Starting at Solent during lockdown
Dr Teresa Corbett recently joined Solent University as a lecturer in Psychology during the UK lockdown. Here Teresa shares her experiences of what its like to start a new job during this time and her tips for time management.
Dr Teresa Corbett joined Solent University as a lecturer in psychology during the UK lockdown. Here, Teresa shares her experiences of what its like to start a new job during this time and her tips for time management.
My start date for Solent was 1 April, however in response to the Covid-19 crisis the country went into lockdown two weeks prior. Working remotely since the lockdown meant I had already established some sense of a routine. My partner is also working from home and in a small flat that can be tricky. But by 1 April all the initial glitches were ironed out and I was eager to start my new role.
I find the following strategies have been particularly useful for managing my time while working from home:
- Each week I make a list of tasks I want to achieve. This helps me to structure my days and lessens the 'guilt' of not doing enough. There is always something to do. With a to-do list, I can see in my diary that I have achieved enough each day. And the satisfaction of ticking-off each job serves as positive reinforcement and keeps me motivated.
- I have a very clear structure to my day. I start at 9am and have lunch at 12.30/1pm, as I would if I was in the office. At the end of the day, I shut down the computer and do not check my emails again until the morning.
- Taking a break from my desk at lunchtime is very important and I never eat at my desk. I use this time to do a few jobs around the house or pop to the shops. Sometimes I just sit and chat with my partner while we eat.
- My phone is kept in my bedroom, away from where I work. This allows me to stay 'in-the-zone' during work time and not be frazzled by a constant stream of notifications and updates. My WhatsApp groups have been particularly chatty since the lockdown and can serve as too much of a distraction. I’ve also turned off notifications from news outlets on my phone, as I found the constant bombardment with bad news was neither helpful nor productive. However, I do wish to stay informed, so instead I just watch the news once a day at 6pm.
- At the end of each working day, we go for our daily walk or run. This serves as a proxy for my would-be walk from home. It marks the end of my work day and the transition to home-life again. Mentally, I find this very helpful as it removes any temptation to continue working into the evening. It also allows me to reclaim my home as a relaxing space where I can chill out for the evening.
Starting a new job in quarantine is not ideal, because I do miss that human connection. I am grateful to have started at a time that allows me to ease into the role at my own pace. While it is not ideal, working from the comfort and safety of my own home is a luxury these days. I don’t have the extra stress of worrying about my loved ones as they head out to work as key workers each day. I do not have the added pressure of having to look after small children or vulnerable family members. My partner and I are both still employed and have not been affected financially by the current crisis.
We are healthy and safe, and it is not lost on me how lucky we are.