How have TalTech lecturers adapted to the current lockdown situation? Have their work and private life been influenced, and what would they advise to others in order to make their days more productive? This material is prepared together with Ringa Raudla, a Professor of Fiscal Governance, and Javad Keypour, an early-stage researcher from the Faculty of Law. Have a glimpse into their lockdown routine and learn more about their personalities.
How is the current lock-down situation influencing your work and personal life?
Ringa: In terms of social contacts, it has influenced it drastically. I am taking the social distancing guidelines very seriously. I have not physically met with any friends or family members for more than a month. Instead, I try to stay in touch with them via virtual means. I also avoid going to the stores as much as possible; instead, I order everything online. In terms of work, I have worked at home a lot in the past, so the adjustment was not that radical. For doing my research — especially for writing articles — I have always preferred to do it at home, in complete silence, uninterrupted. Now, I am also doing almost everything else from home.
Javad: Well, I usually adapt myself to the situations and changes. Although it was difficult to stay home at first, nowadays I try to do my ordinary research job from home. I have missed seeing colleagues and friends of course and my habit of walking in the old town during the weekend!
How different is your typical day right now?
Ringa: In my opinion, the key to having a productive day in the home office is to have a structured day. At the start of each day, I divide it into 1–2 hour blocks of different activities: writing grant proposals, doing research, reviewing articles for journals, administrative activities, teaching or preparing classes, giving feedback to students about their theses etc. In between the slots, I also answer all the incoming emails, listen to music, and try to get some exercise (yoga and walking). In the evenings, I use the time to stay in touch with family and friends, read the news, watch some Netflix and shows by comedians like Bill Maher, Trevor Noah, Seth Meyers etc.
In addition, we have active communication going on with the members of Estonian Young Academy of Sciences (which I am a member of), where we discuss the pandemic, the projections for the future, its implications, possible measures to curtail it, the experiences of other countries and so on. We share news, research and opinions. Our president communicates directly with the government, so the ideas of academics can also reach the practitioners.
Javad: Less talking, more reading and listening! In addition, I have been trying to participate in webinars more than I used to, and actually, the number of such events has grown in current conditions. Particularly, the oil market has been severely influenced by COVID-19 and this turned the oil market analyzing to the top of news, yet again. Since this is one of my main fields of interest, I have to follow the relevant news, updates, and reports and this means there are many things to do even in the lockdown.
Students and e-learning
Ringa: So far, my students have adjusted very well. In the case of our PhD seminar, in fact, we have even more participants in the Zoom meetings than we had in the physical setting in the past. So that has been a welcome development and we are planning to implement a hybrid version of the seminar (part virtual, part physical), so that more people can attend.
Since some of our students are actively involved in dealing with the crisis as part of their work tasks and have increased workloads, I have tried to be accommodating with the deadlines for assignments etc. I also understand that many students’ productivity may be affected by them having to take care of their kids at home.
Javad: Fortunately, almost all those who used to participate in the class are doing so on the e-platform. I still have a few students who ask questions or actively interact, which is a good sign! We are following our ordinary plan, also when it comes to giving presentations by students. So, all and all we try to keep it alive!
Ringa: What will help us through this crisis is empathy, solidarity, agility, willingness to experiment with new ways of doing things and learning from each other.
- Being disciplined and ordered in all aspects is the crucial thing nowadays. It has a significant impact on your mood and spirit, even if it doesn’t seem so.
- Stay connected with other students, university, family, etc. This will give you the motivation to fulfill your studies and assignments.
- It is a good time to read, particularly those books that you have wanted to read for a long time, but did not find time for it.
- Finally, it is critical to take care of your health both mentally and physically. There is no universal way, but you should find something that suits you personally.