We are experiencing a new reality for this generation: Coronavirus has come and many companies decided to send their employees home. Thus, as programmers, it was not supposed to feel this different from being in the office: we are all prepared to chat anytime, we have tuned the way we communicate with our team when remote and we feel it can be very productive having focus to concentrate in one task at a time. I risk to say I was even a bit glad with the perspective of coding uninterruptedly and the diminishing on time spent on meetings.
Ergh, that is not what happened until now.
News are reporting calamities, people feel freaked out. Our family members sometimes worry too much and transmit a lot of panic, other times they are too much relaxed, leaving their home in totally avoidable situations. You are in your house, dealing with tasks you are not used to (like cooking, cleaning or preparing your own coffee all day long). Things get messy, you have to set a cozy spot to work on if you do not have any. All non-critical health concerns are postponed, as you are not able to go out to see a doctor, continue some treatment or do exams. These factors brings anxiety, and it mounts everyday with the news claiming there is no expectation of when this situation will be over.
Well, it is important to say that the correlation of what we are dealing with now and a regular remote work is not that high as many think.
If you had the opportunity to work remotely in a normal world status, you can feel the differences: first of all, it was a chosen activity and you had time to prepare psychologically for it. It was not something imposed unexpectedly by fear. When I work remotely usually my day starts with some exercise outside or at the gym, I have all services available so I can decide how to follow my day and I relax in social encounters when the job is done. Now, I just feel I have nowhere to go but keep working all day over. Getting stuck with your job is not exactly a dream. Sure I can have some fun caged home, but it is not about that. The very first experience of confinement is not pleasant and you cannot appreciate your spare time at home the same way because it is not a decision.
By now I developed some strategies to feel better (what directly causes me to produce more):
- Be cool. Do not give attention to the anxiety that rises in your chest. When you feel this way, try to reach what is bringing this feeling and take your mind in the opposite direction.
- Do not force to be productive. It will come sometime, relax. Try to set things up for the days to come. Stock up on things that are really necessary to you, buy whatever you are needing now, and most important, try not to get into this idea that everybody is ok and being able to work normally and you are an exception to that. Everybody is struggling with their own bad feelings now. Opening up about those things to your colleagues will get you to feel included.
- Exercise. There is a movement on physical educators to give remote classes, and a lot of apps to practice sports at home. Or simply you can put some music on your living room and dance! If you are close to any kids, play with them as you were 5. For me this is the most difficult task, but it makes the larger difference.
- Define a routine. Waking up too late, having no time for meals or even to stop working can mess a lot with your body and your mind.
- Connect. Specially with yourself. What do you like to do? What plans did you have that were waiting for an opportunity like that? How can you have fun with your friends? How can you feel closer to your family? What will make you feel calmer? Go for it, reach those positive things.
Let's keep it up, good days are about to come and we have to be prepared for them as well.