learning to work from home in a pandemic | graduate job

2021, career

Hello!

I’ve not written about the graduate job market or ‘post graduate life’ since I finished my undergraduate degree in 2018, since then I’ve finished a Post-Graduate Certificate in Professional Development Planning, a MSc in Digital Media Production and I actually got a job! Two months after my masters dissertation hand in I’m actually working!

As we’re living in another nationwide lockdown in the UK, my work has been exclusively from home and navigating mentally reassigning my home environment into a work space as well as trying to figure out a new workload is a challenge and a half. I know personally it takes me a little while to adapt to change and figuring all this out virtually is challenging for anyone who’s had to adapt how they work.

There’s a lot to figure out – not only a new group of people and procedures and responsibilities, but doing all this in the place I’ve been spending days and days on the sofa since my dissertation was handed in. It sounds easy enough in theory – all the things you usually have to do without the commute to sit in an office with less than comfy chairs, probably at least one person who annoys you a little bit and where it’s not socially acceptable to wear a blanket  cape when it’s freezing outside. Working from home should be almost fun with the fridge 15 steps away and no one to judge you for it, right?

By now, anyone that’s had to work from home knows it’s so much more than that – for me, my downstairs living room and kitchen area is all open plan. If I really wanted to I could probably dive bomb the sofa from my desk and I have snacks within arms reach basically everywhere. Today I tried working at my make-up vanity upstairs and I found a lovely little cosy nook to sit in, but the bed was two paces away and it was challenging enough getting out of it without the temptation to get back in.

It’s an entirely different mindset that you don’t very often have to get into at home. Being that switched on in an environment that’s usually associated with slowing down and relaxing? It’s why some students are finding online learning so hard – because it’s not their school environment.

I’d like to think it goes without saying that it doesn’t mean I think that offices should be open and kids should be in school, I’m not saying that at all, I’m just saying it’s a difficult transition to figure out.

Starting a new job without being able to meet any of my colleagues properly, separating my work and home environments and sometimes feeling a little lost with no one to turn to is strange, but at the end of it all I’m grateful to have a job – after my undergraduate experience of applying for over a hundred jobs and not getting anything and then worrying about being able to get a job at all when the job market is so minimal in a pandemic, the fact I have any work is lucky and I really do feel lucky to have it.

If anything, the thing I’m finding more difficult than working from home is being ‘switched on’ for 8 hours a day, being awake and functioning at 9am (anxiety ruined my sleep schedule) and navigating not being a student. I’m grateful that I can roll out of bed at 8.45am and start dinner as soon as I finish at 5pm (or lounge on the sofa before I shove something in the oven). Today my fiancé had a day off and I got to pop downstairs for cheek kisses and the occasional cuddle (don’t tell my boss) but it was weird that he had a day off and I was working because that hasn’t happened for about a year?

So my tips from working for home after four days of doing it – stay hydrated, have a to do list to try and stay focused, plan your lunch because half an hour for a break isn’t actually very long, set an alarm for the end of the day if it helps and today my phone popped up with a thing called ‘focus mode’ and it essentially blocks a bunch of apps during work hours and it’s a little annoying for procrastinating but good for not procrastinating.

And at the end of the day, we’re not working from home – we’re at home, trying to work in a pandemic and that’s not the same.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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I HATE working from home

2020, lifestyle, mental health, student

Hello!

One thing I’ve been really struggling with in the latter half of lockdown so far (12 weeks and counting!) is working from home – after the initial boost of getting four assignments handed in on the same day, my motivation hit rock bottom – the two that were due the following week were a struggle and then I took a two week extension on the project that was due the week after (but with the extra time my partner-in-crime and Software Wizard Agata and I made this bomb animation called ‘Life After Lockdown‘).

But now that all my semester 2 deadlines are done and the only thing left is 5 months of looming dissertation deadlines, I feel even less motivated than I did before.

In my time on my undergraduate degree, I worked really hard to make my home a ‘work free environment’ – I would be on campus or in my favourite cafe (oh The Artisan, how I miss you) by 9am most days and would only really come home for dinner, at which point I would cook, play games with my boyfriend or do whatever not-work activities I wanted to do in my home environment.

I carried this over into my masters degree as much as possible – working on campus, making the most of group work whilst we were physically together and using the facilities, equipment and the computers that were better than mine.

Now that I’m facing doing my entire dissertation project at home? Every time I sit down to work on it, I feel this ball in my chest and I just can’t make progress – sitting down to read or write or learn more new software (because god knows the course didn’t actually prepare me for anything) is just so overwhelming. But I can’t afford to give myself a few weeks because I have other dissertation related deadlines before that where I have to document my progress, so I have to have progress to document.

It’s worth mentioning that I’m fortunate that I don’t have to balance a real job type work alongside my dissertation – many part-time students do and most people working from home at this point will be doing ‘proper’ work that they get paid for, not working on assignments, but the work from home struggle is universal regardless of what type of work.

A quote I see floating around a lot is ‘you’re not working from home, you’re at home, trying to work in a global crisis’ and I find that comforting when I’m finding it so difficult… but it doesn’t make the work any easier and the work still needs doing.

Something else I find difficult is working while my boyfriend is home – in our ‘normal life’, he’s either away working on live sports broadcasts around the country or at base 10-5, so if I wasn’t at uni I’d have the house to myself. Now, we’re in the same room all day every day because he spends most of his time playing games and my little office set up is in our open plan ground floor. Somehow over 12 weeks I haven’t got used to him talking on headset to his game friends and I just find it so much more difficult to concentrate when he’s here.

Sometimes it’s not even that he’s doing anything or saying anything – I can see the game on the TV even if he’s muted it, I just can’t work while he’s in the room. This isn’t something I can do anything about, but I’m more nervous about him potentially going back to work and being exposed to the virus so… there’s no winning!

I’m trying to be gentle with myself – beating myself up isn’t going to get the work done any quicker and it’s not going to motivate me at all.

Does confessing how much I’m struggling working from home really help anything? Not particularly, but I’m sure there are lots of people who’ve read everyone’s ‘working from home’ blog posts and watched all the videos and still not become the Working From Home Queens they hoped to be. Sometimes it’s reassuring to know that other people are still struggling, so I hope to provide that.

Starting is always the worst bit – once I’ve started and figured out what I’m doing more I’ll probably get into it but right now, it makes me want to cry a little bit so I’m going to do everything else on my to do list until there’s nothing else left.

Small progress is still progress!

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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