• How to study at home during coronavirus – by online students and tutors

      Here’s how to study effectively from home, according to those who have been doing it all along

      For Dafydd Evans, 21, who studies media production at De Montfort University, online teaching has got off to a good start. “I didn’t think the new systems would cope, but they have,” he says. “We have contact with academics as normal and I really don’t think there’s much I’m missing out on.”

      Others, however, say it’s been an uphill struggle. “The sites are crashing and lecturers are struggling to turn face-to-face interactions into online discussions,” says Isabel Thomas (not her real name), who studies international development at the University of Sussex. “We don’t all log on at the same time as some don’t have stable enough internet connection for live chats. Everything is slower.”

      Scott Henderson, who studies esports at Staffordshire University, feels he’s missing out on valuable experience. “A big part of what we were doing this year was running a live event and we obviously can’t go forward with that,” he says.

      Although UK university learning has been moving online for a while in light of the coronavirus crisis, this wasn’t the experience most envisaged. For others, though, it was their first choice. We asked online learners and tutors for their tips on how to make it work.

      Create a study area …

      Although you may be competing with others in your household, try to mark out a work space. “Even if this is temporary each time you use it, place some physical objects around you to customise it. Make it comfortable,” says Martin Weller, professor of educational technology at the Open University. Set boundaries with others. If your study space is now the kitchen table, try to get an agreement that it is yours alone for a set time period.

      … and keep it tidy

      It’s hard to be disciplined to work at home, and even harder if the place is cluttered. “If you have piles of dishes or laundry around you it can be difficult to focus. I like to set a timer for 15 minutes and do a quick blitz of a room. It makes for a calmer environment,” says Kimberley Lowe, who studied Spanish and English at the Open University.

      Keep socialising

      Although you may miss campus and socialising in person, reaching out and connecting with staff and other students can maintain a sense of community. Use the online systems to maintain social contact. Stephane Bignoux, senior lecturer in management at Middlesex University, says although it can feel lonely, posting on discussion boards and reading other student’s posts can help. Set up informal discussions via Skype or FaceTime if you can.

      Reach out for help

      Not everyone has access to a laptop and reliable wifi. Some students are relying on mobile data to connect to their online lessons and many are missing physical resources such as the library and laboratories. Get in touch with your university if you don’t have access to the right equipment. “We are telling staff to make content easy to view and interact with on smartphones. It needs to be much more inclusive,” says Neil Morris, dean of digital education at the University of Leeds.

      Manage your time

      Recognise that different tasks require different levels of concentration. Watching a video can be easier than reading a complex text and taking notes. Divide your work in to manageable time slots and take proper breaks.

      Plan your day

      The fact that you can put off watching recorded lectures until later can be dangerous. Make sure you devote your full attention to the recording – don’t squeeze it in while eating or listening to music. Set a routine to use time efficiently, says Jack Yarrow, 28, a final year engineering student at the Open University. “If you’re tired or not feeling great don’t just sit there – go tidy up, and when you’re feeling more awake, apply yourself then.”

      Be clear when messaging colleagues

      As with other social media platforms, a simple misunderstanding in writing can quickly escalate. “What may have been intended as an ironic comment can be misinterpreted,” warns Weller.

      On discussion forums you may find that some who don’t speak up in class have more to say – which is a good thing. “My course generally don’t interact that much in lectures, but the interaction with online teaching has been constant,” says Evans. “It seems hiding behind the screen brings out confidence in our generation.”


    • Some Advice for PhD Students and Their Mentors in the Time of Coronavirus
      View all posts by Meghan Duffy →
      13-17 Minuten

      This blog post started as an email conversation between Dana Turjeman and Meghan Duffy. Dana turned her initial outline into a twitter thread (starting here). We decided it would be fun (and hopefully helpful!) to turn this into a blog post that expands on these ideas. So, here are the perspectives of a PhD student and a faculty member who are trying to figure out how to maintain mental health – and also hopefully some productivity, but that definitely comes second to physical & mental health – while social distancing.

