Working From Home

May 10, 2020

Problems Working From Home

It has been almost 9 weeks since I have worked in an office. Life has been pretty crazy and working from home is the new normal. It wasn’t until last week that I finally started to feel like I was getting a rythm working again. It was the first week in a long time that I felt comfortable and productive most of work week. I have been struggling with both of these for most of my time working home. I made some tweeks that seemed to have payed off. I thought I would go ahead and share what has worked for me in case it helps someone else.

Comfortable place to work

The most important change I have made to my working style is working at a desk. Part way through this time, I moved apartments and am now living in a smaller studio apartment. Before I moved I told myself that I didn’t need to work at a desk because it would be easier to pack it up now. Instead I just worked on my laptop sitting in a recliner. After I moved, I told myself that there wasn’t enough room in the studio apartment for a desk. So I sat, slouched, and layed down on the couch all day. Finally last week I caved. My hips were hurting from sitting uncomfortably all day. I picked up my monitors and chair from work and made room in the corner for a desk. Now I wished I would have doen that at the beginning. My posture and ergonomics are so much better. My hip pain is gone and I feel so much more productive with my dual monitors again.

Keeping home and work life physically seperate

Inadvertly having a desk also created a place seperate from my “home” life. I no longer sat in my recliner or couch all day long. My two lives were clearly seperate. Work at my desk and home life on the couch. This greatly helped my feelings of burn out. I was tired of be cramped up sitting in the same place ALL day long. Who knew seperating the two would have so much of an impact? This actually made it easier to work while I was at my desk too. I no longer had the tempations of watching TV or playing video games right in front of me.

Transition time between work and home life

My commute time was 30 to 60 minutes depending on traffic. During this time I would always be listening to podcasts. This time was a great time to help transition from home to work in the morning and work to home in the afternoon. I could wake up in the moring or wind down from the day while listening to something I enjoyed. Working from home killed this time though. For the first 8 weeks I did not listen to any podcast at all. I would wake up, walk 8 feet, and start working. It usually took a little while for me to fully come awake. When I was done with work, I would close my laptop and do something else. Sometimes I would find work time bleeding over into home time if I continued to get emails or Slack messages.

Last week I started to do something different to reclaim these transition times. Instead of a commute and podcast, I would play Animal Crossing New Horizions and listen to podcast. To my surprise, it has been a great substitute. It has helped me wake up and get ready to go in the morning. It has also helped me calm down and relax in the afternoons.

Shower in the middle of the day

I work better in the mornings and start to lose momentum in the afternoons. One thing that can usually give me a boost though is a shower. I started taking showers in the middle of the day to help reenergize. They have also been a great replacements of walks to the bathroom to think about problems. I don’t know about you but my mind would always wander when walking to the bathroom at work. I can’t count the number of times that I would step away from a problem and come back with a solution from the walk. Being stuck at home, my walk to the bathroom is not quite as long as it use to be. Taking a shower though is great replacement for this time to step away and think about different angles to a problem.

Parting Words

I have read several articles about things to do to help out with working from home. Some of them even having contradictory suggestions. Best thing I can recommend is do what makes you comfortable and productive. Also do not become complacent. If things are not working out, change things up until they do. Don’t wait 8 weeks to finally get a desk like I did!

Written by Jacob Oakes
I am a software architect who enjoys learning new things, clean code, and automated tests.