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Day in the Life during Covid

Firstly, in this time of great stress and difficulty with many challenges across the world, we (David Rook & I) both realise how lucky we are to still have jobs and that those jobs can be done remotely from home. In some ways, these jobs greatly differ, in others, they’re very much the same. Although routines may sound boring or tedious, with the increased pressure, we’ve found they’ve actually resulted in more freedom and relaxation.

We figured it’d be fun to share how our routines look as we try to get through the “Crisis Working from Home” period. They’ve modified somewhat since the lockdown started, though outside of spending a lot more time at home, probably not as much as we thought.

Mark

07:00-07:30 :: Either I wake or I’m woken by my kids, but either way I rarely set an alarm. 

I have found that my routine is 30 minutes later during Covid, as before Covid, I was in the gym by 07:20.  I usually make a beeline for the coffee machine, where I seek out an espresso to wake myself up. 

Wake-Up-08:45 :: I check my phone to ensure nothing’s on fire. 

Following that, I make breakfast for my kids and then usually spend the time 

  • reading (I prefer to do physical books so my kids see me “actually reading” )
  • messaging family and friends back in Europe (some trash-talking with David typically)
  • and I check work email to ensure there’s nothing urgent.

08:45-10:00 :: Most days (I typically have 2 rest days), I have been doing my workout with my gym over Zoom for an hour or so. I sorely need this from a mental health perspective, with the added bonus of endorphins, seeing friends (albeit over Zoom) and staying fit.

I’ve built a gym in my garage over the pandemic period, including:

  • Squat rack
  • Pull-up bar (secretly very proud the lag bolts are still keeping the bar on the wall)
  • Plenty of plates & kettlebells
  • Plyo box
  • Med ball

so I’m able to do most workouts as per the official gym session. The next bit of equipment on my list is a Concept rower and I’ve been on a few waiting lists for a while now - I’m pretty anxious to get it so I don’t have to run as much :)

10:00-10:30 :: Work starts

This is where I usually also eat breakfast on the "go" and I hate to say it because it's quite stereotypical:

  • Protein Drink
  • Clean Bar
  • Eggs of some sort with toast :)
  • "Moar" coffee

Most mornings usually consist of meetings within the Security department and 1-1s with folks based in Europe.

I try to take 5 minutes between meetings to walk around my house, maybe go outside,  do a fun activity that my kids would like to do (I think at this stage my son is hitting 90% attendance of all my video conference calls) or I’ll go into my garage and stretch or do some deadlifts ;-)

12:30 - 13:00 :: Lunch. I try to have lunch with my family, sitting down with them to see how things are going, what they’ve done so far today and what’s coming up next. My wife has sacrificed an incredible amount for our family and my job, and seeing her also teach our kids during Covid has only increased that admiration. There have been many remote aspects (during Covid) that have been a success but remote learning has not been one of them, it’s been incredibly difficult on kids and very confusing as they go through this new social experience without their friends.

13:00 - 16:30 :: 

I usually have meetings with other parts of Riot during this time and 1-1s with Rioters local to the Pacific time zone.

16:30 - 18:00 :: Focus time where I try to wrap everything up that I needed to do today. This could be:

  • product prioritisation
  • architecture reviews
  • assessing workload planning from our DMs
  • reading internal RFCs or new proposed standards
  • Scanning some recent code changes or product enhancements
  • reviewing reports sent from team members on new products, security incidents etc

If it’s coming up to the weekend, I’ll have asked the team in Slack what their plans for the weekend are. I find it interesting to hear what everyone is up to and I believe it’s good for others to share the non-work activities (if they’re comfortable doing so) as it gets their mind off work.

If I need to chat with Rioters from Asia, I will do so in this time period up until 19:00 and move my focus area earlier in the day.

18:30-18:45 :: I log off work - so no more email or Slack. I often say goodbye in Slack, to let people know I’m offline. While I don’t read work email or Slack after this time, people know how to get me in an emergency.

20:30-21:00 :: Bedtime routine for my kids. This also has drifted at least 30 minutes during Covid but that seems to be the norm with most kids (as well as rules being relaxed for everyone’s sanity).

21:00-22:30 :: Downtime where I try to read and not play with my phone. I’ve found that I’ve stopped playing games after work during Covid, I believe it’s because mentally I’m exhausted after a day of meetings on Zoom/Google/Facetime and the last thing my eyes want is to look at a screen in a hyper-focused way.

During this time, I typically try time to stretch, meditate and use my HyperVolt to treat those sore spots from my workouts. 