      First, this assumes that you are not going about your normal routine, but, rather, trying to stay home as much as possible. This is strongly encouraged! If you aren’t sure of why, please read this.

      Here’s our advice:

      Most importantly: your health and the health of your loved ones comes first.

      There has been advice on how to stay productive while working from home, and we understand the motivation behind this. But we think it’s important to note that this is not business as usual. Things will be different, and it’s important to emphasize that physical and mental health come first. This should always be true, but it’s especially important right now.

      Maintain a routine – plan out your working hours, exercise, sleep, eating regularly, connections with others, work breaks, etc. (Note: this should also include keeping a sense of weekends, taking some days off from work.)

      Maybe you already were a routine kind of person – if so, great! Keep it up, adjusting your schedule to accommodate the new reality. Maybe you are not a schedule person. Take a growth mindset and give it a shot now! A lack of structure can be tough for mental health. Create structure as much as possible.

      If you can, try to get outside every day, to non-crowded places with fresh air. This might not hold to those who must stay in strict isolation (which is different from social distancing) and cannot get closer to others. But, to the extent possible, try to get sunlight and fresh air, even when indoors.

      Make sure you keep up other aspects of your normal routine. Meghan remembers how, when she was writing up her dissertation and her advisor was in a different state, she was thinking that she could just stay home all the time. At that time, she got advice along the lines of: “You need to come in at least for lunch or else first you’ll stop getting dressed, then you’ll stop showering, then you’ll stop brushing your teeth”. He had a point. So, while we aren’t going to gather in person for lunch now, it is still important to keep up normal routines!

      At the same time, be flexible. Modify your plans. Experiment with new approaches.

      We’re all going to be learning on the fly. You will misjudge how much you can do. Your initial routine may end up not working well for you. You will realize things work differently than you thought they would. This is all normal. Be flexible, and be kind with yourself and others as everyone figures out how to adjust.

      Arrange virtual coffees or lunches with colleagues, even if you didn’t have those before. Start with some small talk. (Bonus points if some of the small talk is not about coronavirus!)

      Social distancing is important, but really it’s physical distancing that we need, not social isolation. So, to the extent possible, try to connect with folks virtually.

      Stay connected, but not too connected.

      The internet helps a lot with maintaining connections with people (which is good!), but it’s also easy to get sucked in in ways that are not helpful. There are real downsides to anxiety scrolling through social media and constantly checking the news. Set limits on where you get your news and how often you check it (e.g., something like: “I will only check X sites, and I will only do that for 15 minutes four times a day” or “I will not check social media or news within 1 hour of bedtime”.) If you feel you check the news in ways that harm your mental health or productivity, and need an external boundary, try using “website blockers” on PC/Mac, and/or one of the many iPhone/Android apps. Some examples: WebsiteBlocker, ColdTurkey, HeyFocus.

      If a partner / housemate is staying with you at home, make sure to respect each other’s work time and routine. Try to get a break from time to time – by sitting in another room or, contrary to that, arranging fun games together to reduce the working stress. Being together more than you’re used to might cause stress and tension.

      Coming back to a common theme: we’re all trying to figure out new ways of working and living. Be kind, be compassionate, and communicate clearly and regularly.

      Find an accountability partner – someone you “promise” to show measurable progress of work to, and who will nudge you gently in the right direction if you’re not holding up to your promises.

      This may be a lab mate or a friend or someone else in your grad program or a colleague or a mentor. At first, it might help to check in pretty frequently – maybe three times a week or every week day. Keep the check in format short. One that Meghan has used (modified from resources from the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity) has: 1) My goals for yesterday were ; 2) I accomplished ; 3) My goals for today are . Depending on who you are checking in with, it might also make sense to explicitly check in about non-work stuff (e.g., are you maintaining connections with folks? Taking breaks from work? Getting sleep and exercise?)

      If progress on a project is paused or delayed because you’re unable to collect data / run studies in the lab etc., try to think of all the things you can do otherwise – literature review, writing introduction of a paper, ideation for another paper etc.

      In Meghan’s group, as of last week, the only lab work going on is: 1) maintaining cultures (which cannot be frozen, unfortunately) and, 2) finishing up one experiment (the last block of an experiment that is the last chapter of the dissertation of a student who is finishing this summer). Everything else is on hold, and all but three people in the lab have been told to work from home, and we’ve discussed how even those two things that are currently going on might need to stop. The folks staying at home are analyzing data, planning for future experiments, and working on literature reviews and meta-analyses. It will be interesting to see if there’s a notable increase in lit reviews & meta-analyses in the next year!

      For the PIs/advisors/mentors, some things to keep in mind as you think about where people should work should include things like how they would get there (e.g., would they need to take public transit?), what other responsibilities they have (remember that many schools are closed now), their health, their comfort levels with being out (some people will not feel safe coming in and that should be respected), and possible impacts on their careers. For the last one, though, the bar has to be in a different place than it normally would – productivity is going to be impacted by this.

      We were really impressed with the leadership shown by Tom Finholt, the Dean of UMichigan’s School of Information, as summarized here:

      Communicate clearly and regularly

      Information vacuums cause a lot of stress. Do your best to avoid them.

      For the advisors: make sure you are in regular contact with everyone in your lab. Check on them. Keep them up to date on the status of things. Make sure they have opportunities for informal conversations where they can ask questions. You should be in touch with your lab several times a week (but also should allow for them to be on their own schedules – everyone’s solution to the current situation is going to be different!)

      One idea Meghan heard that she liked is to set up frequent (three times a week or more) virtual lab hours where people from the lab can gather online to check in and chat with each other. Bonus: this increases the number of opportunities for seeing everyone’s pets!

      For the students: If possible, update your advisers and co-authors more than you are used to. Schedule weekly meetings – even short ones – as much as possible, while recognizing that they have other things to focus on, too. Find measurable results of analyses / writing to present each time. Send short email updates to them, with small chunks of your progress. If things are requested from them, make sure to allow extra flexibility, and find things that you can do even without their feedback, so that they won’t feel obliged to respond if unable to. For example: “Hi, I did these analyses. Below you may find the results, and a draft of the text I will put in the manuscript. I would love to hear your feedback whenever you have time. However, no rush. I understand things might be busy on your side too. Therefore, meanwhile, I will be working on the literature review for the other part of the paper. “

      For everyone: It is especially important to keep up with regular check-ins right now!

      Schedule meetings with people you wanted to meet offline / online anyways – such as fellow PhD students / faculty from other places. Many conferences are cancelled (and more cancellations are surely coming), and networking will be lacking. Try being proactive in fixing this. Example: email seminar speakers who were supposed to come, or people you hoped to meet in (now cancelled) conferences, and ask to meet them online instead.

      Some people will be too busy with childcare, moving courses online, etc., but others will be excited to have a chance to connect and to have a welcome distraction from all the other chaos!

      Take advantage of the reduced commute time, and learn something fun and new – cooking, art, meditation…whatever can be done indoors (or away from others) in a healthy, respectful way.

      Yes, for some people, just getting the bare minimum done will be all they can manage. But also consider whether this is an opportunity to try something new. Maybe it’s time to pick up a long neglected instrument, or to finally download that meditation app you’ve been considering, or to perfect your croissant-making techniques. (Meghan admits to having been tempted to finally get a new dog, but, sadly, concluded this is not the time.)

      Recognize that people are making hard choices, dealing with difficult circumstances, and doing the best they can.

      Your advisers, peers and colleagues might not be as responsive as you’d like. This will likely be even more so if they face health concerns or familial obligations. Remember that lots of people have things going on right now, some of which you will not know about (e.g., worrying about loved ones who are far away). Try to be understanding, and find other routes of support, as needed. Everyone is adjusting to a new situation, and lots of folks are extremely stressed and anxious right now.

      Your work matters, even if it isn’t directly linked to coronavirus or health.

      People who are not doing research directly linked to epidemiology, medicine, or something that feels pretty close to the pandemic might feel a sense of unworthiness. However, once things settle down, the impact of that work will become clear again!

      Again, remember that the wellbeing of you and your loved ones comes first. Some people are talking about how productive they will be because of this, ignoring that people will be sick and worried and that some people have family responsibilities that need to come first.

      There have been waaaaaay too many tweets noting how much Newton did in the year he was isolated as a result of the plague. This is our favorite take on those:

      Work isn’t going to be perfect, parenting isn’t going to be perfect. Again, we need to be compassionate (with ourselves and others) and be flexible.

      But what to do? One common suggestion has been to set a routine. (Meghan’s 4 year old helpfully set an alarm for 6AM – perhaps he is trying to keep us on schedule? Dana, on the other hand, hopes her toddlers won’t wake her up before 6AM.) This schedule has been going around social media:

      schedule of different things to do during a typical day, from waking to bedtime

      That particular routine might not work for you & your family, but trying some sort of routine seems like a good plan. (And, for those who do follow it, here’s hoping for lots of days where the kids earn 9PM bedtimes!)

      If you have a partner who is also working from home, discuss your plans for sharing the load – for example, maybe one person takes the lead on childcare/homeschooling in the morning and the other in the afternoon. Another option is 3 days for one, 3 days for the other.

      Your children’s school may have given some assignments for the coming weeks. If not (or if you want to supplement), other resources are available, such as Khan Academy and Scholastic Learn at Home. For more, here’s a list of education companies offering free subscriptions due to school closings.

      Finally, Amy Cohn (a UMich Engineering Prof & the Associate Director of the Center for Healthcare Engineering & Patient Safety) shared her thoughts in this twitter thread:

      Which ends with this advice:

      We’re interested in your thoughts, too! What advice would you give? What have you been doing that’s been helping? What are you trying to figure out? We’re hoping people will share their thoughts, questions, and experiences in the comments!

      About the authors
      Dana is a PhD student in Quantitative Marketing at Michigan’s Ross School of Business, where she is also the wellbeing and research productivity chair in their PhD forum. Meghan, as regular readers of the blog know, is a Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at Michigan and Chair of the Rackham Graduate School’s Task Force on Graduate Student Mental Health.

      Additional resources that might be of interest (please share others in the comments!):

      From Active Minds: Coping and Staying Emotionally Well During covid-19 related school closures

      From Gina Baucom & her lab: How to Science During a Pandemic

      From UMich’s Center for Academic Innovation: Adjusting your study habits during COVID, which includes these tips for working with a group or team:


    • Why You Should Ignore All That Coronavirus-Inspired Productivity Pressure
      By Aisha S. Ahmad
      9-12 Minuten

      Among my academic colleagues and friends, I have observed a common response to the continuing Covid-19 crisis. They are fighting valiantly for a sense of normalcy — hustling to move courses online, maintaining strict writing schedules, creating Montessori schools at their kitchen tables. They hope to buckle down for a short stint until things get back to normal. I wish anyone who pursues that path the very best of luck and health.

      Yet as someone who has experience with crises around the world, what I see behind this scramble for productivity is a perilous assumption. The answer to the question everyone is asking — “When will this be over?” — is simple and obvious, yet terribly hard to accept. The answer is never.

      Global catastrophes change the world, and this pandemic is very much akin to a major war. Even if we contain the Covid-19 crisis within a few months, the legacy of this pandemic will live with us for years, perhaps decades to come. It will change the way we move, build, learn, and connect. There is simply no way that our lives will resume as if this had never happened. And so, while it may feel good in the moment, it is foolish to dive into a frenzy of activity or obsess about your scholarly productivity right now. That is denial and delusion. The emotionally and spiritually sane response is to prepare to be forever changed .

      The rest of this piece is an offering. I have been asked by my colleagues around the world to share my experiences of adapting to conditions of crisis . Of course, I am just a human, struggling like everyone else to adjust to the pandemic. However, I have worked and lived under conditions of war, violent conflict, poverty, and disaster in many places around the world. I have experienced food shortages and disease outbreaks, as well as long periods of social isolation, restricted movement, and confinement. I have conducted award-winning research under intensely difficult physical and psychological conditions, and I celebrate productivity and performance in my own scholarly career.

