How I’ve adjusted to working from home in Lockdown


Ian Arrowsmith is loving it at home

August 27, 2020 | Ian Arrowsmith

This article was originally published on LinkedIn.

After several months I’ve now adjusted to working from home. This is a bit of retrospective on what I’ve actually done to adjust or, put another way, some tips about working from home (even if it is a bit late to the party). 

(Skip to the end if you want the boring TLDR version)

Waiting in line for pastries on a Friday
Waiting in line for pastries on a Friday

Have your routines (but also keep changing them)

When I talk about routines, I don’t mean a peak LinkedIn routine, or a world-domination dress code routine.

Before the pandemic, I walked to the office every morning. It helped me prepare for whatever the day was going to bring. Since working from home, I have added artificial walks to and from ‘work’ to my routine. I leave home, walk around my neighbourhood, before arriving back where I started to begin work.

Routines are good for ensuring there’s some breathing space in your day. It’s great to follow them to force you to wind down or start processing the day’s activity.

That said, it’s important not to get stuck in your routines. Sometimes it’s better to switch them up and try something different. It might help you solve a problem, clear you head, or get you out of an unproductive rut.

You should also make sure your routines aren’t all based around productivity, performance and work. Positive experiences are important, too. People at Brew know that I go to a local bakery most Fridays for a pastry fix.

Help your brain to context switch

Working from home means there’s little separation between work and home life. By building a context switch into your routine, you can help your brain recognize more clearly when you’re at work and when you’re at home.

As I already had a decent computer desk and space set up at home, I was lucky that I could start using that comfortably. But after a while I realized I needed to do something to make sure my brain would notice I had stopped ‘being at work’ when I had decided to finish.

Now I use two different mice. One during the working day, which is an ergonomic one, and when my workday finishes, I go back to my regular mouse. The two mice feel quite different. It’s a physical marker to my brain that when I switch off my ergonomic mouse, I am no longer working. The other mouse, that’s for gaming.

Find your fun (and make time for it)

Before lockdown, I had a decent mix through the week of work and fun social activities, often with members of the Brew team. With the initial set of restrictions, a lot of the fun activities suddenly disappeared from my week.

Pretty quickly I realised I had to find fun that fitted within the constraints of lockdown. I am fortunate that I do get to have fun as part of my work, but with all the fun that lockdown took away, it still took a conscious effort to find more to keep myself topped up.

A few examples of what I ended up doing:

  • Remembering that I enjoy playing video games socially with friends.
  • Waiting until I felt like I wanted to have social Zoom calls with friends rather than forcing it and “phoning” it in.
  • Making a special occasion of simple things like watching a movie.

The other important aspect is to intentionally make time for fun. Don’t just expect it to happen automatically.

TLDR;

There we have it:

  • Have some routines, because it helps when there’s chaos going on.
  • Have markers to yourself that you’re changing states, because even though brains are complicated, sometimes simple things can really help them work better.
  • Make some time for fun, because if you don’t, it might not arrive.