Keeping well, motivated, and connected!

The past month has been unprecedented for all of us as we have all had to adapt our personal and professional lives abruptly in ways that we did not expect. Over the past few weeks I have received emails from students, as well as been part of conversations with colleagues, family and friends, about the challenges surrounding maintaining motivation as we work from home during this time. This post offers some top tips and highlights some resources that may be of use to get you all going!

The usual caveats apply: the information posted here should not substitute professional or medical guidance and the ideas presented are not exhaustive.

Be realistic and fair on yourself and make sure that you are equiped with the right information. These are not ‘normal’ (whatever that means!) circumstances so do not put pressure on yourself to work like Superman or Wonder woman right now. Of course, we should all work to our best abilities to achieve our best work but we have all had to digest a lot of, let’s face it negative, information lately and adapt quickly as the situation has developed. Remember that this is a huge undertaking. To help, in the first instance, the University links below are essential to consult. Not only do they provide up to date information about current university procedures, advice and support available, they host official links and resources regarding managing your health and wellbeing.

Sensibly manage the information that you take in right now. At this time anxieties are naturally heightened because of the rolling news around the world. While it is important that we keep abreast of developments and advice, it is also essential to manage our intake of information sensibly for our mental health and wellbeing. Also, resist the temptation to judge yourself against what others say they are doing or posting on social media. This can be hard to do in reality as we try to stay connected, but it is important to remember that while we share some aspects of our personal and professional situations, we have our own particular challenges too! Be confident in your abilities, recognise what your strengths and capabilities are and what works best for you. Here are some useful links regarding managing your social media intake:

Wherever you are set up some designated space to work. This will not be the same for everyone but where possible dedicate space for yourself, be it a spot in the kitchen, bedroom, or living room, where you can keep your work organised and in one place. We all know it is a hassle and a distraction at times to have to constantly unpack and tidy work away so try to avoid this.  Do not underestimate the importance of natural light either – it can be a real mood lifter so picking they right spot to work is key. For instance, I have set up camp in my kitchen as I have easy access to the kettle and snacks (essential!) and I can watch my cats wander in and out as they amuse themselves – it is a great source of comfort!

Professor Rincewind getting ready for work…I mean, how can you not love that face!?

Make the best of the equipment and resources at your disposal. We have some fantastic resources to work with and many have eased the pressures of isolating. That said, it is important that we get the basics right. The following links offer some useful hints and tips for managing and improving technology as we work from home:

Also, don’t forget that there are a number of great resources online to manage your studies. If you have not done so already, check out the advice that has been outlined by your module tutors/supervisors and look at the following sites for access to more general resources:

Wake up early, get dressed, have breakfast, and set a time to start work every day! Sounds obvious right?! We all know that sometimes this is harder said than done…especially when we are left to our own devices! The reality is that if you get up at a specific time each day and set a routine to kick start your day in the right way, you will start on the right footing and feel good doing so.

Create a regular (and realistic!) routine and pace yourself. It might help to work to your term-time university timetable as if you were attending lectures normally. To help manage this,  set a timer on your phone so that you are not sat for too long working on a task. Check out this website on the pomodoro technique – a useful method for structuring your working day:

Take breaks, get up, and stretch! There is nothing worse for your back (and mental health) than being sat hunched at a desk for too long. The following links outline some advice and useful exercises to try out! There are a number of great, short exercise routines on YouTube that are easy to follow to get stretching! As above, be careful with what you select and seek medical advice if you need to.

Keep connected with friends! If you can, set up regular sessions online with your peers to check in on each other and socialise as well as study together. Zoom, Skype and so on are excellent for this.

Find motivational pieces to read or videos to watch. Sometimes hearing about other people’s experiences can inspire and motivate you! Check out the following:

A TEDx TALK by Jay Hayes Remotely Productive: You can work from home:

The more tongue-in-check piece featured in The Guardian recently:

Reward yourself for work! Ahem…see my point above about snacks!!