Working and learning Remotely

Hey guys, I wrote a blog post on working remotely.

I’m interested in hearing from all of you about your experiences so far.


“I are not a neuropsychologist.” :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

But I like to pretend I am. Or something. In any case, when getting on a self-righteous rant against libertarianism and similar philosophies, I think about the myth of the “self-made {man, woman, etc}” and ask “Oh, you were able to stand a few hours after birth, and forage for your own food within a week? You NEVER went to school? You fully expect at age 80 to not need anyone else’s support? Do tell!”

So, my point is that we are biologically hard-wired to be a social animal. So, while, like you, there are times when I can still “go all Zen” and become one with the code, the machine, the music, or what-not – though that’s getting harder with age, extended self-isolation for for the non-sociopathic makes it hard to keep rhythms and routines. We rely on the “rest of the band” to give us the beat, the energy, the subtle harmonies, the interesting riffs and unexpected improv…

Getting to what you actually asked about, personal experiences: Very varied. :wink: I actually got sick with a run-of-the-mill cold just before we went into full chaos. So, I’m a week ahead of most people self-isolating. I am now close to day 30 of my captivity. :wink: But now I’m only working part-time.

Aside from the “creating and updating physical lists”, the rest has always been my routine long prior to COVID-19. Changing environments is now sort of impossible, and exercise – which for me has always involved traveling away from home with a destination (movie, restaurant, friend’s place, etc.) as a reward – has taken a bit of a hit, but the rest of those habits remain, in one form or another. So. What am I up to these days?

  • spring cleaning: once every decade or so seems like a good idea, and to a degree, it is breaking up some monotony and providing a wee bit o’ exercise.
  • Zen-ing out on the deeply interesting a bit more, from time to time.
  • meeting more often with “the team” of our wee co-op, albeit via IRC, than I did IRL.
  • binging on Netflix, etc.

The biggest disappointment and self-surprise, which I started re-correcting yesterday: I had gotten far away from music for a very long time, but then, March 2019, I found my way back. Just before COVID-19, I was taking voice lessons, had purchased a bright, shiny, pricey, new silver flute, and was jamming with people 3-4 times a week. It was like oxygen to someone who didn’t know they’d been slowly suffocating.

But then, COVID-19. I stopped. Cold. I couldn’t seem to muster the energy to even practice, without the reward of getting to play with people. My bandwidth at home isn’t great, and it’s just not the same trying to make music over a wee screen. There’s a bit of a technical / engineering appeal, but I want music to be something that takes me AWAY from my tendency to geek out.

However, I finally got my home rig “adequate” enough to resume voice lessons yesterday. For three weeks I’ve been thinking about contacting fellow-residents of this apartment building, most of whom I do not know, and trying to incite a “balcony band” a la the Italians. I think I’ve found a way to do that from my cell. :wink:

And, it looks like the self-hosted Jitsi Meet server that I’m setting up for our co-op is beginning to work right. So, yay that.


P.S. Early in the crisis, I developed a decidedly unhealthy obsession with ranting considerably more than usual about the COVIDiot in Chief on social media. It may have been cathartic and occasionally funny – to whit, a friend coined the phrase “West Denial Virus” which made me envious because I had not thought of it first – but it was ultimately, REALLY unproductive.

I have been in quarantine for about two months. When I got back from my month-long travels in Europe at the beginning of February, I didn’t have immediate plans to travel. Obviously other plans that were hatching, like a spring break trip to visit a friend and PyCon 2020, fell through as things changed. So, in a sense, I got a head-start on finding my own personal balance with working and living “remote”.

You mentioned physical lists in your blog post. This has also really helped me. Each night or first thing in the morning, I write my “daily goals” list of things I want to accomplish each day. Half of the list is things like "breakfast & coffee, “change clothes”, “brush teeth”, “play Animal Crossing”, etc. The other half is more “serious” tasks related to work or my two online classes. This has helped me prioritize my self-care habits equally with more routine working and studying. By the time I sit down to actually start “work”, either a fourth or half of my daily goals are crossed off already. Maybe it is meaningless, but I’ll take the endorphin high. :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes: I think it helps me not feel so overwhelmed when I start on the more mentally-demanding things.

Reading before bed and maintaining a somewhat routine sleep schedule also help me. I think they go hand-in-hand too. For the last two years, I got into the habit of charging my phone at night in a different room from where I sleep. This makes it easier for me to avoid falling into The Social Media Trap™ where suddenly I have lost two, three, sometimes even four hours just scrolling through Twitter and Instagram (Facebook when I still had an account too). Charging my phone in another room at night makes it easier for me to actually fall asleep because it doesn’t keep my mind stimulated and active. I can lie in bed and read my book in dim lighting, and eventually, I do get tired, put in the bookmark, turn off the lights, and fall asleep in maybe 15-30 minutes after.

Another habit I have followed for a while is aggressively keeping my “tab count” down on my browsers. I used to have several windows with tens of tabs each. This always made context-switching hard, especially if you are flipping between things like school, work, personal browsing, email, messaging clients, etc. So I keep my tabs to a minimum. I do this by aggressively bookmarking things I can’t read currently or want to come back to later. I also have a Trello (soon to be replaced by Taiga) board where I have a virtual to-do list. Sometimes I create a card on my Trello board and paste a relevant link there for me to follow up later when I have time. Also, my Zen of i3 philosophy has helped me reduce the cost of context-switching by actively categorizing my windows and tasks into different workspaces:

These are some of the things that have been working 80% of the time for me. Sometimes I fall through on things, like today when I forgot to write my daily goal list. But I try not to beat myself up about it and be patient, since nothing about the current situation is exactly “normal”. One day at a time. :slightly_smiling_face:

Curious to hear what is working (or not working) for others too. :pray:

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