As someone who thrives on routine, going into lockdown and working from home on a permanent basis has been tough. I work full time for the Students’ Union and I started to work from home permanently on the 17th of March. While it was tricky at first, I have managed to develop a new kind of routine now.
I live in a small flat so no desk space or a spare room to work from and, with a partner who is also working from home, we’ve had to be crafty with the space that we do have. I was lucky enough to have a desk topper that converts from sit to stand bought for me but, with no desk, it sits on my coffee table instead! New routines don’t come easy but I make sure to pack down the desk, my screen and my computer each night which helps me to separate my work life and my normal life. I still run outdoors so I’ve managed to keep a small part of my normal workday routine by running in the mornings before I start work for the day. Running outdoors really helps my mental health so I’m grateful that this remains a constant in my life.
One benefit of working from home is that I’ve actually been really productive. I’m a list keeper and I usually have quite a few items on my to-do list. I work in a student facing role meaning we usually have a lot of students coming to the door every day and it turns out, without physically being able to see students, the things I need to do on this list get ticked off a lot quicker!
I do miss this interaction with students and I’m really proud of the ones I work with closely. They’ve adapted incredibly well during tough times and, although they’ve expressed how sad it’s been to have to wrap up their Society activities early, they’ve rallied together and dealt with it in really positive ways. We ran our Student Awards event digitally so I’m delighted that we got to celebrate our students’ achievements, albeit in a very different way.
On top of my full-time work, I’m also a part-time Masters student at the University so I understand the impact this situation has had on them. I’m studying a Research Masters in the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries so a lot of my research is done individually anyway but it can be hard not having your network around you in difficult times. A lot of the students I work with were due to graduate this summer so now won’t see the many friends they’ve made until they do.
If the current situation has taught me anything it’s that I don’t really know how to slow down even when life forces it upon you. I’m constantly working towards something or engaging in a new challenge – now I’ve finished my university coursework for this year, I’m setting up a virtual event for charity and taking a nutrition course online. But I have realised now that it’s important to give yourself downtime as well.
Some days I’m full of motivation and still find myself working away after 5 pm and other days I have no concentration at all, but I’m learning that this is OK. I’m a big planner and like things to be just so but now I’m taking it one day at a time – learning that it’s OK for my ‘normal’ to look a little different right now.
In the photo on the left the desk topper is closed for when Claire sits down to work and in the photo on the right, the desk topper is opened for when Claire wants to stand.
Claire is a Student Groups Coordinator at the Students’ Union and a MRes student at the University of Portsmouth.