In the past week, concerns surrounding the coronavirus have been increasing in the U.S. (and globally) with more companies now encouraging or even mandating employees to work from home (WFH). My instagram stories was filled with friends posting that they’re working from home for the week, or at least until further notice — without a doubt, we’re currently in the biggest WFH experiment in history. With that in mind, I want to use this week’s blog as a means of sharing my experience, tips, and thoughts on “remote work” as I happen to be quite familiar with the concept myself.
Work from home is the biggest test of maturity, especially for young professionals who live alone. You have the complete freedom to take long breaks, skip shower, and stay-up late.
What could go wrong?
Personally, I think that the most challenging part of working from home is to hold yourself accountable. When I first started taking on personal projects outside of college during my undergraduate years, I would often missed the deadlines that I’ve set for myself due to consistent procrastination, thinking that I can always “catch up” with my work when I eventually do it later.
My personal favorite time management tool to tackle this problem is the Pomodoro Technique.
Simply put, it splits your time into 30 minutes increments — 25 minutes of work and 5 minutes rest.
The idea behind this tool is to instill a sense of urgency during our work hours and ensure that breaks are effective, not excessive. Once we’re used to it, the next step is to improve the effectiveness of this tool by planning in advance the tasks that we’re going to be doing in those 25 minutes increments. A lot of tasks will take less or more than 25 minutes, so the key here is to really break down the tasks and look at them on a granular level. In other words, having a method to keep ourselves accountable is crucial when we work from home. A person that is meticulous with his time and has a strong sense of responsibility will handle this WFH period with ease.
Go. For. A. Coffee
Human is a social creature, even if you consider yourself an introvert. This tips might not be applicable if you’re working from home due to self-quarantine or the fear of coronavirus, but most people will still end up spending time outside during this global experiment of WFH. If you’re not in a high risk area, it is probably fine for you to go work from a coffee shop, and there are benefits associated with it.
The first few days of WFH might seem like the best thing in the world for people that have never done it or don’t particularly enjoy their office environment. But after a few days of getting stuck inside your own house/apartment, it can be the worst thing in the world. As a social being, we have a need to go out, see, and interact with other people around us. Working from a coffee shop provides you the ability to fulfill this basic human need while also having the added benefits of “peer pressure” self-accountability. When the people around you are working, it is more likely for you to focus on your own work.
Work Smart, Sprint, and Rest
One of the greatest benefits of WFH is the ability to optimize our time if we know how to work smart. Realistically, when we spend eight hours in the office, we will only be spending 5-6 hours working, and the remaining 2-3 hours are filled with meetings, lunch, and other forms of procrastination. Lets be real, we have seen coworkers (or even ourselves) fall victim into the evening slump, when our productivity rate goes down to 0 during the last hour or thirty minute of work (after 4 pm). With WFH, responsibilities are more goal oriented rather having to show your face consistently for eight hours. For example, you can dedicate six hours for work, splitting it into three hours increments with a gym session between them, and be far more productive than trying to maintain work for eight hour straight.
“Nobody really works at 80 hours a week sustained at high output with mental clarity” - Naval Ravikant
Do not just blindly put hours and efforts into your work without constantly reassessing the meaning and quality of your work. Effective knowledge work is much more similar to a lion hunting rather than a marathon runner running. Sprint, tackle the problems, and rest as necessary.
WFH enables us to execute the very notion of “work smart” because we’re not judged by the amount of time that we spend sitting on our desk, but by the quality of our decision making skills.
See you next week.