Learnings from the first week working at home

Honestly speaking, more than a week has passed since COVID quarantine started in Spain and the state of alarm was declared by the government. In this post I’ll try to recap all the takeaways from the first week “locked” at home, not only working but keeping daily habits to stay safe and healthy.

Is is strange to say that I am doing “Home office” or that I “Work from home”. I have always defended the possibility, but I have never been a real promoter. I love working at the office, and build relationships with my mates. I live close to it, 15 minutes by car. This improved my “life quality”.

“Home office” was an eternal request from the employees, always rejected or postponed. Now the message changed, our management board told that this was an opportunity for us to demonstrate that we can work from home, but if we fail, it won’t be another one for years. More than an opportunity, sounded like a threat. Maybe we misunderstood, or the messenger distorted it.

Also there’s the fact that working at home with the family, with kids, probably wasn’t the “home office” that we were thinking of. It is a weird situation. Anyway, our commitment and responsibility will drive us to offer the best of us.

But let’s go back to the learnings. In general I will say that I feel fortunate. It was complicated to work from home due to the exceptional time and the technical issues (at first), but I didn’t feel that the mountain was that high for the first week. Let’s see what happens with the next ones.

Here I will share the points that I think helped me to pass the week.

Being in company

In my personal case, I live with my wife and two kids. And I strongly believe that they are the reason that everything worked. Some might think that staying at home with them for a long period would let them go mad, but when I think about people that are staying at home alone, I quickly feel fortunate.

And believe me when I say that I love my independence and enjoy all the time that I am alone. But spending all this crisis alone would be much harder without them. That makes me think about the people that don’t have this luck. If you also know other people in this situation, please care about them.

Having an independent workplace

If staying with my family was very important to not feeling alone, having a workplace completely separated was key for the success of home office. They have respected a lot my workspace. I did several calls with people working at home with kids, and the ones living in an open space were constantly interrupted.

It is good to remember also that our brain lose focus after 45 minutes, and that is good to pause, to walk, to sit a little under the sunlight. I don’t know how are your chairs, but mine have nothing to do with my office one. I am using a cushion and have a lumbar belt close to me (promise).

Keeping a schedule

One of the things that might helped is to keep the same timetable I used before. I only delayed my wake up hour because I didn’t have to bring kids to school and drive to work. I use to wake up early, before my wife and child, and I do some exercises and spend 10 minutes meditating.

You have to keep a timetable not only for demonstrating your bosses that you can work from home, but to know when to connect and when to disconnect from work. One of the problems of working at home is that it is easy to extend the working hours, and we have to force us to keep time for us, to relax and recover.

Focus on what is important

When you are locked at home, it could be easy to go mad. I am a positive person, and due to the fact that we are going to stay long at home, it is better to enhance self control, keep positive thinking, and avoid stress if possible.

Meditation can be helpful in order to reduce stress, and to combat depression and anxiety. It is agreed that the best time for meditation is the morning, when the mind is free and clear, without all the daily stress. These days I am trying an app called Headspace, co-founded by Andy Puddicombe, a former Buddhist monk that also is public speaker and writer. There’s also another app named Calm that has released free resources due to COVID. I’ll be switching between these two apps.

It is good to pay attention on what’s going on, but it’s better no not lose control or get obsessed. It turns out that when something is threatening us, we usually focus on it on don’t pay attention to other important topics as they deserve: family, work, etc. Before lockdown I used to check the news and statistics hourly. I decided to stop looking at it, only on certain moments of the day.

The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.

Quote from “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey

Stay healthy

Staying at home for one month requires us to keep in mind a healthy diet and doing some regular sport. You cannot control the health system, but you can make the proper decisions regarding your health.

Beer and potato chips suddenly arrived to the diet, and I had to take control over them. After that and due I used to have a balanced diet, it was easy to follow it again. Also it is important what we ate, and what we drink. We are staying at home while working, but we are not on an eternal weekend. Also, I decided for a vitamin supplement.

On the other hand, I also used to do sport regularly at home using an APP. I usually do exercises 5 days a week, mostly calisthenics, in the morning. Check my previous post about this topic. But I also discovered some new cardio videos on youtube. As said before, keeping a timetable is very important in order to be able to do everything.

Use your time to grow

I recently took part on a podcast that encouraged us to use this time locked at home to transform ourselves. Used a butterfly metaphor, and the phrase was as cool as it follows:

While the beauty is in the butterfly, the growth happens in the cocoon.

The idea, the metaphor, is that we are locked in a cocoon, and as the butterfly is on its metamorphosis stage, we could use it to choice the change, to improve to a better version of ourselves, to upgrade capabilities, acquire new skills, to level up and learn what you wanna learn.

And how I am doing it? Reading. Learning how to learn, and how to read faster. Joining podcasts and elearnings. You will find lots of possibilities, from free books to free courses. There are several digital platforms that are offering free courses and resources during the COVID lockdown. Use them, take advantage of your time.

And that’s it! My humble list, that will probably increase with time.

Seems that we will have to stay at home for a long period, so it is better to be patient, and try to enjoy it the best possible way.

Please, share your experiences, and your advices!

I hope you liked it. And, if you want to stay up to date, don’t miss my free newsletter.

Thanks for reading.

Also published on Medium.

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