22:30 - 23:00 :: Make my way to bed, where I read, usually a physical book or possibly one on Audible. I find that a physical book really helps me relax and prepare for sleep. At the minute, I’m reading The Dream Machine as my physical book and just finished Alchemy on Audible. We’ve an internal book club reading the excellent Building Secure and Reliable Systems, but that’s too technical for bedtime :)

Not as regimented as David but I find the routine has helped me get through this difficult time.

David

I’ve always been a very regimented person when it comes to my own daily schedule and the initial COVID-19/WFH/lockdown situation really threw me off. What I’ve listed below is what I’ve found works well for me nowadays. The routine I follow when I wake up and get ready for bed is the same as I’ve done for a long time now. I also eat a lot of food each day (that powerlifter life!) and whilst the amount of food has changed a little under lockdown the times haven’t.

05:00-06:30 - I don’t have a specific wake up time but it’s usually between 05:00-06:30. I’ve worked very hard on making sure I get a lot of quality sleep and I don’t set an alarm. This allows my body to wake up whenever it’s got enough sleep (usually 7-8.5 hours).

06:30-07:30 - This is one of my busiest hours in the day. Like most people the first thing I do is grab my phone and check emails and social media. I’ll usually have messages from friends and colleagues in the US waiting for me but I usually leave replies a while. I’ll reply to messages from Mark as he’s usually still on his phone at this time ;). I’ll then do a short meditation session (15-20 minutes) using the headspace app which really puts me in a good spot mentally for the day. If it’s not a powerlifting day I’ll jump on my exercise bike and do 5-10km riding.

07:30-08:00 - No coffee for me at this point, I’m British after all so I put a pot of tea on for myself and my fiancée. We will sit down and have breakfast together and have a chat about our plans for the day (nothing too fancy during lockdown!).

08:00-10:30 - I’ll start work at 8am most days and focus on clearing emails and slack messages. That usually doesn’t take too long so that’s finished in around 30 minutes. My team doesn’t tend to come online until around 10am or later so this is some of my most productive “alone time”. I do occasionally have meetings during this time but this is where I get work done.

10:30-12:00 - If it’s a powerlifting workout day I’ll have a coffee around 10 and go workout during this time. If it’s not a training day then the above time slot just becomes 08:00-12:00. I do some mobility work and use my theragun before and after working out.

12:00-15:00 - I cook meal number two for the day which is one advantage of being locked down. I don’t have to do meal prep every evening! I’ll check back in with the team on slack as they will have come online during my workout. I deal with emails and slack and then it’s back to work/meetings. If it wasn’t a powerlifting workout day I’ll usually go back on my exercise bike for a short ride during this time as well.

15:00-15:30 - Cook and eat meal number 3 for the day and take a bit of a break away from work. I’ve got a nice comfy chair next to my desk at home so I’ll just go sit there for a while and chat with my fiancée.

15:30-17:00 - Most of my US colleagues are based in LA so they start to come online during this period. This is the part of my day where it’s mostly meetings or a lot more time on slack as the amount of conversations/private messages pick up a lot!

17:00-17:30 - Assuming I’ve no late meetings (my US colleagues are very respectful of my time so I usually don’t. I put all the late meetings onto one day in the week) I’ll have my fourth meal which is just a protein shake and some nuts. I’ll have one last check of emails and slack and then that’s me done with work for the day.

17:30-19:00 - This is time to just relax and disconnect from anything work related with my fiancée. We’re both into similar things so we’ll either be gaming, watching Twitch streams, watching YouTube or some TV together. If it’s not raining we’ll usually go for a walk during this time.

19:00-19:30 - Cook my fifth and final meal of the day! My fiancée usually has the same as me for her last meal of the day just a smaller portion size.

19:30-21:00 - Back to hanging out with my fiancée but also starting my sleep/bed time rituals. I won’t bore you with all the details here but they include no social media, no checking news, definitely no checking work things and a few things that help me recover from training.

21:00-22:00 - Phone has airplane mode turned on and I usually put on my Normatec recovery boots for a nice, relaxing and beneficial for recovery massage. That helps me relax a lot! I don’t find that reading helps to relax my brain before sleep so I’ll just watch Twitch streams or YouTube videos until 21:30 ish or 22:00 at the latest before I go to sleep.

I hope this detailed overview of my daily routine is interesting to some of you!

Note:  Moved from my old site - securityleadership.ninja - originally posted on 2020-06-13. Joint post with David Rook :)

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