Getting work done is difficult while remote, especially with more surrounding distractions. Follow these helpful tips below in order to adjust to your out of the office environment.
One of the bigger challenges of the past year has been getting work done while remote. Although many might have cherished the chance to work from home back in 2019, the harsh reality is that without major preparations, remote work is a double-edged sword for most.
It’s difficult to successfully separate family life from work life, stick to your regular hours, and get motivated to work while socially isolated. When you do finally make the switch, you get the opposite problem of struggling to unwind and being more likely to suffer from burnout.
The option of working from home is ideal for those who need to juggle their work-life responsibilities with certain family responsibilities, like a new child or a sick partner. In the short-term, and with proper preparation, it can be incredibly productive while saving both the company and the worker a lot of time and resources.
But without the necessary precautions, remote work can be substantially more difficult than getting things done in an organized office environment.
Here are some important tips:
Start with a Productive Morning Routine
A thorough schedule can take the guesswork out of remote work and help you regain the sort of structure you need to remain productive – and it starts from the moment you get out of bed.
Start by setting up a consistent morning routine that leaves you awake, refreshed, and ready for work. The perfect morning routine begins the night before. Try to prioritize a consistent sleep schedule that allows you to wake up at a set time, preferably even without an alarm.
Our body clock responds well to consistent sleep, and once you incorporate great sleep hygiene into your life, you can start to wake up feeling ready for the day ahead. Consider a light ten-minute exercise routine to prepare your joints and back for the day. Try something small and simple, like a handful of desk job-oriented mobility exercises or beginner yoga poses. Even minimal exercise can help you get alert and ready for the first tasks of the day.
Regardless of how you set up your morning routine, consistency is key. Get a feeling for what you can and can’t feasibly work into your morning. Give a little leeway here and there, and stick to it.
Create and Stick to a Work Schedule
Past the morning routine is your actual work schedule – and here, too, consistency is key. Consider your crucial tasks for the day ahead and slot them into feasible chunks to encourage productive work. Rather than approaching the workday as a single unit, approach each task individually, and calculate roughly how many tasks you absolutely need to fill into the day, and how many you’d want to accomplish additionally.
A consistent morning routine and work schedule can also help you separate your home and family life from your work life and give you a strict boundary for when work begins and ends.
Consequently, avoid unnecessary overtime. Some things can’t be put off until the morning, but if you catch yourself constantly drawing your workday out, you’ll begin to blur the line between work and home life, and negatively impact your productivity in the long-term.
Identify and Insert Energizing Breaks
An energizing lunch break can go a long way towards improving your productivity by giving you a strict period of time to look forward to early in the day and use as a means to get in a quick meal, take your mind off work, and jump back into your next task refreshed for the rest of the afternoon and evening.
Ideas of energizing activities to try during break time include walking the dog, calling a friend, tending to a home garden, or doing a quick chore (if these help you practice mindfulness).
Try to Separate Work from Home (Physically)
If possible, consider setting up a home office closed off from the rest of the home. Turn a guest room or storage room into your new office and make “showing up at work” in the morning a part of your routine. Separating your work from home is an important part of building and maintaining the boundary between your work life and home life.
Another alternative to separate your work life from your home life is through a coworking space. Many businesses that have nominally reopened are still working at half capacity at best, in order to reduce the contact between employees.
Coworking spaces have become an alternative for employees and entrepreneurs who must work outside of the office but can’t feasibly set up a decent working environment at home.
Whether it’s an unstable internet connection, the many distractions of family life, or just the mindset of trying to get productive in the same space usually reserved for relaxation and unwinding, coworking spaces provide the perfect alternative.
Take Those Sick Days
We might feel inclined to do more work while sick when we’re working remotely, because our jobs are a little more accessible, and no one likes wasting sick days. But learn to differentiate between a small headache and something you should seriously take the day to recover from.
Treating your mind and body with care is an important part of staying productive – unnecessarily drawing out sickness can negatively impact the quality of your work.
Use the Opportunity to Expand Your Skillset
Cutting out an unnecessary commute can save you a lot of time – time you can put to good use elsewhere, such as in your own education. The world is rapidly changing, and any self-sufficient professional should do the best they can to learn about how their profession is impacted by market changes and new technologies.
Don’t wait on mandatory training periods to learn more – be proactive about your training and arm yourself with the ability to seek better opportunities wherever they present themselves.
Communicate with Your Colleagues and Managers Often
Social isolation and loneliness are more than just simple causes of stress for many workers – they’re also leading to the alienation between employees and their employers. If your manager isn’t proactive about establishing steady contact between colleagues and different team members, establish that contact yourself.
Overcommunicate and keep others up to speed with what you’re doing, track your tasks over the intracompany network or group chat, and make friends within the virtual office.
Identify and Eliminate Your Most Common Distractions
Many of us have our own unique weaknesses when it comes to work distractions. A crying toddler or a newborn puppy? Other distractions are more predictable and controllable, like the need to doomscroll or check your email.
Identify avoidable and common distractions and try out different measures to banish them, from working them into a reward system for your daily tasks, to utilizing productivity apps to eliminate these pesky bad habits.
End with an Evening Routine
The day should end the way it started – with a simple, easy-to-vary routine. Evening routines can help us shut off the “work brain” and create a boundary to eliminate and avoid work conversations and discussions until the next day and give us time to slip into a different headspace and unwind with the family before bed.
Structure and consistency are important for any productive working environment, and you can create both yourself, whether at home or anywhere else.