Some reflections on home-working during the lockdown

We have had a couple of posts (1, 2) from distance learners sharing their existing expertise on working from home, but in this post we hear from Charles Goode, an on-campus full-time PGR in the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, who has had to adapt.

Over the past months our daily lives, especially our working lives, have been completely transformed by the Coronavirus. To begin with, I found the lockdown really hard to adjust so thought that it would be a good opportunity to share some personal reflections on home-working. Note that I am currently in my final year, so I’m lucky that my data collection process has not been disrupted.

Adjusting to the ‘new’ normal regarding work

Charles in his office/shed
Charles in his new home office (in the shed)

One of the hardest things I found was separating work from home. I generally don’t work particularly well from home through being easily distracted (especially with the excellent weather)! Traditionally, I have done most of my work from the office or the library and tried to separate work and home as much as possible. Of course, this was no longer an option but my auntie had the brilliant idea of making an office in the shed to create some kind of separation between work and home. This works brilliantly as it means that I now have a particular place where I can work and also it’s much quieter!

It is also important to be realistic how much work we can do and the assumption that we can work to our full productivity. There is a lot of anxiety connected with the virus and even the much sunnier, warmer weather after such a wet winter means that it is harder to concentrate. The key is to therefore focus on the essentials and not get overly frustrated if work takes longer to complete.

Re-evaluating the most important things in life

Whilst there is a tremendous amount of anxiety, it is also a time to take stock and focus on the most important things in life. For me, this is my Christian faith. I am still enjoying Christian meetings although they are now on Zoom! It also makes us appreciate more our friends and family and all the tremendous work that the NHS, care workers and the millions of essential workers do. We all have an individual story to tell here – my Mum died aged 57 back in November after a long struggle with cancer so I am thankful for all that the NHS did for her.

More broadly, this lockdown is also making us appreciate our local communities and areas more, especially on our daily exercise. I never realised that the River Severn is so beautiful in spring! Additionally, the pace of modern life is so rapid, especially for doctoral researchers with the expectation of conferences, publications, teaching as well as the thesis itself! However, this lockdown is forcing us to slow down our pace of life, which is probably good thing for us and a unique opportunity.

Revisit an old hobby, take up a new one!

I studied and absolutely loved Stuart history at undergraduate and reading books about the Restoration and Glorious Revolution again has made me realise how much I still find the period fascinating; so much so that it is distracting me from my PhD on Green Belts! Also, the restriction of one form of exercise a day outside is forcing me to take up other forms of exercise (I find that it’s a great way to de-stress), including going on my trampoline which I have not been on for years!

This is obviously a devastating virus which we really hope and pray will soon pass through – we feel particularly for those on the frontline and bereaved. But it is a time when we can adjust to other modes of working, re-evaluate what’s most important and (re)discover hobbies.

How are you adapting to the new normal?  What are your biggest challenges? 

2 thoughts on “Some reflections on home-working during the lockdown”

  1. The essential thing to do in the lockdown:

    What is the Nature Thing I usually do especially the lockdown in Birmingham? As an international PhD student, I am thrilled to awarded by a full scholarship and studied at university of Birmingham.

    However, the isolation changes everything, and I am isolating myself since March. Although the unexpected situation interrupts my rhythm of life, “Creativity” and “Self-Discipline” are my key to cure my boredom and loneliness. Making music via Ableton Live as an amateur music lover, keeping motivation in my PhD research in theology and Sigur Ros and playing PS4 are my holy trinity. Until now, my upcoming track is nearly finished and it may be released under UK Indie music label ; my thesis has already written twenty thousand words. Not sure when the lockdown will end, but I am making sure that I have a productive daily routine. But most likely, I will finish the PS4 game, Final Fantasy 7 remake first.

    Michael Tang
    PhD researcher in the department of theology and religion


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Helen Kara

Writing and research

PostGradual: The PhD Careers Blog

Taking PhD careers one tip at a time

Think: Research

Because there's always room for improvement

Research & Scholarship Skills

Handy hints for PhD students

Think Ahead Blog

from the Researcher Development team at the University of Sheffield

Jobs on Toast

Take the next step in your career - with Chris Humphrey, PhD


research education, academic writing, public engagement, funding, other eccentricities.

The Thesis Whisperer

Just like the horse whisperer - but with more pages

%d bloggers like this: