Staying productive during work from home
Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash
Staying productive while WFH can be challenging and cause stress and anxiety for folks who are used to the office environment and their colleagues being around them.
Sure, there are fewer moments of insights that come with the benefit of face to face collaboration or pairing with your fellow developers/teammates or just being in the office seated in tables opposite to each other, sharing thoughts during lunch and snack times or just those water-cooler moments. 😐 But all hope is not lost, We can definitely make it work.
Considering the times, I thought it would be quite appropriate to share some of the practices that I have been following to stay productive and focused during this WFH time period.
Follow Pomodoro and take breaks ⏰
With us working more isolated in our homes compared to an office, It is very important to be energized and focused during the day.
I follow the Pomodoro technique and work in focussed time blocks of 25 mins each with a running timer, once done, I take a 5 min break. Once you do 4 such blocks take a longer break of 20-30 mins.
Tip: Horo app on the mac or just your phones timer can be used for this
I Use this break to relax, stretch, Get up from the seat and walk around.
Maybe take care of your plants by watering them or do some minor chores around the house and then come back.
This shift from active work allows me to think in a more relaxed fashion and many times helps me get ideas on how to solve a problem that I have been struggling with.
Listen to soothing music while working 🎧
To get into focus mode (aka the zone), I listen to some relaxing ambient music on Spotify. A couple of my favorite playlists are Lo-Fi Beats, Peaceful Piano while working. This allows any distractions happening around the house to face away and allows me to drift into work.
Effective communication/collaboration with the team 🗣
While working remotely, It’s very important to have clear communication lines with your colleagues
Try to keep web camera on during remote calls 👨🏻💻
In the absence of physical face to face contact, It helps to have a video on during remote teleconferencing calls whenever possible. The visual feedback while you discuss something helps in better communication as well as retains the personal touch of connecting with your teammates
Overcommunicate about what you will be working on 🤓
With remote working, It’s very important to stay accountable for our work items.
I try to call out the items that I plan to work on and any roadblocks during the day explicitly during daily stand-ups and ensure the team is aware of them. This could also help them understand where we can collaborate remotely on items or cases where I can help or need help.
Block time on your calendar 🗓
At the start of the day, I try to come up with 3 most important items that I want to accomplish during the day and based on rough estimate block time slots for them in the calendar.
You can consider the times when you feel most productive and ensure you slot the hardest work items during that time, this time is typically in the morning for me and the rush of getting the challenging items done first gives a rush that carries me through the day.
Remember to keep a few timeslots open on your calendar to let you be free to collaborate with your colleagues or if any unplanned work comes your way.
Also, try to block any planned meetings on the calendar so that your colleagues can also plan their day out if they want.
Summarize and document decisions aggressively 📄
While working remotely, It’s important to ensure the required people on the team know about any decisions/discussions that have taken place while you are collaborating with few teammates.
I try to summarize any decisions being taken as meeting notes in either Google docs, Slack post or Confluence items so that the general team is aware of these discussions (and can add their opinion on possible solution approaches)
Schedule some free time slot to just discuss life, fun stuff with your colleagues 🤪
In my team, We try to ensure some open video conference meetings are set every day, where folks can join and discuss nonwork stuff, about their days or just to engage in some fun chit chat.
This essentially simulates the water cooler conversations and helps to keep the team connected and gives people a space to relax, unwind a bit from work.
Maintain a balance between work and life ☯
I try to maintain a strict balance between office work and regular house life by updating my office hours in Google calendar and adhering to that.
Its a balancing scale at the end of the day and too much of work while neglecting your personal space will just cause problems like burnout or stress down the road.
It’s important to maintain a healthy routine while working from home to signal the switch between work mode and personal life. This could be as simple as dedicating a place around the house to work from and let your family know that you are not to be disturbed during this time
It can sometimes be tempting to keep on working extra hours while you are in the middle of some work, but trust me your personal life is just as important. Switch off work mode when you are done and spend time with your family members.
Once I log off work, I try to not look at emails/slack until the next workday.
Take care of your health, hydrate well, and exercise 🙆🏻♂️
While WFH it’s very important to move around and ensure you are well hydrated throughout the day. Ensure you keep a water bottle around and set targets for yourself to finish at least 2-3 liters during the day.
Also, Make some time to exercise in the evening, Do some cardio exercises or meditate and do Yoga, whatever works best for you and helps you stay relaxed.
Many of these practices are something that you can use even if not working remotely, however they become especially important to follow during WFH. They help me keep sane and not go overboard and hopefully, would be helpful to you as well.
There are a ton of resources from other folks around this top. Feel free to browse them at your convenience. If this helped you feel free to share with other folks/colleagues.
- A cool post on some of the WFH best practices written by Gojek’s Co-CEO Kevin.
- Remote work wiki by notion
Also, I made a video on this topic for TestProject. Check it out below: