The last semester of the Global Master Programmes at KI is usually centered around the master’s thesis. This is no exception for the second year Molecular Techniques in Life Science students, like me. With half of the semester already over, the toughtest weeks are approaching, which I expect to be pretty busy with finishing results and writing. To make things (even) more challenging, due to current circumstances most of us are working from home. I have never “worked from home” before, other than studying for exams during rather short time periods, and always with more people around. Every student’s situation is of course different, and I consider myself very lucky because since all my work is computer-based, working from home is not very different than working from the lab office. However, it can be sometimes difficult to spend so much time in a 17 squared-meter corridor room. Every person deals differently with this type of situations, and although surely the thesis stress can be motivation enough to work hard every day, I have found that these tips are helping me work from home.
This is one thing that I used to do before, even when working in tha lab, but that I’m paying extra attention to these days. For me, setting weekly and daily goals helps me to keep my work on track, and who doesn’t get a very rewarding feeling everytime another thing on a to-do list is crossed out?
Moreover, it helps me to organize my time and make sure to reserve enough time for important tasks that can be easily pushed away, like writing. I do this by keeping my Google calendar with all the tasks I have to do, and setting deadlines for myself, even if my supervisors don’t.
Working area vs. free-time area
I have also found that the most separated you keep your working area from your “free-time” areas (i.e. sofa), the easier will be to focus on working. This is of course not easy when you live in a single-room apartment, but putting effort on having a nice and pleasant working area will pay off by increasing your productivity and focus.
One of the problems I had the first days was that, since I did not have to “lose” any of my time in commuting and because I was very hooked with my thesis, I ended up working until very late, with few breaks. After doing this for several days (without really planning to) my brain was exhausted. I then decided to have the same schedule as I would have if I was going to the lab, and I have been more efficient since. This also means that I make use of the extra time I have every day for cooking, exercising and keeping in touch with friends and family.
Don’t hesitate to email
One last point that I have learned is that, sometimes is hard for us students to contact our supervisors, even if they are the nicest person on the world and reply to our questions super quickly with the best intentions. I think most students always think twice before sending an email, to make sure to just send the necessary ones. However, working from home means that it is not possible to just have a quick chat with your supervisor to fix that tiny question that is slowing down your work. Therefore, and even if no one likes it, it means that more emails have to be sent. I am trying to follow that line of thought, and surely keeping emails at minimum and necesary levels, but also not struggling a lot to find the answer to a problem that I know my supervisors would gladly help me to solve.
What are your best tips to work from home?
Send all your questions about student life at KI to my email address, I’ll be very happy to help!
LinkedIn: Inés Rivero García