Time Management and Self-Care during COVID-19 Lockdown

The world is fighting a relentless battle against the COVID-19 pandemic – most offices and businesses are closed and schooling is now virtual. With the line between academic, professional and personal spaces blurring, many are finding it difficult to juggle deadlines, homeschooling, online lectures, household chores, and attending to family.

Having no physical classroom space to go to, no face-to-face lecture meetings, no lively discussions about a class project with course-mates, the typical day looks rather bleak, and for many students, productivity might drop to an all-time low. However, there are steps you can take to care for yourself and use your time productively.

Here are some tips on how to effectively manage your time during this lockdown:

  1. Set a schedule

Try and maintain some semblance of structure from the pre-quarantine days. Wake up and go to bed around the same time, eat meals, shower, adapt your exercise regimen, and get out of your PJ’s as you normally do before the lockdown.

Have a calendar to keep track of your daily activities. Your calendar should include days and time. Make an attempt to stick to your daily schedule by setting an alarm so you do not spend more than the allocated time for each activity. This way, you will be able to stay on track.

  1. Avoid multitasking and micro-tasking

Try not to perform more than one task or activity at a time. Many people think they can do multiple things at once but there are downsides to it. When you multitask or micro-task, assignments take longer to get done because each time you come back to an assignment, you have to get familiar with it, find your spot and remember what you were going to do next. You are also more likely to make mistakes and remember less because switching between tasks tires out the brain and you’re less able to commit what you’re learning to long-term memory.

  1. Trade your strategies for new ones

Look for ways to adapt your usual habits or form new ones. For example, if you usually study in the library, ask yourself what kind of environment helps you study. See if you can recreate that at home. Maybe it’s studying in a chair, rather than on your bed or couch, or moving to a new spot when you change tasks. If you feel you need background noise, consider a white noise app.

The lockdown has led to cancelled travel plans, indefinite isolation, panic over scarce re-sources and information and this overload could be a recipe for unchecked anxiety and feelings of isolation. Please remember, this will pass. Reframe “I am stuck inside” to “I can finally focus on my home and myself”.

In your best interest, avoid obsessing over endless coronavirus coverage. Choose only certain credible websites like cdc.gov for a limited amount of time each day.

With all the uncertainly happening outside your home, keep the inside organized, predictable and clean. Setting up mental zones for daily activities can be helpful to organize your day. For example, try not to eat in bed or work on the sofa – just as before, eat at the kitchen table and work at your desk. Loosening these boundaries just muddles your routine and can make the day feel very long.

The lockdown has led to lots of free time for many. Are you one of them? With this newfound time, why not do something special? For example, you can start a daily journal to jot down thoughts and feelings to reflect on later or take a walk every day at 4 pm. Having something special during this time will help you look forward to each new day. You can also invest your free time in improving your skills or learning new ones. Online course platforms like Coursera, edX, Udacity, Udemy, etc. offer a variety of courses that you can choose from. Some of these courses are affiliated to universities. Thus, these might be certified courses that you can include in your CV. So explore them now!

Remember, this is temporary and things will get back to normal. Until then, take a deep breath, do your best, get some rest, and wash your hands!