Since Coronavirus hit and lockdown started I got stuck working from home - as did many of us. I used to find it hard to work from home as I easily lost focus or got bored. Here are a few things I find useful and help me occasionally even enjoy remote work.
It's really easy to become one of those who work in pyjamas and don't actually crawl out of bed until 5 minutes before work time. Don't get me wrong, if that floats your boat, go for it but I personally know I am up for a terrible day if that's how it starts.
So I try to keep a routine. I get up at a reasonable time, have a shower and put decent clothes on. I try to act as if I was doing everything the same way as before apart from commuting. I use my "commute time" to read through my social media, talk to my partner (or play Animal Crossing).
I have an hour lunch break at a fixed time - and so do my co-workers so that we are on the same schedule.
I also try to switch off my laptop at the time I am meant to finish as it is just as easy to lose track of time towards the end of the day and get carried away. It's easy to work overtime when you can't even leave the house but it is not good for your mental health to do it all the time.
I find that one of the hardest thing in remote working is to separate work time from personal time in my mind because my surroundings don't change. There aren't warm up and wind down times in the day as I would have with commuting so it is important to consciously remind myself to change.
I have an alarm set for half an hour before work time when I will have my coffee and mentally prepare for work. Equally, straight after work I make sure to put my laptop away and go to a different room in the house. (In my case that's leaving the kitchen and jumping in front of the telly.)
Given that I'm working from our kitchen, I easily find myself forgetting to have breaks. I'd be working while the kettle boils and would be snacking and even eating my lunch in front of my screen. So instead I force myself to just walk around the house a bit while the kettle boils, drink my tea and eat my lunch in the living room or in the garden if it's sunny. If you still struggle, try to chat to someone over your phone (away from the laptop screen) for a few minutes - people seem to be having more time and calling more regularly lately anyway. :)
When you work in an office and are having a bad day, everyone can see it even if you don't say a thing. That's gone with remote working. Your colleagues can't see your body language, they can't tell if you're stressing out. You have to say it.
I probably find this the hardest: actively expressing emotions verbally. I easily get frustrated when the people I work with just don't recognise how I'm feeling. When they don't recognise that I feel stressed. But I have to remind myself constantly that they can't see me and they can't tell that I'm stressed unless I tell them. A hard one but worth paying attention to, they will understand because they are going through the same.
Have video chats and talk about the work you're doing and talk about stuff that doesn't relate to work - just as you would in person. Seeing other people on video calls is as close as we can currently get to personal interaction and it is important if you're not used to working remotely. We have the occasional "after work drinks" through Zoom and share our experiences. It's great to get the feedback that we are all in the same boat and have similar struggles.
My previous list of useful tools to help remote work needs to be extended.
We are still using VS Code Live Share to pair-code but more or less moved away from Slack for messaging to Discord.
Discord also allows you to share your screen (if you needed to share more than just your VS Code), also works great for conference calls.
Discord has video conference options but I much prefer using Zoom for that because I really like the way it swaps between the screen showing the active user (the one talking) on a bigger screen.
Also, all the above are free to use (at least to the extent we need it).
So this is my list - what would you add?
Cover Photo Credit: Johannes Plenio