Thoughts on an asynchronous work day
The morning clock was always the most annoying thing that can wake you up, seconded by getting from bed early. When I was in primary school, I had to wake up at around six in the morning, and to think that would be for the rest of my life seemed excruciating. Then came high school where I could wake up at 7.50, do the morning ritual, and be in class at eight, and that looked like a significant improvement. Then again in college, I often had class early and then in the afternoon which made it impossible to be productive.
Lately, I've been reading why the hell we have this 8h workday as to me it always seemed a bit too much for a developer, one can do 3-4hours of continuous thinking. I started to notice that it takes a toll on concentration and mood. Of course, it was much worse before the world wars, where work could span for 10-16h (:horror:). As a society, we definitely made progress in the last couple of decades. But then I hear one of the job applicant's story on how she hates her current job (teacher) because it's almost like being a robot (wake up at 5 am, work, sleep 10 pm). It's taking such a toll that she wants to switch profession.
But remote work is not like that! I think remote work is the most productive way to do things where you have to do isolated focused tasks. One of the benefits is that if you feel unproductive, you can take a break. In fact, you should because when stress levels are high, cortisol acts as a “dumb down” brain drug. On the other hand, I realized you have to have strong discipline. While you might think that discipline seems like a poor way to be agile and open-minded, it's more a way to stretch those moments that you have to be focused.
To become more disciplined, start with small steps. Going to sleep early, reading a book a week, exercising once a week, and so on. The funny thing is, as soon as you start one thing, another start to seem achievable.
So what have I learned in last year
When we started SCRUM, I was cranky, mostly because I lost control over my schedule (and even that schedule was imaginary at best). But, and this took me a while to realize, it gave me power with the things that were being rushed before. Like I didn't have time to plan the idea, conceptualize then make it work. It was all at once kinda a job, messy so to speak. I can now stop and resume work whenever I wish to.
And this gives me a way to again focus on different things. So I started to exercise, once a week, then twice a week, and then every second day. What that gave me is control over, those mood swings when you feel burnt from the problem you have been solving last hour. It's insane how relaxed you can be after a workout and what a great time it is to while exercising. These days I solve most of the problems on the bike. :D
Office. I hate that word. For me, it means you have to go somewhere to work. Instead, I prefer “work time.” What that means is that if you are working from home, this is the time that you are not to be disturbed. It took a while for family and friends to get that, and I don't have a great recipe on how to communicate that to people.
What strikes me the most after five years of doing this is that I didn't realize how lucky I am and how productive you can be when you have a little bit of discipline. As a side effect, you have this free time you might not have if you worked 8h straight.