The current lockdown can be seen either as time wasted from research, or time that can be used productively in other areas.

If your work relies on laboratory experiments, then yes, your research is going to have a temporary setback. This is unavoidable. Other disciplines however will not be affected as much.

For laboratory science, now is the time to focus on writing. Write up research articles whose experiments are complete, or work on a new review article.

Grant writing is also an option. You can focus on completing grants you have always been meaning to apply for or you can also do extensive research to find new grants.

Having a routine

During quarantine, routine is your best friend. Nothing else will aid your productivity as much as having a stable schedule and knowing exactly when a task is supposed to be done.

What about working hours? Now is the time to enjoy the flexibility that the academic environment didn’t offer you. As long as you find that it helps you be more productive, you can choose your own schedule.

Taking the time to work out

Physical exercise is a great way to reduce stress and has been proven to promote wellbeing and focus. If working out is not your thing, there are other options that will increase your overall performance.

Mindfulness, meditation, or time in nature are all popular activities that academics use to focus on self-care.

Creating a work-friendly environment at home

Working among distractions is guaranteed to damage your research output. When working from home, it’s important to find a place that is safe from noise and distractions. If working with kids, establishing clear schedules of work and play can help with this.

Also, it is advisable to have a proper desk and chair to work on. Anything else will only be a temporary solution that can quickly result in shoulder, arm and neck pain.

Focus on periods of deep work

A concept popularized by Cal Newport, Deep Work consists of setting large, uninterrupted blocks of time for deep, creative work. It is the type of work that ignores e-mails, calls or anything not important and focuses on high-level thinking and output.

It typically happens early in the day but depending on your personality or home situation you could choose to do deep work later in the day.

Keep your e-mail inbox to 0

One of the most important productivity rules, during any period, is to not use your e-mail inbox as your task manager/to-do list. Make sure that all e-mails are filed appropriately and that new tasks go to a separate task manager or calendar application.

Using the above tips you are guaranteed to be productive during COVID-19. What could you start working on that would be beneficial for your research in the long-term?

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