tl;dr: first wave yay, second wave nay - lots of dedicated people, lots of covidiots - productive, withdrawn and for some time motivated while for the other dreary
The year is almost over and usually, in those times, its getting one more time turbulent before everybody drives home for christmas and goes through those fascinating two weeks of family wildness, seeing old friends, eventually deciding on how to spend new years’ eve and then finally enjoy the first days of the new year which I always experienced as very calm and recreative. Most likely these weeks will be not so different than one might think and yet it already feels different today: with the various restrictions due to the pandemic we are already forced to stay home a lot and there are no christmas office, no private before-christmas farewell parties and no mulled-wine stalls. Hence, I want to take this moment to think back on how I experienced this year in which the whole world experienced a global pandemic for the first time of our young digital age.
The sketched timeline helps me somewhat to reflect on the productivity or major events throughout the year. During the first covid wave I actually had quite a concentrated work on generative models for graphs which finally resulted in experiments which I for the first time could sum up quite fast. Now, in 2021, the work even got peer reviewed and with the whole process taking less than a year this was my fastest development for a scientific work which got quite close to the actual research progress frontier of the field.
DeepGG coincided heavily with the semester break which in conjunction with the first lockdown was probably a major reason why I could focus so heavily on it. The following summer was, however, very much focussed on handling a quite large amount of student teams in a Data Science Lab. During that time I prepared new research directions and worked on first ideas for formulating a “Structural Prior Hypothesis” with objects I currently call “graph themes”. With a very busy summer and several private events in August it took until autumn in which I started to re-focus heavily on new work projects. Starting in October I also participated in organizing the exercises for the Advanced Data Science course and by this now have taken the full circle over basically all courses our chair offered so far (except for “Network Science”): seminar works, Data Science Lab, Visual Analytics, Advanced Data Science.
I was lucky during that time having access to an office which was not frequently visited by much people. This helped me keeping alive some work ethics and continuing on working on my wake up schedule which is still quite late. While my productivity and work hours thus heavily increased in 2020 my sport rhythm got way more fluctuant. Quite early I started offering online courses for Kung Fu in March shortly after the first lockdown. This continued for some while with me doing up to five times sports a week but in summer I withdrew from staring into zoom screens and tried to be more outside. While this had some healthy aspects, I did not keep up with doing sports five times a week. However, I could at least meet with a small group several times a week and in September we even tried to start doing Kung Fu in our sports hall again - which was quickly shut down again when the second wave in October led us into another hard lockdown. This hit me quite hard together with late autumn and the beginning of winter resulting in getting from a quite high load of sports to almost none at all anymore and I kept going running during the last months of 2020.
Overall I noticed quite heavy fluctuations in both my productivity and the amount of sports I conducted. This was certainly influenced by some private events and the work load from teaching on which I am actually paid for. For the upcoming time I am trying to take with me the idea to work on shorter projects again. Reducing experiment and writing cycles could help me more in reflection and reduce the fluctuation of very high work loads with phases of almost no feeling of getting forward.