I’m often asked “How do you manage to ACTUALLY work from home so often?”.
Well, for me the answer is simple: routine and adapting.
Thanks to reading lots of psychology/sociology books, I also think I have a reasonable handle on what makes humans happy: things like Social Connectedness for example. That means I build them into my rituals.
6AM: Wake up. Yes, every day same time. Apparently this is better for you. I also get out bed immediately, no snooze-button. I have always been a morning person, and appreciate this doesn’t work for everyone. My wife is now almost adjusted to this schedule (we find sticking to it works much better if we both want to sleep at the same time).
6:05AM: Go exercise! I follow a training plan as I’m normally on autopilot this time in the morning, and I find it keeps me motivated. This can be anything from a 30 minute light cycle to a 2hr run. Currently I’m following this half marathon plan. On my way out I let out the chickens (and if everyone else has bins out, I do that too. I can lose track of what day it is).
After this, I stretch, have a protein shake and
shower, then read the news over breakfast (which invariably involves eggs).
9AM: Depending on how long the workout has been, this might be a hour or on a rest day even two hours earlier: but I will definitely have started work by 9AM. First up I write down the stuff I’ve thought of during my workout – I often am like “oh yeah I must do XX”, for example today as I am about to go on holiday it was to look up the best way of exchanging Czech Republic Koruna. I add these as kanban cards to my board. I then check the priorities for the day look right: if I’m lucky I can catch my wife before she goes to work and see if she has anything she wants my help with. An important part of this process is that I’m blending “work” and “home” things together as part of the same list.
This allows me to flex onto whatever is more important, reducing the amount of “work” I do for “home” if that is what is needed. These tasks might me anything from “Do laundry” to “Write a blog post” to “Find out if data.gov has usable, open Littering Data”: I think the variety of these tasks keeps me engaged throughout the day.
9:15AMish: Crack on! Picking up either what was in progress yesterday, or whatever is more urgent today, I do it. And repeat. During these large work periods, I break it up with water breaks and whenever my Garmin Vivoactive watch tells me I need to get up and go for a quick walk round the block (around every hour).
12AM: Early lunch. No resting, just refueling. Usually leftovers or steamed veg.
12:30PM: Back to work. At around 3-4PM I am likely to start flagging, so I’ll probably change what I’m working on. I’ll also try to speak to a friend or family at some point.
6PM: Stop work. Sometimes if I’m not feeling in the mood this will be earlier. Make dinner. Eat with my wife (usually not chatting as she doesn’t like “eating air”).
6:30PM: Go for a walk with my wife (usually 5km, in the countryside). We talk about our days etc.
10PM: Lights out.
You might be thinking that anything like “going out” or requiring a late night would throw everything out of whack: and it does. I try to see friends on nights before I’m having a rest day for exercise, and I allow myself to wake up later if I need on that day. I ran several experiments where I reduced sleep, and it led to much less being done during that day. Seeing people is really important, and as such I try to go to one work-related event (eg Agile Meetup) and one friend-related event (eg pub) a week.
I make sure I top-up my social connectedness at weekends: like many young professionals I don’t have “free weekends” very often. The biggest thing I miss about working in an office is the social connection I found with colleagues, and indeed I am consider going to a co-working space, or even choosing to take on a full-time contract that would require me being in an office for several months.
I am also not fixed in this way of working, I am always trying new things. I tried a month of 5am starts in July, and did evening work sessions in August. Again, Inspect and Adapt is king.