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Working from home during covid-19

Has anybody been counting how many days it’s been since we got locked down? We know that in Quito, the stoplight remains in “red” (i.e. full lockdown) at least until the end of the month, with the exception for a few selected construction projects that are tested as pilot projects.

We may all be working (mostly) from home until a vaccine is widely available (I’m rooting for you, virologists and immunologists et al for your dedication to science and your hard work these days.) So, how do we do this?

I used to work from home a couple of hours each day before my daughter was born. These *used* to be my most productive hours of the day – just distraction-free writing on my tiny Ikea corner desk.

However, things are different now – and with a two-year-old toddler running wild, it’s not easy to get anything done. Maybe when you saw the title of this post, you expected some peptalk from Auntie Eva. But this time, I have only one message for you: cut yourself some slack.

You may not have small children that scream for your attention, but you may be worrying about your parents or grandparents, or your immunocompromised friends. The job market is uncertain. Many people have lost their jobs (the stock market does not seem to care). We all have things eating up our mental space. This is not working from home under normal conditions.

So, cut yourself some slack. If your supervisor is human, he/she will understand. If the thought hasn’t crossed his/her mind, then just tell him/her that you’re not up to your best work these days.

Set priorities. I am trying to prioritize my graduate students at the moment. Between my own research and their need for advice, my own work will need to go to the backburner (even though numbercrunching may be the thing I enjoy doing most). I’ve pretty much rejected all requests to review papers. I’m reconsidering all planned trips, not just because of the logistics, but also because I’m not sure where I’ll get the funding for it.

Stay healthy.
If you are allowed to walk around the block, and you think it is safe – then come out and get some movement and daylight. If you need to stay inside, see if you can get in a home workout, and open your windows for a bit of air and natural light. Eat well and get your zzzzs. Don’t be like me, trying to work/parent on and off from 5 am to midnight (and then wake up 3 times in the night for a daughter with nightmares) – it doesn’t get you anymore.

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