      I share the following thoughts during this difficult time in the hope that they will help other academics to adapt to hardship conditions. Take what you need, and leave the rest.

      Stage No. 1: Security

      Your first few days and weeks in a crisis are crucial, and you should make ample room to allow for a mental adjustment. It is perfectly normal and appropriate to feel bad and lost during this initial transition. Consider it a good thing that you are not in denial, and that you are allowing yourself to work through the anxiety. No sane person feels good during a global disaster, so be grateful for the discomfort of your sanity. At this stage, I would focus on food, family, friends, and maybe fitness . (You will not become an Olympic athlete in the next two weeks, so don’t put ridiculous expectations on your body.)

      Next, ignore everyone who is posting productivity porn on social media right now. It is OK that you keep waking up at 3 a.m. It is OK that you forgot to eat lunch and cannot do a Zoom yoga class. It is OK that you have not touched that revise-and-resubmit in three weeks.

      Ignore the people who are posting that they are writing papers and the people who are complaining that they cannot write papers. They are on their own journey. Cut out the noise.

      Know that you are not failing. Let go of all of the profoundly daft ideas you have about what you should be doing right now. Instead, focus intensely on your physical and psychological security . Your first priority during this early period should be securing your home. Get sensible essentials for your pantry, clean your house, and make a coordinated family plan. Have reasonable conversations with your loved ones about emergency preparedness . If you have a loved one who is an emergency worker or essential worker , redirect your energies and support that person as your top priority. Identify their needs, and then meet those needs.

      No matter what your family unit looks like, you will need a team in the weeks and months ahead. Devise a strategy for social connectedness with a small group of family, friends, and/or neighbors , while maintaining physical distancing in accordance with public-health guidelines. Identify the vulnerable and make sure they are included and protected.

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      The best way to build a team is to be a good teammate, so take some initiative to ensure that you are not alone. If you do not put this psychological infrastructure in place, the challenge of necessary physical-distancing measures will be crushing. Build a sustainable and safe social system now .

      Stage No. 2: The Mental Shift

      Once you have secured yourself and your team, you will feel more stable, your mind and body will adjust, and you will crave challenges that are more demanding. Given time, your brain can and will reset to new crisis conditions, and your ability to do higher-level work will resume.

      This mental shift will make it possible for you to return to being a high-performance scholar, even under extreme conditions. However, do not rush or prejudge your mental shift, especially if you have never experienced a disaster before. One of the most relevant posts I saw on Twitter (by writer Troy Johnson) was: “Day 1 of Quarantine: ‘I’m going to meditate and do body-weight training.’ Day 4: just pours the ice cream into the pasta” — it’s funny but it also speaks directly to the issue.

      Now more than ever, we must abandon the performative and embrace the authentic. Our essential mental shifts require humility and patience. Focus on real internal change. These human transformations will be honest, raw, ugly, hopeful, frustrated, beautiful, and divine. And they will be slower than keener academics are used to. Be slow. Let this distract you. Let it change how you think and how you see the world. Because the world is our work. And so, may this tragedy tear down all our faulty assumptions and give us the courage of bold new ideas .

      Stage No. 3: Embrace a New Normal

      On the other side of this shift, your wonderful, creative, resilient brain will be waiting for you. When your foundations are strong, build a weekly schedule that prioritizes the security of your home team , and then carve out time blocks for different categories of your work: teaching, administration, and research. Do the easy tasks first and work your way into the heavy lifting. Wake up early. The online yoga and crossfit will be easier at this stage.

      Things will start to feel more natural. The work will also make more sense, and you will be more comfortable about changing or undoing what is already in motion. New ideas will emerge that would not have come to mind had you stayed in denial. Continue to embrace your mental shift. Have faith in the process. Support your team.

      Understand that this is a marathon. If you sprint at the beginning, you will vomit on your shoes by the end of the month. Emotionally prepare for this crisis to continue for 12 to 18 months , followed by a slow recovery. If it ends sooner, be pleasantly surprised. Right now, work toward establishing your serenity, productivity, and wellness under sustained disaster conditions.

