have it. Now is the time to complete all those data and be done forever (at least until the next batch of data)!
- Get those results in a representative format, analyse the results and plan your next steps in these experiments. This could be troubleshooting the problems, repeat experiments to increase sample size, plan the next advanced experiments to expand or streamline your research project!
- Literature digging!! Believe me, we have all been there! Novel ideas, new experiments, latest research and innovation in your field. A lot of time in a researcher´s job needs to be contributed for literature reading. But sadly sometimes we only read the part we are currently interested. How about doing a honest literature survey in your topic using this time?
- If you find it difficult to concentrate, I recommend using a concentration music or alpha wave music. You can find many such musics on YouTube, these kind of music help your mind to focus better. Just plug the earphones on and get away from all the noise and disturbance from your noisy flatmates, your little kid or sometimes even your spouse!
- Make sure your new makeshift office space is something you love and also very productive (not your bed or in your bedroom!). It is better to have a bright sunny spot in your house, with the temperature comfortable enough for your body, the right table and chair to maintain posture and have enough space for all your work materials.
- Organize your work done so far. Now you have time to hit that reset button. Try to get a clearer picture of what you have till now in your research and which further actions needs to be taken to yield a “relevant and useful” research for the global community.
- How many of us have been lucky to actually have an exclusive time allocated for writing? Write, write and write. And repeat! Write all the work you have done so far, even if your work is not complete yet to be ready for publishing, leave space that can be filled later and write the article in any case. Writing helps us clear our blocks and give clarity to get the bigger picture.
- Networking! Make contacts, keep in touch with your old ones. Know the who's and who's of your field, and suitable future career opportunities for you. See the skillset you need to develop and work accordingly so that you wouldn't be in an ignorant shock when you have to make a job change.
- Now that you have done a lot of literature survey, your mind might be too full of ideas and energy to try everything! It is important to organize and plan your “back to work” effectively. Plan your immediate days back-to-work. What is the most important most urgent work you have to do? Make a list of priorities so that you don’t get lost in the jungle of motivation. For example, I follow this idea from a colleague. A simple technique to organize myself at the time of multi-tasking:
Categorize your work into these four, and plan accordingly for your time back!
Cheers to all the peers! Stay home, stay healthy!
Sumithra Yasaswini Srinivasan, PhD fellow at the Nanoparticles and Nanocomposites (NN) group
*This text was written by Sumithra Yasaswini Srinivasan, PhD fellow at the Nanoparticles and Nanocomposites (NN) group. We thought that with the ICMAB turning to remote working due to the coronavirus outbreak, you might find these tips useful enough! Stay focused, energised and healthy!
*Sumithra is a fellow from DOC-FAM, European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement Nº 754397