By Hafiyya Malik, Electrical & Computer Engineering Ambassador

Let’s not kid anyone, the sudden switch to moving everything online was not an easy thing. For someone who does not go a day without going outside, it was extremely hard to just stay inside one place and focus on your work. I, for one, is one of those individuals who does not even like to eat in the room. Especially when you live in a beautiful metropolitan city like Boston, it is hard to just stay indoors.

Charles River Esplanade
Fall Foliage in Boston
Boston Skyline
Boston Duck Tours

For me, every place has its importance and I designate specific tasks to every place. Before this lockdown, I had a very specific routine. I would wake up early in the morning, go to Northeastern (spending most of my day in Snell Library), take classes, go to Marino, eventually heading home at night.

Northeastern University
Snell Library
Marino Center

At home, I would generally end my day with a simple dinner while watching a sitcom, like any other graduate student who lives alone. As soon as the lockdown began, I took the best decision and moved to my brother’s place. I say it’s one of the best decisions because now I was not confined in a room, rather in a big house with more people and kids (kinda lucky here). At this point, getting accustomed to listening to all the lectures online and working on my thesis was still a little difficult. I am truly glad that my professor was very understanding and did not mind my slow progress.

Moreover, it was just the beginning of this pandemic in US, so I would get distracted very often with all the news. I would spend more hours on reading about COVID-19 and the way its numbers were increasing, than studying for my course or working on my thesis. For the first ten days, I was hardly able to focus on my work and would spend most of my time worrying about how long the lockdown will last. It was this time that I had the least productivity and I was not feeling good about myself.

After this short period of time, I realized that I need to improve my attitude towards this situation. So, I took some decisions and stuck to them. Once again, I set up separate spaces inside the house and designated specific tasks to them. I had a separate space to work on my thesis with some of my lab apparatus, a separate space to study for my course and a separate space to workout.

In addition to this, I also started cooking more often and learning new cuisines. I also used to go out for a small walk every day. I made a routine and tried sticking to it. I brought my planner in use once again and started planning my whole day the night before. It all started with getting up early in the morning and following the plan for the day. Soon, I started feeling good about myself and was able to increase my productivity. Most importantly, I limited my time to read about COVID-19 to 30 minutes every day. Every time I would see a fascinating post about COVID-19 on the social media, I would just lock the screen and put my phone aside. Eventually, it reduced my use of social media, enhancing my productivity, another win-win.

Two months in the lockdown, I am now settled and content with what I have. I do wish for things to get back to normal whenever the time and the situation about this pandemic is right, but I don’t wish it just because I am bored of sitting at home all day.

I do take some days off this busy routine, where I just relax, cook, watch movies and shows, mostly on the weekends. During the weekdays, I try to focus more on work. In addition to my tasks, I started learning keyboards, registered for some free online courses by Harvard, completely different to my major only to diversify my skillset. I also started practicing mindfulness and meditation. To be honest, I am now at peace with myself and with everything that’s going on around me, and in the world.

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