If you attend an in-person undergraduate or graduate program, you most likely have been affected by school closures, due to the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. Hopefully, your school and specific programs have provided enough information for you about what’s going on, the timeline, and what protocols to follow regarding academics, assignments, projects, and so forth – but for those of you working on research, data collection, and especially getting ready to defend your dissertation, all of this unexpected change might have you a little on edge.

If you’re attending a distance-learning program, you’re used to self-directed work and scheduling, but if your children are home because of COVID-19, this can add a few layers of difficulty to your work. Having children underfoot can be distracting and make it hard to focus, not to mention the added responsibility of ensuring they’re doing their work.

First: BREATHE. Really. Take a minute and breathe. When we start to get anxious, we unconsciously take shallower, shorter breaths, which further perpetuates anxiety, physiologically. So take a minute to really breathe in and out, slowly and deeply. Keep doing it.

Now, if you’re conducting research, have you spoken with your advisor, Chair, committee, or anyone else advising you on your research? Have plans been made for adjusting deadlines and expectations? Talk with them about how you’re expected to continue doing work and what these closures will mean for your specific project. If you’re working with human participants, your research might be on hold, or significantly altered, for the time being. The good news is, that this should be temporary. Things will settle down, eventually, but this is a blip on the radar that we all need to learn to live with. There are always contingency plans to be made with research – the health of you, your loved ones, and those around you is most important.

That being said, we know this is stressful and can be upsetting. Not to mention that if you’re uprooted and back at home with family, you’re going to have to adjust your daily routine, while engaging with distance learning, which you may not be used to. We’re here to help get you through.

Here are some tips for those of you who have had to move because of school closures and ways to stay on track.

Make a schedule, and stick to it. Just because you’re not going to classes doesn’t mean you can sleep until noon. Wake up early, get dressed in real clothes (i.e., not pajamas or sweats), and get to work! Make a schedule for yourself every day regarding homework, readings, projects, research, and stick to it. You’ll still have deadlines to meet anyway, but keeping on track with work on a regular basis will save you time and energy later.

Keep up your research and reading. Thanks to the internet, remote access to databases, and your school’s library system, if you’re working on a thesis or dissertation, you’ll still be able to access journal articles and materials. Why not take this time to focus on acquiring sources and other aspects of your research, if you can’t do the data collection right now? It’s a great time to stay abreast of all the current research in your field.

Stay connected. Social distancing and self-isolation can help “flatten the curve,” epidemiology-wise, but it can be mentally isolating as well. Don’t forget to stay connected with classmates, advisors, and friends – social media can be great for this. See if your cohort has a FB group, or make one. Email with your advisor regularly about things that are due. Take a break for phone calls or even the occasional coffee with a friend.

Manage your expectations with kids. For younger kids, it’s okay if they’re bored. They will learn to occupy themselves. It’s perfectly okay to have them watch a television show or movie while you work for a bit. Older kids who need to do schoolwork can sit with you and do their work next to you while you do yours, or you can set aside time every day to help with their work, and then re-arrange your work schedule, accordingly.

Take care of yourself. This can be an anxiety-producing time. Check out some blog posts of ours on self-care here and here. You can’t pour from an empty cup, so it’s important to ensure that you have lots of reserves, especially if you have little ones at home.

Hire a professional editor! Working from home can be difficult and after you turn in your chapters to your advisor, you might need assistance in addressing their comments and feedback. Say no more! Dissertation Editor is here to help. Seeking the assistance of a professional editor can provide you with additional support when you aren’t able to easily access your professor or colleagues.

If you’re at home, uprooted because of COVID-19, don’t panic. This too shall pass. In the meantime, take things one day at a time – or one hour at a time, whatever works best for you. We offer a range of services to help you reach both academic and professional goals. Contact us today to learn more!

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