PE&RC in times of COVID-19

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PE&RC in times of COVID-19

Tips and tricks to tackle challenges

As the corona pandemic continues to increase its impact on our life and well-being, it can become difficult to keep a life balance. Here are some suggestions that may help you create a new normal in these strange times. 

These are unprecedented times. We are dealing with stress and concerns about the situation of our loved ones, the future and working from home with children, roommates and other distractions. A lot of us feel the pressure of work expectations in these surrealistic times. Note that no one expects you to perform as normal, read that again; no one expects you to perform as normal. We are all doing the best we can and that is enough for now!

We are bombarded with all kinds of news via TV, newpapers, social media, family and friends. Make sure you get your news from the right channels. A good start is the website of the Dutch government, here you will find the latest news and also transcripts of the speeches of prime minister Mark Rutte and the King.

The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) is also a good source for advice and information. This organisation provides advice to doctors, laboratories and municipal health services (GGDs) on tackling the virus in the Netherlands. You can find detailed information on the COVID-19 virus on the RIVM website (English version). They also have a FAQ page you can dive in to. This page is also available in other languages.

Being confined to the house, especially if you live alone, can be very isolating. This time is a great opportunity to use the vision, experience and ideas of other PE&RC members to find new ways of addressing issues you might have in your work/life balance. It doesn't always have to be about work, you can also enjoy a cup of coffee together to vent and laugh at the situation. If you are interested in participating in such a chat group, let us know through the sign up form at the bottom of this page, and we will set you up with your own virtual chat group.

A number of PhD and Postdoc candidates are worried about the potential delay as a consequence of the Corona pandemic. At this stage it is not clear yet how this will be tackled and how all the individual and unique situations will be handled. But, if this is of concern to you, contact your supervisor(s)/superior and discuss it with them as they may be able to take away your concerns. Do note that all parties involved will do their best to see how this issue of delay in the PhD programme can be solved. 

Also during this time you are always welcome to contact the PhD programme coordinators for advice, we are here for you! Please don't hesitate to contact us.

Contact details:

Dr Claudius van de Vijver  Dr Lennart Suselbeek  Dr Amber Heijboer Naomi Zweerus 
 +31 (0) 317 485116  +31 (0) 317 485426


Make a plan for the week and schedule your day. Plan when you start working but also when you are going to finish. Regarding the things you need/want to do, make a clear list of things you want/need to do. Then make a SMART plan of action (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound). We are easily distracted and things may take more time than they normally do (e.g. through bad internet connection, chats with others who need support etc). Therefore, in your planning of the day, plan in time to relax, interact and also the fact that things may take more time than usual.

Also note, one small action is better than no action. So, if taking action is a challenge for you, write down what small steps you could take. When you start small, progress builds over time. Don’t think small is bad, small steps are better than none!   

Other strategies

  • Stop doing what does not serve you! Do you feel more worried or stressed when you check the news/twitter/facebook etc? Quit the habit by (re)moving the application from your screen or your favourites. If you cannot resist, you might want to install a website blocker. Some software also allows you to do this for a set time of the day. This can help you to stick to your office hours and not get lost in hours of scrolling.
  • Take a shower in the morning and get dressed the way you would go to the office or the lab, this helps to get you ready for the workday.
  • Try the Pomodoro technique: This method aims to help on focusing and works with short intervals of doing one task, followed by regular, but limited breaks. There are also apps you can install on your desktop that time your intervals (e.g., Be Focused, (check your application provider))
  • Missing the office atmosphere? Set up a day-long zoom session with your colleagues and keep it running in the background. If a full day sounds too scary, start with 2 h sessions and increase the time span if this boosts your motivation.
  • Change the perspective: move around during your breaks or even rearrange your desk every now and then. - By the end of the day, make a (mental) not about what you have achieved and nominate one personal highlight. Forget about everything you could have done. What matters is that you have accomplished something. Also taking care of yourself belongs to this category!


We hope our tips can help you along the way. If you have any other tips that might help someone out, please let us know so we can post it here.
We are all in this together so let's help each other the best we can! 



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