As the rest of the world, the total lock-down due to the SARS-CoVID-19 virus has subsided all non-essential laboratorial work to zero. The NOCI-researchers are confined to their homes to carry out the work that will eventually lead to the replacement of animal studies. Naturally, a researcher without a LAF-hood is like a barber without a scissor, and everyone takes on their own course. Some take their opportunity to (re)analyze data from prior experiments. Another option is to write code to decrease analysis time in the future. Writing post-lockdown experimental plans can smooth your transition back into the lab. And of course, the amount of papers being written, published and reviewed during the lock-down will be immense.

However, working from home can be heaven for some people and hell for others. The latter have become very creative in making their own library-like environment at home, creating as little distractions as possible and still finding themselves working only a couple of hours per day. Others are perfectly fine with doing some work in the garden, from the couch, or even out of their bed (ergonomics aside). Productivity and mental health when working from home rely heavily on one’s personality. Some feel an increased pressure to work as hard (or harder) as they could from their office, and others take the opportunities to take some ‘mental health’ breaks during the day. Like me.

I have found myself postponing writing my theoretical review for about half a year. I knew from my internships that the best way for me to write is to lock myself up at home, instead of writing from the office. However, experiments continued to seduce me coming to the lab. The lock-down has enabled me to finish writing my review. Also, I am more prone to go on short walks between the writing, which enhances my creative processes. Even taking a printed version of my writing to the park really improves criticism on my own writing.

Talking to (NOCI-)colleagues is crucial for finding your isolation routine. Looking forward to the Thank-God-It’s-Friday-borrel is actively giving me structure in my week. Exchange tips, activities, stories, or just talking non-research-stuff can help finding your own quarantine routine. Everyone struggles, but no one needs to struggle alone. Talking to cats, dogs or even inanimate objects can also help greatly, but please find help when they start talking back.

Jeroen Stein NOCI PhD-student LUMC