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Challenges and tips in online PhD life during COVID-19 pandemic

Yuta Suzuki
February 07, 2022

Challenges and tips in online PhD life during COVID-19 pandemic


Yuta Suzuki

February 07, 2022

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    Yuta Suzuki
    Department of Materials Structure Science
    Ono Lab. D4

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  2. About me
    • ླ໦༤ଠ ʢYuta SUZUKIʣ https://resnant.github.io
    • D4 student in Ono Lab., SOKENDAI, Department of Materials Structure Science
    • Research Interest: Understanding materials with machine learning
    • Machine learning application for materials characterization
    • Data mining for materials experiments data
    • Since March, I’ve been working from home (WFH).
    • Background:
    • I live alone in Tokyo.
    • I'm at KEK about once a week.
    • Most of my studies rely on computational experiments.
    • It can be performed on computers.
    • I’m involved in several collaborative research projects
    • Online collaboration is essential.

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  3. Typical challenges in online PhD work
    • Health issues
    • Productivity issue

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  4. We need to expect and prepare for the tough situations:
    • Mental health
    • Getting mentally drained
    • Feeling isolated
    • Sleeping troubles (oversleep and insomnia)
    • Physical health
    • Lack of exercise
    • Addiction for caffeine and alcohol
    • Eye-strain

    Challenges in online PhD work
    Staying healthy in working remotely: main challenge for us

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  5. • Difficult to collaborate
    • It takes more time to solve questions and share ideas than usual.
    • Hard to keep productivity
    • Can't concentrate on study as usual
    • Can't finish the work and overwork until late

    Challenges in online PhD work
    Staying productive: 2nd priority, but important

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  6. Tips

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  7. • Adhere to the normal circadian rhythm.
    • Don’t get messed up your body clock
    • Soak up the sun.
    • Take an online coffee break with your family and friends.
    • Do some strength training and stretching.
    • There are many helpful resources on YouTube.
    • Have time for hobbies.

    Some tips to avoid health issues
    Stay organized

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  8. • To focus on:
    • Organize your work space
    • Structure your daily schedule
    • Do a single task at once
    • Avoid multitasking
    • To collaborate your research groups:
    • Don't hesitate to ask for help from your mentor and lab mate.
    • Share your todo and questions with your collaborators.
    • This will also helpful for your mentors.
    • They can give you advices easily.
    • This helps you avoid worrying alone about trivial points.

    Some tips to stay productive

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  9. Some tips for staying productive
    Visualization is always useful
    Focus Keeper - Time Management
    Put what you want to do on your calendar:

    visualize your time budget
    Use handy apps to record and visualize your efforts

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  10. Some tips for staying productive
    Collaborate online with useful tools
    Share your todo list with your collaborators

    (highly recommended)
    Stay in touch with collaborators closely in messengers.

    Don't hesitate to ask for help from your mentor!
    e.g. Dropbox Paper, Trello, GitLab

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  11. • Small questions are hard to ask someone on messengers.
    • Difficulty in communicating via text messages
    • I realized the importance of verbal nuances
    • Lack of daily coffee break chatter
    • We can't exchange small ideas with my lab-mates
    • No networking opportunity
    • Use offline meeting opportunity to talk about what's important.
    • Most problems can be solved in online meetings. 

    In offline meetings, let's focus on the other issues.

    But, still it’s challenging…
    I’m struggling with difficulties such as:

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  12. • Stay organized in time and space
    • Stay connected with other people
    • Have a break, eat, sleep

    #we_are_in_this_together #beat_covid19
    • Have a question? Looking someone to have coffee with?
    • Please contact me!
    • @resnant (Twitter)
    [email protected]
    • I’m seeking a climbing-mate! 🧗
    • Let’s standing on the shoulders of giants!

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