Staff Corner: Michelle's little remote hamlet
Current location: Rural Dublin, Ireland
"Successfully working from home is a skill, just like programming, designing or writing. It takes time and commitment to develop that skill." Alex Turnbull
Piggybacking on Cara’s most recent blog about time management during Covid, I have to say that mine has definitely evolved as well over the last seven months of working from home. I’ve discussed previously about my love and need for routine. I went from morning swims before going to the office, walks and pottering around the shops during lunch and then an evening commute home to clear my mind of work before going home, to being home ALL DAY LONG. I live in the country, surrounded by fields, so there’s no scope to “potter” anywhere during breaks, so I adhere to a very rigid schedule of exercise and fresh air, no matter the weather. This helps to keep me going. This helps to keep me on track, but like Cara, being at home, all of the things still tend to get in the way.
My morning starts with a long run to clear my head. It’s a bonus if it’s dry, and a super bonus if I get to see a beautiful sunrise (which is getting more and more rare as the sun rises later and later the closer we get to winter). Then I get a bit of housework done before we have breakfast and then walk the dog. Then my work day starts, more than three hours after waking up. My new FitBit (my old one died at the beginning of the first lockdown) encourages me to get 250 steps per hour, so the hours pass super quickly, as I regularly get up and dance in front of my screen. I break those hours into tasks that I schedule on my calendar, which used to work very well, but in recent weeks distractions, both from work and home, abound, and it’s harder for me to keep on track and get projects done. The dog might be out of sorts, the postman might come, I might have forgotten to throw something in the slow cooker for dinner, my internet might fail, my computer might chug (this has since been fixed, thank goodness!), the rain might come (necessitating me to run out and rescue the hopeful laundry from the line), the news might come on and it might not be good (Ireland is deep in the midst of its second wave of Covid), which leads thoughts to wander…
At lunchtime I reset. Every day I have one o’clock meeting with one of our interns to help start their morning and we discuss our tasks for the day, before I go on a lunch walk with my audiobook to reset and clear my head. Then I make my lunch smoothie, try to tidy up anything leftover from the morning, start to prep dinner, and then head back to my “office” (aka the spare room, aka the cat’s room, aka the laundry room… It’s a two-bed cottage, so one room has to be a catchall). This is when human interaction can abound, as we have staff meetings twice a week, a weekly management meeting, as well as any other meetings that need to wait until the US side of the house wakes up. I like to report productive news about what I did in the mornings if I can, which then helps to inform the tasks of others and helps us continue to plan and strategise for the weeks and months ahead. For the days when Covid will hopefully be just a background factor, not a major life and livelihood threat.
As we approach 5:30, quittin’ time on my side of the pond, I find that I usually need to hang online that bit longer, chat to the people that it seems only just logged on a minute ago, try to finish up tasks that previous distractions kept me from doing, and while I must feed the dog at 5:10 PM bang on the dot (because the cat’s feeder goes off then and she’ll try to eat his food otherwise), my work usually drags on that bit longer, as my dinner can wait, the dog can hang on that bit longer to walk, and that extra bit of downtime with Netflix or a book gets pushed further and further to the weekend.