Written By: Scholar Speak Team

As a part of UNT’s evolving response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the UNT library is committed to helping faculty and students to access the resources and services they need for their teaching and learning. The drastic change for the AskUs team is moving to provide virtual reference services only to library users via email, texting, and live chat. Just use AskUs to let us know your needs. During this challenging time, Student Engagement Librarian, Jenn, and the AskUs team would like to share their challenges and tips to adapt to such a new lifestyle change.

Perhaps the most striking difference for me and the hardest to overcome is the new realness I feel for the digital divide. The divide was something of an abstract concept to me before the pandemic. I had an awareness of the impact of income inequality on education from my experiences working with low income and rural students at UNT and other academic libraries. But that knowledge seems vague and cloudy compared to the piercingly clear picture I have now.
Those who relied on the library to bridge the divide were certainly there but safely in my peripheral. Their basic needs were met with our library services and materials, so I only really “saw” them as the faces of those I helped each day and the numbers in our annual reports. Now, they have my full attention as we all struggle to face the awful truth that we could not keep them from being swallowed by the divide. It is unsettling for me to be in a position where I can no longer help everyone. My only hope is that we use this new awareness of the digital divide to remake our libraries into centers of learning that are truly accessible for all students.
Adapting to a new lifestyle, working remotely, and taking full-time online classes has been a challenge. To remain focused, motivated, and stay home. Here are some tips that I am trying my best to follow:
  • To eat right and stay healthy, which has helped me to stay focused and make the college experience more productive.
  • Know what my resources are and develop an appropriate plan.
  • Develop new hobbies such as gardening, sketching, cooking, and still looking for more.
Lastly, a motto: “You can still make something beautiful and something powerful out of a really bad situation.” by Gabe Grunewald.
I live in a tiny studio apartment, so as I’m sure you can imagine, suddenly having to spend all my work, school, and leisure time at home has been a challenge. One thing I was already doing before which has become even more important in the past few weeks is to set aside different spaces for different activities. I try to always eat in my kitchen area, work and study at my desk, etc. This makes it easier to follow a routine, focus on my work when I need to, and fully relax during my free time. Creating that separation also helps to make the small space feel bigger, which is much-needed right now.
I’ve slowly adapted to this new lifestyle of doing everything at home by trying to create a sense of normalcy through the routine. This mainly involves sticking to healthy habits such as cleaning my space regularly and cooking full meals. Mentally, reminding myself that I still have school and work responsibilities and that I’m lucky to be able to stay home pushes me to take care of myself. When being at home all day inevitably gets boring, I look for excitement in activities such as exploring new recipes or doing puzzles. Even simple tasks like rearranging my desk or bookshelf can be an adventure. In times of uncertainty, I often feel like I’ve lost track of time, but I find comfort and reality in these routine tasks and new hobbies.
I am the kind of person who prefers staying home even during breaks but having to stay home for classes and work has been a challenge. This may be because the choice of actually going outside has been stripped away as it is rather unsafe. It has been challenging to focus on studies and work from home, where I usually just de-stress and play videogames. To remain productive and keep a sense of normalcy while staying home all day, I follow a routine to ensure both study and work time are well managed. Things that have helped me during this situation are talking to my mom on the phone and having her walk me through her recipes while I miserably fail to recreate her dishes, learning to play guitar and of course, playing videogames!
Here are my personal tips to effectively study or work from home during the COVID-19 crisis. First, have a dedicated workspace in the home to help avoid distractions. Even if you live in a small apartment, it can be a corner of a living room or bedroom. Second, create a to-do list and prioritize tasks to remain focused and help with procrastination. In addition, taking short breaks is a great way to refresh yourself during the long work/study day. I usually use my break time to do a house chore. It is a good way to help myself reduce stress. At the end of the day, I video call my family back home and cook for the next day. Last and the most importantly, keep your spirits up!
The most challenging aspect of this change has been trying to balance working remotely, completing homework, and helping my toddler understand why mom has to work sometimes. This is what has helped me deal with the situation.
  • Communication- As someone who has never submitted an assignment late, it has been difficult to let my professors know that I need an extension. I have always worked to maintain a balance between my professional life and my parent life, so it has been difficult to now have my toddler yelling in the background of a Zoom meeting. I have pushed myself to communicate with my boss and professors about my situation and am fortunate that everyone is so understanding.
  • Staying in the moment-Since work-life and home-life have collided, I have found myself more often thinking about my kid at work and thinking about work when I am with my kid. This leads to me feeling like I am not doing either right. To combat this, I am trying to stay in the moment and focus at the task at hand. Though difficult, this has helped me.
I personally find it helpful to know I am not alone in this, and I hope other parents in this situation will find me sharing my experience helpful as well.

UNT Libraries and the AskUs team are here for you. For information about access to resources and services, please visit our Continuity of Library Services guide.

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