      None of us knows how long this crisis will last. We all want our troops to be home before Christmas. The uncertainty is driving us all mad.

      Of course, there will be a day when the pandemic is over. We will hug our neighbors and our friends. We will return to our classrooms and coffee shops. Our borders will eventually reopen to freer movement. Our economies will one day recover from the forthcoming recessions.

      Yet we are just at the beginning of that journey. For most people, our minds have not come to terms with the fact that the world has already changed. Some faculty members are feeling distracted and guilty for not being able to write enough or teach online courses properly. Others are using their time at home to write and report a burst of research productivity. All of that is noise — denial and delusion. And right now, denial only serves to delay the essential process of acceptance , which will allow us to reimagine ourselves in this new reality.

      On the other side of this journey of acceptance are hope and resilience . We will know that we can do this, even if our struggles continue for years. We will be creative and responsive, and will find light in all the nooks and crannies. We will learn new recipes and make unusual friends. We will have projects we cannot imagine today, and will inspire students we have not yet met. And we will help each other. No matter what happens next, together, we will be blessed and ready to serve.

      In closing, I give thanks to those colleagues and friends who hail from hard places, who know this feeling of disaster in their bones. In the past few days, we have laughed about our childhood wounds and have exulted in our tribulations. We have given thanks and tapped into the resilience of our old wartime wounds. Thank you for being warriors of the light and for sharing your wisdom born of suffering. Because calamity is a great teacher.

      Aisha Ahmad is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Toronto and the author of the award-winning book Jihad & Co: Black Markets and Islamist Power (Oxford University Press, 2017). Her Twitter is @ProfAishaAhmad.


      Aisha Ahmad’s personal website: https://www.aishasahmad.com/about

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    • Staying Grounded & Connected to Academic Work in the Time of COVID-19 - The Dissertation Coach

      Alison Miller, PhD, Owner of The DIssertation Coach & Kathryn Peterson, PhD, Dissertation Coach
      8-10 Minuten

      When we imagined the world in 2020, we didn’t conceive of this very strange and frightening reality of COVID-19. But here we are, living in some kind of dystopian existence, where our world has been turned upside down by a global pandemic.

      Just a little while ago, we were unfamiliar with terms like social distancing [sic #terminology —> physical distancing, smart distancing or distant socialising] , shelter in place, safer at home, or flattening the curve. Few of us have ever experienced empty supermarket shelves, toilet paper and hand sanitizer shortages, or scrambling to recalibrate our lives to work online. Many of us are having to make countless small and large adjustments. You may be teaching online, changing your routines and suddenly coworking with others, becoming homeschool teachers overnight while schools are shut down, or caring for others who cannot leave their homes at all.

      Even in the face of our new reality, we know it is important to maintain some sense of #routine and #normality. We also know that many of you still want to make progress on the path to earning a graduate degree. We are all needing a way to manage the #stress and #uncertainty of our new reality, yet still be able to #focus, #concentrate, and complete academic tasks. To that end, we want to offer you a few #ideas of how you can support yourself to stay grounded, productive, and connected to your academic work during this unprecedented time.


      To start, it can make a big difference to clarify your priorities . In terms of your academic work, we encourage you to consider what deadlines you have or goals are you seeking to meet. What work would it feel really good to (realistically and humanely) accomplish today, this week, this month? Take into account what can reasonably be accomplished given what is happening in your household, changes to your work or childcare responsibilities, and the stress of living through this pandemic. We recommend writing down the academic and life priorities you have over the next few weeks to set the stage for making progress and being able to care for yourself and loved ones. Each evening, write out your priorities for the next day and give yourself specific writing or other research tasks that can be completed in shorter intervals of time. For example, instead of a directive to “write chapter 2,” it may be more helpful to identify small subsections in chapter 2 to write in a given day.


