In this issue, we talk with Saee Chaudhary, Analytics Consultant at Absolutdata, about working from home, staying productive, and picking up new hobbies during the lockdown.

Adjusting to Telework … and Gardening


How does it feel to work from home on an extended basis?

SC: Working from home has been a different experience. At first, there was a curve: no hurrying to reach the office on time, no worries about traffic – and definitely no schedule of when to log off for the day. I felt exhausted.

Now I have a routine and sticking to it has given me a lot of free time every day. It’s not an exaggeration to say that I am loving this extended work-from-home routine and I am excited to see what more I can do during this time at home.

Workwise, I have become better at planning my day; I can accurately do an effort estimation and I feel I’m better at communication now. Plus, all the time that I used to spend travelling to the office is put to work and I can get more things done.

On the personal front, I have more time with my family. I finally can enjoy a sunrise, sipping coffee without worrying about being late to work. 😊  I have been exercising more and reading more. And I finally learnt cooking, too.

What do you do to stay productive when working from home?

At the beginning of lockdown, I came across this quote: “If you don’t come out of this lockdown with a new skill, a new side hustle, or new knowledge, you never lacked time. You lacked discipline!”

I know this is bonus time and it might never happen again. I have always been a check-box type of person; every morning, I make a list of all my daily tasks – work and personal – and (try) to check them all off. In the beginning, I failed to follow through on this plan. But I continued, and after 5 months at home, I have reached about an 80% success rate. It’s progress!

I guess we all have different tricks up our sleeves to stay productive. What I have realised is that if we improvise and make whatever we plan more fun, it is not a burden.

Plus, my teammates are an absolute delight to work with and we all have tried to be better at communicating with each other. That helped reduce turn-arounds.

Listening to podcasts has monumentally helped me stay on the right path and be more productive, thanks to Joe Rogan. Another factor was to know I had other things planned for the day and that I had to finish my work in the set time. The excitement of doing what I love later in the day helped me stay focused and finish work faster. Celebrating small wins also keeps me focused.

How do you strike a balance between work and family?

Striking a balance is difficult. I failed so many times at trying to put work and family in strict schedules. I don’t think I do that anymore. What helped me in improvising my daily routine. Each morning, I know how my workday looks and I plan my other routine around it. If I know I have a meeting starting at 9 a.m., I wake up at 7 and spend a peaceful morning with myself and my family first.

I made a list of all the interesting things that I’ve always wanted to do and started doing one a day. For example, I wanted to see 7 consecutive sunrises and I wanted to learn cooking.

My family is a big support in ensuring that my enthusiasm stays throughout the day and that we celebrate small wins. 😊 We’ve even started gardening together. And date nights with my husband have helped me stay happy on gloomy days.

It’s not about an exact balance but more about my family and work complementing each other. This extended lockdown has helped me strengthen my relationships with my husband, my parents, his parents, and with everybody at home. I’ve realised how everything has a significance in life; I’m more aware and my perspective has widened.

I spend 2 hours on myself daily, meditating, exercising, journaling, and practising mindfulness. I now have far better alignment with myself than before. Lockdown made me realise where I was going wrong and how I was chasing some not-so-important aspects of life. Now my weekends are strictly for family, and I ensure that I do justice to their time as well. I have learnt how to steal little moments of happiness and cherish them.

How do you de-stress during a lockdown?

Reading calms me. It’s my way to connect with myself and relax. Lockdown mornings were best suited for me to read and then begin my day. It helped me ponder what I read throughout the day and let it seep into my consciousness. I was fortunate to have my tiny collection of books at home and available all the time. I started reading 50 pages a day; now I’ve built up to enjoying 200-250 pages a day.

Doodling was another hobby I picked up during lockdown. I tried multiple art forms and doodling somehow fascinated me the most. Repeating the same patterns, the same lines over and over calms me instantly. I usually end my day with some old Hindi songs and a quick doodle. I see myself being more patient and creative since I’ve taken up doodling. I’m sharing some of my works for you to enjoy 😊

Gardening, too, has connected me with my family. My mother is absolutely passionate about gardening. At the beginning, I wasn’t really a fan of touching mud, but over time I grew fond of it. I started growing my own vegetables in the balcony. Sitting by my plants, basking in the morning sun while planning my day, is my favourite me-time.

Lockdown time compelled all of us to re-focus on what we really want in life. For me, I needed this time to understand what I truly enjoy and why I hadn’t done it yet. Somehow, I feel that I am humbler now and that my brain and my heart are more fully aligned.

Any tips that you’d like to give to others for smooth sailing during this time?

What worked for me is finding what I like and finding what I’ve always wanted to do (but my lazy self kept me from doing). One routine or plan for everyone won’t work, like diet plans. 😝  Each person has to figure out what they want to accomplish with this extra time, whether it’s picking up a new hobby, spending time with family, or learning a new language – every person needs to decide it for themselves.

As far as working from home goes, decorating your work setup and personalizing it helps a lot!! We can’t go out, but a simple phone call can keep us connected with loved ones. Stay safe and use this lockdown time to help yourself become better.