What I wish I knew when I started working from home
As COVID-19 sweeps the planet, politicians and business leaders have been taking measures to prevent transmission, including working from home.
For the tech community, working from home is nothing new. It takes many shapes depending on the teams you have to interact with, but now we have a whole new group of people who are discovering the nuances.
Here are some of the things I wish I knew when I first started working from home years ago. A few things that help make the day go smoother.
Keep a morning routine
The definition of work-time and home-time is the first stumbling block for new “work-from-homers.”
Eating breakfast, taking a shower, enjoying that wonderful delight of morning coffee… whatever your routine is, do it before starting your work.
It helps define when you are suppose to be on the clock and gets your mind into the game.
Without it, procrastination and distractions can creep in. Especially at home where they are plentiful and you have to be self-disciplined without someone looking over your shoulder.
Music, not TV/YouTube/videos
My work time is defined by music. When I’m not on calls, the music helps me define the time and space as work-mode.
Not only does the music help make the day more enjoyable, but videos specifically have a way of splitting your attention.
Movies and shows have a narrative that halfway distracts you. Even if you’ve watched Harry Potter a million times, there are points where you want to take a peek at the action (Dumbledore vs Voldemort Duel), and you’re partly aware of the action happening on TV.
Turn it off. Music doesn’t have that distraction and keeps you productive.
Get out of the house
Cabin fever is real. Even during the coronavirus scare, it’s important to not get cooped up.
That doesn’t mean jumping into a mosh pit of people, but take a walk around the block at lunch. Get moving, get some sun. It’s important to refresh your mind and not stare at a screen all day.
Know when to turn off
Just like your morning routine helps you get your head in the game, know when to turn off. You set boundaries for yourself to do your best work, but your co-workers and clients need it too.
Especially in the US, being available all the time can be the social norm. Set a time when you are no longer “online.” It doesn’t have to be all at once, but having a 6pm shutdown time and last email check can help you keep peace of mind that things are taken care of and you’re able to move on without FOMO or guilt.
Better habits and new routines
Your mental state is being tested when working from home. From family distractions or just a break in a routine, it’s important to set some boundaries for yourself and create habits to make the most of working from home. And hopefully these habits keep with you when returning to the office.