      A great way to feel connected to your work is to set up a structure for your day that includes some academic zones , periods of time when you will commit to only doing academic tasks (and truly take a break from your phone, email, social media, and the news). This is especially important if you are not used to working from home. It can be very helpful to map out a plan for the day that includes when you are writing or doing other academic tasks, when you are exercising, and when you are managing other work and personal responsibilities with space to unwind and even do nothing. Alison closes out each work day by mapping out the next day on a yellow pad of paper and uses that written plan as a roadmap for how to move through her day including her own writing projects, phone calls and meetings, administrative tasks,etc. She often plans 1-2 hour blocks of phone and email free time for writing projects. Alison has learned from experience how vital it is to build in time to rest, eat, connect with her family and unwind so she can better focus and concentrate when it is time to work. Inside your academic work zones, you may find it especially helpful to use the Pomodoro Technique , where you work in 25 minute increments (check out Spotify’s Pomodoro Playlist) or virtually co-work with others via Skype or Zoom.


      Virtually #coworking with others can be a great way to feel more accountable and supported while also reducing the #isolation of only being able to work at home. We offer virtual writing boot camps for our clients and many of them tell us that coworking is the only way they can focus and make meaningful progress during this pandemic. Coworking can make a surprising difference in your productivity. Here is a suggested coworking strategy:

      Find one or more people to schedule a coworking call. Open the call with a 5-10 minute meeting to get connected and declare your work goals for the first work session. We find that using Skype or Zoom with video can be very helpful.
      Agree to a set amount of time you will all work and then turn off the video and sound during the work session. Set an alarm or timer so you know when to return to the call at the agreed upon time.
      Take a 5-10 minute break and share what you were able to accomplish. Support and encourage each other as needed and declare your goals for the next work session. Alison typically co-works with others for 1.5 to 2 hour blocks of time, checking in about every 40 minutes or so. Other people prefer the pomodoro method mentioned above, where they work for 25 minutes and check in for 5, doing between 2 and 4 pomodoros in a row.
      Close out the co-working session by acknowledging your accomplishments and anything you want to do to make future work sessions more effective. Schedule another coworking session.


      We are all facing challenges and uncertainty at this time. Many of us are experiencing that our bodies are flooded with adrenaline and cortisol leaving us in a chronic flight, fight, or freeze state. You may be losing track of time and feel like your brain is not fully functioning. If you feel like your IQ has dropped or you are struggling to remember, think, or write clearly, you are not alone. What we are experiencing with COVID-19 is pushing us into survival consciousness where the reptilian brain (more primitive part of the brain) takes charge, and the neocortex (where higher order functioning takes place) gets limited to rehashing the past or trying to control the future. Thus it becomes harder to think clearly and make thoughtful, conscious choices. We are more likely to be in a reactive mode. So please be gentle with yourself and keep focusing on what is in your control. None of us can control how long this pandemic will last, whether others will practice social distancing [sic] , or when life will feel more normal again. Yet we can all practice being kind and compassionate toward ourselves and others. We can stay informed while also maintaining a healthy boundary with news and social media, find enjoyable activities and do things like connect with loved ones virtually, engage in activities that help us unwind from stress, and practice social distancing [sic] and other recommended behavior. Believe it or not, some of you may find working on your dissertation to be a helpful refuge from the world . Also, don’t forget to take time to create a peaceful, organized workspace so you have an environment that feels good and is conducive to productivity..


      Some of you may work in healthcare or other fields that are seriously impacted by COVID-19 or now have children at home who require your attention and care. If your professional or parenting responsibilities are making it very difficult to meet external deadlines, we encourage you to be in communication sooner rather than later. Most likely, faculty and administration will be flexible and grant extensions to students given this pandemic. Communicate this message in a positive way that demonstrates your commitment to meet existing deadlines with an alert that you may need to ask for an extension. In our experience, it is better to communicate early and provide a proactive warning that you may not be able to meet deadlines .

      We are here rooting for you to put one foot in front of the other, taking it one day at a time, maybe one hour at a time. From all of us at The Dissertation Coach, we hope you and your loved ones stay healthy and safe.