Moving workspace from the office to the home can be challenging. The two environments are (typically) configured for polar opposite behaviour — offices for work, productivity, and collaboration; homes for avoiding work, relaxing, and a degree of solitude.

As such, I’ve found a simple bit of additional attention to how things are going can have a large impact on your quality of work and balance with life.

Staying Accountable

I’ve always found retrospectives to be very useful, with the teams I’ve been in that have been the most open and honest in these processes noticeably better than those who weren’t quite as proactive. A few weeks back, when considering how I was getting on remotely, I wondered whether or not I could run a self-retrospective.

Finding Your System

  • What went well.
  • What went badly.
  • What I would change or do differently. (Within this I define both immediate and ongoing actions.)

These categories are intentionally broad to catch as broad a range of points as possible. Personally, I use this to reflect on not only what has impacted my work, but also how my work has impacted other aspects of my life. The aim is to be more mindful of what’s impacted me during the week, whether in work or outside of it, and reacting if appropriate to mitigate the negative and reinforce the positive in the future.

Implementation

I’d suggest setting up some sort of simple, easily repeated template to fill in each week, regardless of the destination/application used. Notion allows a nice way to create new pages from templates with a couple of clicks, but even having a placeholder markdown file with prefilled headings and empty lists that you can copy and paste is a good thing to prepare.

Notion also allows, through the use of tags, a concise at-a-glance sense of how things are going more broadly (you’ll see above that things are fairly neutral for me in the above screengrab). This is far from necessary and could drive anxiety depending on how critical you’re being, so you may want to avoid a similar setup.

Reflection

I’ve found that I’ve repeated fewer mistakes through this new process, and that my separation of life and work is slightly better. There are bound to be shortcomings of the process that may improve with time, but I expect that even when things more closely resemble the way they were prior to COVID, this will be something I’ll continue to give attention to.

Socially distanced software engineer @ McLaren Racing, technophile, gig-goer, bobblehat, and fair-weather cyclist.

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