Notes from a Small Country

Notes from a Danish lockdown

Day 2 of working at home while Danish schools and kindergartens are closed.

I and my colleagues are doing our part to slow the spread by not commuting to the office.

I went to get supplies from the local grocery store this morning and there was no bread and very little flour. The store was mostly empty. It’s not like this for every part of Copenhagen, but where I am in the north it appears people have gone on a spending spree for supplies.

We do have plenty of toilet paper which is nice.

I’ve worked at home on and off for 20 years, so I’m comfortable. It’s never occurred to me how many people are not comfortable moving from an office set up to a home office setup.

So while many of us settle or try to settle into working from home, below are 6 tips on how to get productive and stay focused.

1. Don’t assume everyone else you work with wants to hang out over video chat and replicate an open office culture.

If you’re more extroverted, working at home can be a challenge, as social interaction is lost. Yet if you’re more introverted it’s heaven, as you can quietly work without losing energy from lots of interacting with others.

If your company is encouraging even more meetings due to WFH, you could become less productive than ever. Make sure your manager knows your preferences. If you’re a manager make sure you understand your teams’ individual needs for effectiveness.

I’m more introverted and so the chance to WFH is like a dream for me. I miss it and have no problem not over-communicating. Yet many want that, as over-communication can lead to them being more effective.

Enabling the needs for all is the key, not shoving down one way for everyone.

2. Use techniques like Pomodoro for focus.

I’ve written about Pomodoro technique before and it’s terrific. It enables you to get the most out of the time you have.

Turn off slack, turn off Zoom, turn off the internet. Set that timer going and crack on with that task.

3. Don’t be available all the time.

I’ve just spent the last 2 days replying to messages on Slack, it’s crazy.

From Monday I’ll be back to normal and will ensure answering messages but not always right away.

It’s not about ignoring people, it’s about carving out time and focusing. Time is precious, and before you know it you’ll have spent the whole day going back and forth on email or slack or in video calls.

A good segway into…

4. Set boundaries.

If you need to work shifts due to shared parenting, then experiment and make sure your employer and team members know. With the schools closed, you don’t want to turn Netflix into a full-time parent.

So work out your hours, just like you do when in an office. Without this, you’ll be all work and no play, or worse, all work, no play and no parenting.

5. Cardboard will save you.

I don’t have a standup desk at home, so I put a cardboard box on my desk, and the laptop on top, standing to work for a couple of hours each day.

Sitting down takes years off your life. When you’re at home and not getting up and going around the office for meetings, it’s easy to forget to stand.

Before you know it you’re stiffer than a plank of wood and unable to move.

Use a box and stand up.

6. Be grateful

When times are tough and believe me they will be. Kids are off kindergarten, being stuck at home, grocery stores lacking basic supplies, it’s all coming.

Be grateful.

Each morning I write down 3 things I’m grateful for and a daily affirmation. Then in the evening, I write down 3 amazing things that happened and what I’d do differently next time.

I use the 5-minute journal for this, though you could just use paper or do it digitally.

It’s a terrific way to help set your frame of mind and be optimistic, knowing that you’re actually privileged and life is good.

Not everyone can keep their job and work from home.

Stay safe! And keep tuned for more updates from the Danish lockdown.

Here are some good resources to get you started:

How to work from home without losing your mind

Staying focused with the Pomodoro technique

Great tips for parents and non-parents from remote workers

5 tips for staying productive while working at home

Work effectively when you’re short on space

Tips for working in teams and being at home during Corona time


I hope you enjoyed this episode of Notes from a Small Country? I’d love feedback directly or in the comments. Which part was your favourite? What do you want to see more or less of? Other suggestions? Let me know!

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