Coming off of a decade in vfx at R&H, I have a lot of friends who are still in the industry. Some wfh and some don’t, but the thing that strikes me is that roughly half of them hate the idea of working from home, feel that they would be too easily distracted. The other half have the opposite problem: knowing when to stop working and relax. To not sit in front of the computer and continue to work while eating lunch. That’s the camp I’m in.
It took me a long time to find the right habits, but I think I have a few locked down now. I’m still guilty of looking at slack and tickets while I’m eating, but I’ve gotten better at stopping to watch an episode of One Punch Man or something with my sandwich
One of the first things I want to share is that it actually does help to change clothes when you’re working from home. However, that doesn’t mean you have to wear slacks or jeans or whatever “I’m a productive member of society” clothes you’d wear during the work day! About half the time, I wear pajama pants during the day, but when work’s over, I’ll put on jeans; just to switch, just to have the mental change of “now I’m done with work”. Making that space, that mental shift between work and non-work time is important! It helps stop the overwork and helps get your brain out of business-mode.
Something else that I do along those same lines is to set myself an alarm about fifteen minutes before lunch and 15 minutes before the end of the day. I don’t have to do anything, they’re just there to remind me “Hey man, your body needs food in a few minutes”, and “Hey, don’t forget that you need to stop working in the next little while”. This helps me start the transition away from work, ahead of time, so that I can keep my work/life balance boundaries and be ready to stop when I should be stopping
I 100% agree with this one, @andrew.lawrence - It’s been a habit for me to develop as well, to wake up a couple hrs before work starts, get some good exercise or self care in, make breakfast, and coffee, then get to work. Helps me to feel invigorated and focussed. And I’m not a morning person, so this has been a challenge, but very helpful. I have my slip up days where my morning meetings might include bed head, but for the most part I’ve been sticking to it this year and it feels gooooood.
I have been working from home back and forth for several years and I am one of those who sometimes dives too deep and forgets herself to work for many hours, without taking the necessary breaks.
So for me tracking is important and one tool I have been using and can recommend is the Pomodoro Technique It is a time management method, making sure to break down work into intervals.
Another important thing for me to keep in mind is to distance the distractions (like whatsapp and social media). So- while working, my phone is always on silent mode and far enough so I wouldn’t be attempted to reach for it without a real need.
I wrote up some of my learned lessons for a friend the other day, so I’ll reproduce that list here for anyone that might benefit from it.
If you’re using Zoom to have meetings and get together with people, there are a couple good Quality-of-Life features:
You can set the camera and mic so that they’re off and muted at the beginning of a meeting, adjust to suit your own preferences, but be cognizant of your settings!
There’s an option to remain muted until you hold the spacebar, this is good for not being the person clacking away at the keyboard while other folks are speaking
Change clothes at some point during the day. If that’s putting on “work clothes” before work and changing into pajamas afterwards to relax, or keeping your pajamas on and then putting on jeans after work – either way, make that change so that it helps reinforce the mental separation between work and not-work.
Comfy slippers are almost never on camera. If you stand up suddenly, your lack of pants will be.
If you’re sharing space with a spouse and/or kids, have a meeting and try to establish guidelines that will work for everyone; stuff like “I’m interruptible unless I have headphones on”, or “If I’m in X space, please wait to talk to me”. But also be willing to have a bat-signal for the other members of your family! When my wife and I need to get ahold of each other, we send a simple “meep” via IM or text; and it just hangs there until the other person is OK to respond. Then, a return “moop” says “okay, my brain’s clear, what’s up?” Obviously, feel free to use “SYN/ACK” or whatever works best with you and the other folks in your household
I’m an introvert and I tend towards overwork – If you’re like me, maybe set an alarm 15 min before lunch, and another one 15 min before the end of your day. You don’t have to do anything when the alarms go off; they’re just there to say “hey man, remember to stop thinking about work in the next few minutes, you need food / you’re at the end of your day”.
Give yourself some time at the end of the day to empty your brain or do something that isn’t immediately diving into whatever needs attention in your household. Take 15 minutes to walk around the block, or just sit in a comfy chair for a bit. Hell, take a power nap. Whatever helps you, do that. Again, increasing that mental separation between work and not-work.
Remember that if you’re suddenly wfh and other people in your house have already been doing it for a while (my wife’s an author, as an example, and was working from home for years before I did), they might be used to having the space all to themselves during the day. Be kind to each other and remember that wfh isn’t something that’s super easy right out of the gate. It’ll take some adjustment as you all get used to sharing a previously unshared space.
Sometimes it can be great to just jump on a call with your co-workers, not to necessarily talk anything out, just to be online ‘in the same room’ together. Work quietly, have some light conversation, whatever works.
If you’re so inclined, change up where in the house you’re working from. Follow the sun through the windows, find a great chair, hang out on the couch with your animals, whatever helps when you’ve been in the same place too long. Avoid bad furniture. I have a couch that’s fine for slumping on, but gives me a terrible backache if I try to sit on it with my laptop.
Figure out how to signal to your co-workers when you’re focusing. If you’re all communicating on Slack, make use of statuses ( for example), and the ‘away’ feature. Don’t feel pressure to always respond right away, that way lies madness.
It’s especially dangerous if you check Slack on your phone before being dressed / having breakfast. It really easy to then just open up your laptop to quickly help somebody out, and before you know it, it’s 1pm…
That’s really interesting, @tony! I make sure I do the 1st part: get into clothes to work, but I’d never thought of the importance to change after work… Thank you!
Like @Linda, I stay away from social media during the work day, and only my wife knows the passcode to my strict 30 minute iPhone ScreenTime limit on social media / entertainment apps
I have a really hard time stopping at 5pm, and often work until it’s time for dinner, then hop back on the computer… But often, it’s because I feel I haven’t “paid my dues” enough during the day: I use the excellentRescueTime app (http://rescuetime.com/) to gameify my productivity, and when I haven’t met my goal, I catch up. But I have to remind myself that folks in an office probably wouldn’t feel that need, even if they had spent 1.5 hours chit-chatting with colleagues throughout the day.
I’ve worked from home on and off over the past 15 years. Sometimes on my own projects for 6 months at a time, so for me it’s something I love. I thankfully don’t suffer from motivation issues like some others. But my tips are:
Treat the day like you would a normal ‘at the office day’;
Wake up at the same time.
Get dressed in the same way.
Take lunch at the same time and for the same duration.
Finish work at the same time.
For me this extends to going for a walk to grab a coffee before I start work for the day. Then, coffee in hand, I sit at my desk and it feels like a normal day, so all of the subtle ‘work triggers’ kick in and I get busy.
Being aware to ‘not work non-stop because work is right there’ was a challenge in the early days, but once I started following the ‘treat it like I’m at work’ routine, it was easy.
Aside from that, I play music out loud instead of through headphone, but otherwise it feels like a normal work day
I really appreciate your tips, as I feel more comfortable seeing I am not the only in need for a strict organization. I tend to set alarms for whatever I need to do (wake up/shower/breakfast/start work/meeting/lunch/etc/stop work), which in turn does not let much room for unexpected events… being now at home with my kids and responsible of their lessons, I am quite on nerves these days.
Anyway, on a daily basis I tend to constantly have a cup of coffee close at hand, and listen to the same albums each and every day (did you hear about new MBR record? )
Hi I have a question. It’s not directory connected to work from home but I’m curious about Motion Capture situlation around the world. I’ve heard a lot of company actually suspend Motion Capture shchedule. So how’s your company going at that? Using compact scale Motion Capture like MVN and capturing at home?
Thanks for your question - Since Shotgun Software isn’t directly involved in Motion Capture work (although some do use our software for planning and review), I’m not 100% sure how they are working during this time. If anyone in the community is from Motion Capture, let us know how you are managing!