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How to Work During a Pandemic

Updated: Oct 16, 2020

By: Marlon McKay

In the past few months, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced people to change how they work and go through their day to day lives. Many businesses are opening later and closing earlier than we are used to, and, we cannot socialize with our friends as freely as we once did. Instead of physically going into the office for work and classes for school, a good majority of us are now working entirely online. These are changes we need to get used to, at least for the time being. Some of us were able to make the transfer easily, while for others it has been difficult.

This year all of my classes are virtual, and are mostly asynchronous. Along with my classes, I am the editor-in-chief for my literary and art magazine on campus and also an RA. With everything being virtual, I honestly believed it would be easier to balance my responsibilities on my own time, and I would undoubtedly be on top of my workload.

I could not have been farther from the truth.

Three weeks into the semester one of my professors emailed the class about a test that we had that week covering six chapters. This was one of my asynchronous classes and I had forgotten I was enrolled, so of course I had not done any of the required work. I managed to complete all the assignments on time and passed the test, but it was an extremely close call and could have turned out much worse for me. I also started to slack and fall behind in my other classes as well, so I made a list to help me stay up to date with everything for this semester.

  • Set alarms and reminders: Throughout my school life I have gotten used to my teachers and professors telling me when assignments are due or reminding me if I forgot about the assignment altogether. Now I write down all my assignments and set calendar reminders to tell me the day they are due. I also set alarms for specific assignments to notify me to start working on them, at allotted times rather than telling myself I will get started later with no intentions to do so. This helps me maintain consistency so I don’t end up in a similar situation. I also schedule my free time so that I make sure I am not working myself into exhaustion, and have the freedom to relax and take a breath from everything.

  • Never work in my room: Working virtually means I do all my work and classes in my room. This alone is not a problem, but I can get easily distracted by my phone, my food, my bed, and more. I have freedom in my room that makes me feel like I do not need to settle down and do work. For me, hiding or locking my phone never works because I can always get up to go find it, or sometimes need my phone for important calls or the work itself. So, what I have tended to do was go to a public place, socially distanced of course, like the park or library so I have other people there. Having others around helps me to focus on my work. To me it would feel out of place to be surrounded by people doing their work and I am the only one not doing it.

  • Communicate: With everything being online it is still easy to become overwhelmed with the amount of work. The best thing to do is to communicate, and communication can mean a multitude of things. Communicate with your professors and bosses to make sure you know what the assignment is and what time it needs to be done. You also need to tell them how your work schedule is and other responsibilities you might have. Communicate with friends and family about your stress and frustrations. It is dangerous to keep negative feelings inside for too long. Friends and family can help calm you down and be an outlet. Finally, communicate with yourself. Before you take on responsibilities make sure you are aware of the work you need to do and know what you can feasibly handle.

These are just a few of the things I use to help me get through this pandemic. This list may help you or you may already use it yourself. I just want to share it with you as an opportunity to make a difference.

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