Due to danger of coronavirus spread many organizations decided to switch to the remote work model. Besides the influence on Scrum implementation,
this might be a new situation for you personally. At first working from home might seem easy, but without a good approach, it might be difficult to get things done. I have worked many times from home and as Agile Consultants, in QAgile we are all part of a virtual team. A long time ago I noticed that I won’t get much done while seating in my comfortable chair in front of the TV. Thanks to my interest in psychology and coaching I quickly discovered what’s the trick. Let me share my personal experience, few techniques and tricks to be productive and keep work-life balance.
Why working from home is different?
It all boils down to a single and basic psychological mechanism. If you have worked in the office until now, home is associated with pleasure and relaxation. Office working environment has some distinct characteristics, a specific vibe. That makes it different than home. The mechanism which kicks in here is called anchoring or classical conditioning (if you prefer more professional name). Probably you have heard about it already. Classical conditioning was discovered by Ivan Pavlov. Basically, a stimulus creates an automatic reaction. This way your mind and body knows when is the time to work and when is the time to play. You watch the photos from holidays and you get that feeling again. You sit behind your desk and your focus and behaviour changes. You put your bunny slippers and you feel home. So where do you feel now? Home or work?
Build a routine and start your day well
I am always hungry around noon and 6 p.m. My stomach expects I eat at lunchtime and then dinner when I get back home. I remember working from home in my pajamas. I used to get up between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. I would shower around noon, eat something and get back to work. I couldn’t get much done and I would stay busy till late. Not a very productive way to spend time. When I noticed that pattern I broke it by creating the same routine as for going to the office. I set my alarm clock to 6 a.m. than a shower, shaving, perfumes, work clothes, breakfast. But instead of walking to my car I would sit and start working. Usually, I was able to work the same hours and I got much more done. When I needed to “take work home”, I would break at 5 p.m. and work one hour more after 10 p.m.
Therefore use the same routine as preparing to go to the office. This way your brain gets a clear signal that it is now the time to focus and start working. The most powerful are the smell anchors, that’s why using perfumes or making coffee works very well. What smell do you associate with work?
Actually, for a good and productive day, it’s recommended to create a morning routine. You shouldn’t start a day by going through emails and smartphone notifications. This way you are already unfocused and distracted. Maybe even you will start with a bad mood. First, meditate, do for a walk, exercise, read something inspiring or do whatever that will get you in a good mood. After you can sit and work. If you work 9-5, you can reply to emails around 9 a.m. not 6:30 a.m.