by Imran Malek, 🐤

100% realistic depiction of an actual Boston apartment (image source)

100% realistic depiction of an actual Boston apartment (image source)

<aside> 📆 Update 2020-03-12-1155: Added a section on Security, moved VPN topic there



With the WHO's recent declaration of a pandemic and the litany of school closures happening due to COVID-19, many law schools are shifting the rest of their classes this year to remote classes conducted through services like Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, or WebEx.

As a former engineer who spent a lot of time working remotely, there are a few things that I've picked up from experience and from reading various productivity/business books that I think would be useful to share.

Getting started

The first few days of working from home are, admittedly, pretty great. You get to wake up in your pajamas, pop your laptop open wherever you want (including from the warmth of your bed), and just lounge at your own pace. If you're like me, you'll also simultaneously realize that your productivity ends up taking a nosedive because your mindset hasn't switched over to 'work mode'. Here are some ways to flip the switch and get your brain going.

Put your damn pants on

I'm going to start with what is arguably the most controversial opinion - even if you are planning on working from home, you should ditch your PJs. Yes, they are comfortable, yes, no one is going to see you anyway, and yes, you'll end up having another pair of clothes to wash when you do laundry, but when you wear clothes that you typically go to school in, you'll find yourself more amenable to working as opposed to lounging and watching netflix while your textbook is open in front of you.

Set the stage

In our constantly connected "always on" world, I think we generally take the notion of environment for granted. That said, there's a reason why we consciously or subconsciously prefer that table in the student lounge, that coffee shop around the corner, or that group study room - it's because we are likely to gravitate to environments that we can explicitly classify as "work" places. When your at home, you can accomplish the same goal by designating your own "work" space where the only thing that you do in that space is work. So if you have a kitchen table, dedicate one seat on table as your "work" table, or arrange the furniture in a specific way when you want to work. You could even go as far as pulling out your notebooks/book stands and arranging them when you're ready to get started, and then subsequently disassembling them when you're done for the day as a step to clear your mind. Create the environment that gets you into the "flow state" faster.

Get energized

Commuting often plays role additional to getting you where you need to be - it also helps you get in the right head space to take on the day. Whether you listen to music, read a book, put on a podcast, or exercise, it's important to keep doing those things so that you can (to borrow a term from chemistry) build up enough activation energy to get working.

Keeping things going

Now that you're on your way, here are a few ways to keep on track while the world continues around you.

Establish boundaries

Many people think of working from home as the equivalent of having a day off, thus giving friends family, and roommates the opportunity to barge in when it's a nice day and say "hey, why don't you get off the computer and enjoy some sunshine with me!" Avoid this temptation entirely by establishing boundaries - it could be something as simple as saying "When I have my headphones on, please don't bother me" or as intricate as sharing a calendar with the people close to you to let them know that these are your work hours.