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Working from home can be a treat, but it can also be bittersweet, especially now, when everything has to happen from home. With the outdoors out of the question, indoor space needs to accommodate the answer to all our needs: business and pleasure alike. No pressure, though, right?
Staying productive in WFH-mode means achieving a fragile balance between work, rest, play, and a dozen responsibilities. While we’ve been practicing remote work ever since we can remember, working from home in quarantine-times poses an entirely different challenge.
Luckily, we bravely faced it and came out victorious. Now, four of our developers and designers are ready to share their behind-the-home-scene tips and tricks for a more efficient, productive, and, dare we say, even fun WFH scenario.
Robert Todea, Software Developer, Father of Two
Video-call colleagues: I schedule daily short calls to see what my teammates have been doing on and off projects. I prefer video-calls on Hangouts to audio-calls because we are social creatures and like to have a face to speak to. I keep my camera on even if I sometimes have to re-purpose the bedroom or the bathroom as my meeting-room. My teammates understand this is not my usual time of the year.
Schedule time for ‘deep work’: Take advantage of the time when your kids are asleep (early in the morning or late at night) to tackle the hardest and most thought-provoking tasks. Disconnecting from all communication forms during this time helps. Get in your work-bubble and get to it.
Expect the unexpected: Things will get out of control, or kids will drop by to show you their latest feats (it’s their work and they are proud to share it with you). So accept that you will have to stop what you’re doing and attend to whatever might pop up.
Extra inside-info: When you finish work, it is better to have some buffer time before playing with the kids. This will help you put a smile on, which is mandatory because kids always pick up when you are sad and amplify it. I use the 7minute iOS app to boost my mind. Then I’m ready to play and prepare the activities for the kids for the following day.
Alexandra Braslasu, UX/UI Designer, Creative-Routine Lover
Routine is your best friend: Having a schedule and not compromising on it helps me stay hyper-productive and tick off my to-do list. My morning ritual helps me get in focus: I wake up, wash my face, brush my teeth, drink my smoothie, sip my coffee and listen to music while watching the Ginkgo Biloba in front of my kitchen window bloom.
Keep your workspace neaaaaaat: I designated the desk in my living room as my ‘workspace.’ On this desk, I hate keeping things that I don’t need for work. Having a work-only area that’s neatly organized helps me stay in the ‘tunnel’ mindset when I am in the mood to work, work, work, and reminds me that I need time for myself.
Stay motivated by getting inspired: I pay a lot of attention to what draws my interest and try things that bring me pleasure. Playtime feels like a good time to learn all the little things I have always wanted to learn but never had the time. I started painting and drawing again, reading books about my favorite artists, learning calligraphy and trying to find resources to learn how to braid baskets.
Extra tip: When I first started working from home, I used to dress up to motivate myself to get in the work-mindset. Now, after almost five years of alternating working from home with working from the office, I don’t need that trick anymore - sitting at my homework desk helps me stay focused.
Ovidiu Bite, Software Developer, Active Video-Conference Participant
Keep work and play separate: I’ve chosen a particular room as “my office” and I keep it for work only. During breaks, I go to a different room, and I avoid using my computer. I either (try to) play with my cat or I simply stare out the window.
Follow the 30/70 rule: I alternate sitting down with standing up. I have an adjustable desk, and I try to mix it up: 30% of the time I sit down and 70% of the time I stand (okay, that’s the maximum percentage for standing, still a novice).
Step it up: I bought a stepper (best decision ever!), and I use it even when I’m on video calls. The good part is that I keep active; the bad part is that I lose my breath and talk funny when it’s my turn to speak.
Extra #stayhome tips: I heard that having a quarantine hobby helps, so I learned to play the guitar. Two weeks ago, I didn’t know how to hold a chord. Now I know...that holding a chord hurts my fingers. A hobby that does help is keeping in touch with my friends. Every evening, after work, we video call to enjoy some time out, inside. Pro tip: Chat over cold craft beers; paying the extra buck will make you feel like you’re out and about.
David Porosnicu, Experienced Remote Developer, Novice Quarantine Dweller
But first, coffee: Before going into work-mode, I enjoy my cup of coffee while doing my morning read. Currently, I’m reading Atomic Habits by James Clear, a pretty cool book I definitely recommend. Then, I pour myself a second cup and off to work - meaning off to the other room.
Break your tasks into mini-tasks to afford some time off: I’ve devised this gimmick to reward myself at the end of each task with a short, pampering break. During my breaks, I usually take lessons on Duolingo or watch a short TV-Series episode. Oh, and I have de dedicated working area to separate the activities better.
Sync with your teammates’ schedules: I try to respect the “official” working hours to make sure I’m overlapping with my other colleagues’ calendars. This helps me keep the communication stream smooth. Plus, it also gives me a better separation between my work and personal life.
Extra inside-info: WFH and Remote Work are two different breeds. During my remote work adventures around Asia, the biggest downside was finding a stable internet connection. The great part was that I had a cool new office daily, with a sea-view. Working from home during this pandemic is entirely different, as I rely mostly on routine and my mom’s excellent cooking.
Have any creative strategies and gimmicks of your own? We’d like to hear them! Share the WFH joy and pass it on.