Working from Home 101
Work from Home 101 – Costa Rica Edition
I live in Costa Rica, which may come in handy if you need any travel tips.
However, because of “life”, I’ve spent my entire career working for project in either USA or in the UK, hence I’ve done this remote-thing (or distributed, use your choice of words) for a while.
I began as an employee, but I eventually transitioned into entrepreneurship where I have a few things going on, including my Pluralsight courses, a tech support center, and supporting from time to time Cloudera.
But let’s cut to the chase. I am not going to bother you with details or anecdotes—I’ll do a few posts some other day on those.
Today, I am going to tell you what has worked for me over the years.
Hopefully, this will help you too.
First of all, work from home (WFH) is still work. The fact that you are at home does not mean that it is not serious business.
How others perceive you is going to be a reflection of your actions, including the quality of your work and how responsive you are.
So, one of the things that I suggest is to set a schedule. In my case, for many years, despite the fact that in many of my projects I did not have to “clock in”, I still had a predictable work schedule.
I also took advantage of starting early, as that allowed me to work for a few hours undisturbed, focused, before you start to get asked to attend meetings or “can you help me for just a sec on this?”.
Something important here is that you need to be flexible too. In this pandemic, with work from home, home schooling, and quarantine in general, I am modifying schedules a bit.
I am still working on a predictable schedule, where people can reach me, but I am also using the late night hours to work as they provide quieter times—invaluable when you are focusing on something hard.
Next tip, create a dedicated work area. I have to admit that even though I work remote/distributed, I’ve done a lot of my work in a really small room where I have all my recording equipment. This includes the dedicated recording machine, Whisperroom, and all kinds of equipment that I cannot fit at home.
Although, at the moment I haven’t been there in more than a month as I am trully-fully working from home now.
This means that I have a very small desk and I am using an iPad as second monitor.
This works quite well. Although if you think about it, working at an office means you are moving all the time too. How many times have you moved to a conference room for a meeting or some focused time?
Same here. The kitchen counter-top is pretty high, so I am using it as a standing desk. It is far from the cooking utensils, so it works quite well.
Talking about moving, here is another tip.
Don’t sit down for hours straight. Try to get up every now and then, move a bit around. Your health comes first, so if possible also throw in some exercise every now and then.
Yes, exercise is important. It helps you think better and I don’t think I need to convince you of this.
Here’s more. Stick to a ritual. Just as I mentioned that having a schedule works well, try to also have a ritual of how you approach your work.
The more that you make your daily work a habit, the more the subconscious will take over and you will move forward faster.
Here, it is important that you block all distractions. It is said that whenever you are working on something and you are deeply focused, if someone interrupts you, then it will take 15 minutes to get back to what you were doing.
What if you get interrupted every 10 minutes? Well, you get my point…
But on the other hand, you still have to be responsive.
If you are part of a team, let them know that you will be focused on your work, and that you will check for messages at a certain interval.
But don’t forget to be responsive and prioritize your work. I had a remote worker once not respond for like half an hour. When she finally showed up, she said “well I was reading a novel and the chapter was pretty interesting”.
For her, being responsive was her top priority as she was in charge of distributing work.
I turn off all Whatsapp, email, Slack, and other notifications. But I check them after I finish a certain amount of work.
Better yet, as we all know, getting those messages releases some endorphines so it makes you addicted to checking “what’s new”.
If you make a habit of completing something and then checking, then this will help you be more productive.
Additionally, on checking what’s new… try to reduce your consumption of those things that do not add value to your life.
Instead of binging on Netflix, get a new skill by binging on Pluralsight.
Did I mentioned they are free during April?
And remember that what you learn is yours for life!
I’ll leave it here today, but tomorrow I will come back with more on what can help you with this new WFH (for many) situation.