Work on Things You Care About.
- Break your day down into small events or tasks, make a mental note note about whether or not you enjoyed each one -I you cannot identify any items, (or if all the items identified are considered negative experiences) then look critically at your current role.
Define Goals for Yourself.
- Sshare your goals with your colleagues or supervisor. They will learn what is important to you, be interested to support you, keep an eye out for you.
- Define goals you want to accomplish in short term (week, month) and long term
Define Productivity for Yourself.
- Feel satisfaction that your work was meaninful
- Create an accomplishment list - mention-worthy. Creates a better understanding of yourself, and what you feel happy and productive.
Establish Routine and Environment.
- Challenge: Your working environment, or lack of a routine, can destabilize the workday, and thus your productivity.
- Pay attention to the lighting, noise level, and comfort of a work space
- If you find yourself distracted by anything, change your environment. Habitual repetition by way of thinking about your environment or making explicit choices can lead to the establishment of longer-term habits. The more that you are able to repeat a behavior in a specific environment, the more likely it is to feel effortless.
- Creating a clear separation between times when you are working, and times when you are not.
- Include activities for your personal well-being (exercise, time with family, relaxation)
Take Responsibility for Your Work.
Challenges: If you are in a role that provides user-support, work on a team, or otherwise have a list of tasks set out for you, there is a tendency to be passive.
- Small annoyances that affect people on a regular basis
Share ideas & projects with your supervisor and team. Establishes trust.
Decide what is important. Crate a plan to do it. Execute the plan.
- New skills
- Feeling of ownership over work
- Solidifies how your team thinks about and consequently treats you
Your supervisor should not require tracking software to keep abreast of your every move because they have confidence and trust in you.
Take Responsibility for Human Connection.
- Feel included and happy
- Social isolation –> Feelings of Disconnected, lonely –> exhaustion
When newly remote, it is common to place the burden of connection on your team. If your team is not remote first,11 it is even more unlikely that there are established protocols and best practices for how to make you feel included and happy. Many of us learn this the hard way right at the offset of going remote. If we become disconnected from our immediate or even open source communities, it can feel terribly lonely and have direct impact on our well-being.9,34 In fact, social-isolation or exhaustion alone can trigger this same loneliness.32 In this situation, it is important to identify that there is a problem, namely lack of human connection, and figure out the kinds of human connection that are meaningful to you. You might first find comfort in the fact that feeling lonely is more common than you might think.36 You might then seek out human connection. Seeking human connection means attending virtual workshops, conference calls, or looking around for regular meetings that you could participate in. If you are looking for more one-on-one human interaction, you might see if anyone would be interested in having a virtual coffee a few times a month, or a virtual “happy hour” to involve others. The choice of group is up to you. While it is reasonable to consider your colleagues at work, what you are missing might be connection to friends or family, and so a regularly scheduled family meeting or even meeting online to play a game could be a regular event. In the context of work, you can also use the trick of sharing your work to pursue human connection. If you share progress on your projects on social media or Slack, it likely will open lines of communication with others interested in your work. Whatever your strategy, by changing your environment you can feel less lonely.38 As a remote worker you might live in isolation, but you do not need to work in it.
Practice Empathetic Review.
Software engineering requires a lot of technical communication. People have different expectations and incentive structures. Good Communication improves productivity.
consider cultural differences in communication. Succinct response is common in some communites & culture.
If a response is defensive, confrontational, or otherwise aggressive
- Use kindness, ask how you might help.
The quality of communication in an organization comes down to the quality of the individuals’ communication within it.
Introduce yourself yourself, describe the issue or change clearly, and make it easy for the other person to reproduce.
- Set an example which others will follow
- Feel involved in decision making
- Even if you define personal goals, establish routines, and do meaningful work.
You can do your best to define personal goals, establish routine, and do meaningful work that feels productive, but this does not always mean that you finish the day and feel that you were successful. This is where self-compassiond and mindfulness4 are important, as they have been shown to have positive impact on mental health and well-being.3 Self-compassion can broadly be defined as being mindful and forgiving to yourself.16 Having self-compassion means looking back on the experience of a day, and not egging yourself for everything that was not perfect. It is just a given that every day will not feel productive. You might try new routines that do not work for you. Instead of thinking negatively, you might consider that establishing your routine, or figuring out a hard problem, is a work in progress, and there is no real state of failure because you wake up and try again. I have found that it helps to try to imagine myself as another person. If someone else approached me with the same experiences and negative thoughts, how would I comfort them? It is very likely that I would react with compassion, and that is the same compassion that I must find for myself. If the source of criticism comes from an external source, although you cannot control other people, you can choose to respond thoughtfully, with kindness, and try to find humor in the situation. However, obviously if someone is in violation of some code of conduct, you should report it, and not absorb it quietly. Thus, self-compassion also means knowing when to stand up for yourself and say something. This advice is especially pertinent for women and other minorities in the work force who might experience subtle inequality or microaggressions.e
Learn to Say Yes, No, and Not Anymore. As a software engineer, engaging with projects can be akin to going to a candy store. Each one offers a rich set of problems to work on, people to work with, and new languages or technologies to learn. You might be someone who very easily says “yes” to contributing to a project, or generally providing help.10 While this is a really great way to grow as a developer and person, there is also a time to say no: when you do not have the bandwidth, do not share the vision of the project, or otherwise have a gut feeling telling you to do so.13 It is also okay to say “yes” but then scope your contribution to an amount that you have time for. Finally, what if you originally say “yes” and then change your mind? This is okay too. To maximize your productivity, maintaining awareness about what is on your plate, and when it is time to ramp up or taper down engagement is essential for focusing on the projects that are most valuable and important to you or your community.18 Choose Correct Communication Channels. When working remotely, there are many ways to communicate with others. In that people have different working environments and schedules, ideally the communication is asynchronous, meaning that you use messaging services like Slack, or issue boards on version control services like GitHub.f However, you should be careful to choose the method based on the needs of the communication.g Discussion that should be open and linked to code would be better on GitHub issues or Gitterh than Slack. A discussion that moves into a document might first do really well using a collaborative document tool like Google Docs, but after some hardening you might want to move it into version control. Sometimes a quick call is more efficient than trying to write out a verbose email.1 The important detail is that, whether you choose a video call, an email, or a Slack message, your choice of channel is appropriate for the needs of the problem that needs to be discussed, the degree to which the communication should be transparent and open, and your own level of comfort.23,29 If you are less comfortable with video or voice chat, you might section off specific time slots or days for it to make it a predictable part of your routine.
Links & Resources