As students return to campus and the academic year kicks off this week, we all realise the surreal and unusual circumstances we all find ourselves in. Put another way, our return to LSE during a global pandemic is unprecedented in modern times. For new students joining the LSE community for the first time, it can feel like you’re not getting the experience you expected. That’s normal and understandable. But as we navigate the new year together and adjust to the challenges we face, I wanted to take a moment to write about how to stay motivated while working from home during this time as many of us will largely be doing as a measure against COVID-19. Working from home can often pose difficulties, but as someone who does it often anyway as a PhD student, I want to share some tips which you might find useful so you can stay motivated and productive.
A lot of people might tell you to work 9-5 like you might as if you were in an office job. I actually disagree with that. That schedule doesn’t work for everyone and might in fact be counterproductive for you. So what I’ll say is that you should have your own routine that works for you, whatever it might be. I think the thing to keep in mind here is to have some sort of daily routine in order to give yourself some continuity and create an environment that allows you to work and work well.
Working from home can often feel aimless or distracting, especially if you are used to working around other people or in a more social environment, which provides its own form of discipline. To mitigate that potential challenge, I find it helpful to set daily or weekly goals. Having benchmarks to work against can give you purpose and helps you work toward something. When you achieve your goal, it makes you feel productive and provides a sense of satisfaction, which is gratifying and helps you maintain motivation.
Every day when I work from home, I watch an episode of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, which is available on YouTube the day after each episode is taped and airs on television, while I have lunch. Beyond finding Stephen Colbert absolutely hilarious, I do this purposefully to give myself something to look forward to during the day and to help me have a fun activity in the middle of the work day. I find it important to break up for your day with something you enjoy or something different. For me, it’s watching Stephen Colbert. For you, it could be taking a walk, exercising, or FaceTiming with a friend. Whatever it is, you should do it to reward yourself for some hard work done and to motivate yourself for the rest of your day.