Working from home sounds sweet until your dog drools on your keyboard, your partner’s chewing starts to irritate you, or you go a little stir-crazy from cabin fever. Trust me; we’ve all been there.
Now, don’t get me wrong; remote work is absolutely amazing. It provides you with flexibility and freedom to work on your own terms and on a schedule that works for you – which is at the top of most people’s list. Oh, and you get to skip out on commuting, which is a nice added perk.
But, it’s still a new and big adjustment to your normal lifestyle. And the pandemic is not making it any easier. That’s why you’ll have to find ways to make your remote-working life a productive and positive experience. The key is to figure out what works best for you and adopting those new strategies to your day-to-day routine.
Here are some great strategies and best practices that you can adopt to help you stay motivated and maintain balance while working from home.
1. Get changed and establish a morning routine
Don’t underestimate the power that getting changed has on your productivity. That association helps you get into the right mental state to be productive. In other words, working in your jammies is a no – go, sorry. Now, this doesn’t mean you have to get into a full pantsuit to get work done. Simply taking a shower and getting ready as you would for the office will get you into that work mindset. Essentially, pretending like you’re going to work or establishing a morning routine is major to getting started on the right foot.
Personally, I usually shower, make some coffee and change from my sleep pyjamas to my daytime sweat pants, and I am ready to tackle my day – motivated and comfortable.
2. Set a work schedule
Set yourself up for success at home by setting a work schedule. Establishing a routine and work hours keeps you productive. The beauty of working from home is that you can find the times you’re most productive and determine your work hours around that. Also, establishing clear work guidelines helps you set boundaries with yourself and others. This way, you have a clear start and end so that you know when to call it a day. It’s as important to maintain a work-life balance while working from home as it is working from the office. Try not to blur those lines.
If your role is collaborative, you’ll also want to ensure that you’re on a similar schedule to your co-workers. Enforce a hard limit at the end of the day and share your remote work schedule with your co-workers, teams, and boss so that they know when they can get a hold of you.
3. Designate a workspace
In the perfect work from home sitch, you’d have a separate office room with a big beautiful deck and two monitors. But that’s not always the case. Find a spot in your home that’s separate from leisure and designate that as your workspace – this is another mental work association productivity tip (that’s a mouthful, but I think you get the point). Needless to say, working from your bed or couch will not be great for peak productivity. A desk in your bedroom, your kitchen bar, or your dining room table can all be examples of spaces that can work for you.
Setting up a designated office space also keeps your home and work lives separate. This separation helps you turn off after your work hours are done. Oh, and get yourself a good chair or a yoga ball and keep that good posture.
4. Keep a to-do list
Create a list of tasks for your day so that you commit to priorities and deadlines. Every morning you should review your to-do list and stick to it. It can still be flexible as things arise, but this way, you’ll be clear and focused on what you need to accomplish. Setting goals, timelines and time limits for tasks will also keep you on that productivity train (choo-choo, amirite?).
It’s also just incredibly satisfying to cross off that task off your list once it’s completed.
5. Minimize distractions
Fewer distractions equal, more efficient work. The math is pretty clear here.
And since most distractions are at our fingertips, you should reduce the temptation. Merely make it a little harder for you to access or see them. Sign out of your social media accounts, remove notifications or put your phone away. If you’re worried about self-control, some apps can block any websites or apps you want for a desired amount of time.
In University, I used a nifty app that would block me from going on all social media and youtube for a chosen amount of time on all my devices – my grades may have suffered otherwise.
Another trick to staying focused on the task at hand is by setting yourself a timer designated to that one thing. Once the timer is done, you can take a little mental break.
6. Communicate – a lot!
You’re away from your work peeps, which means you can’t exactly swivel your chair around and ask Susan your pressing question. I can’t say this enough – communication is key when your team is working remotely. Set expectations together on how often you should check-in and schedule catch up calls. You should also be open to impromptu conversations as new challenges or questions arise. Schedule virtual meetings with team members you’re collaborating with to make sure you’re on the same page.
7. Take breaks
When setting up your work from home schedule, ensure to include so much needed breaks. Try and spend that time away from your “office space” by going outside, walking your pup, doing some chores, making food or watching a quick show on Netflix. Or hey. even take a nap if you need one. This is your time to clear your head and reset your focus. It’s easy to feel guilty taking breaks since you’re already at home, but these breaks will help refresh your mind and make you feel better, so it’s ultimately a win-win.
We’ll all face unique challenges while working from home, so we hope these strategies will help you find what works best for you. Even if you’re a long-time remote worker, the COVID-19 pandemic has made circumstances a little different. The added challenge of social distancing and not being able to work from your favourite coffee shop can be isolating. So, you may also benefit from re-evaluating your work from home routine and add some new strategies to stay motivated.
Here are some bonus suggestions to help you stay productive and help you thrive and stay happy at home.
When working from home, you’re missing out on those water-cooler chats with co-workers that bring some much needed social connection. The small talk helps energize your mood and breaks up your workday nicely. Try staying in touch with co-workers, not only for work chats, but casual chit chats as well through calls, text, or funny Slack channels. Here at Oomple, our team plans a weekly team lunch where we chat and play virtual games (no business talk here). It’s a great way to stay connected while separated by distance and maintain our team bond.
Also, socializing with other friends and family throughout the workday is allowed, too – it’s actually encouraged! Having quick phone chats or walking with others is beneficial to your mental health, especially if you’re working solo.
9. Make a cool playlist
Some good chill background music will help you stay focused. Or, if you’re like our web developer, you may prefer some intense EDM tunes to get you in the zone. Whatever floats your boat. You can also create an interactive Spotify playlist with your team, where everyone can add their favourite jams. Then you can all listen to fresh music and feel connected to your team as well; it’s a double whammy.
10. Stay healthy
I’m all for treatin’ yo-self here and there. But when working from home, it’s easy to walk into the kitchen, reach for unhealthy snacks and fall into unhealthy habits. So, instead, load up on some healthier options to have at your disposal at home. Eating healthy most of the time, and staying active will help you be your best self while working from home. The British journal of psychology shows that eating fruits and veggies has a direct link on overall productivity, engagement, creativity and happiness.
Working from home is yet another opportunity to schedule regular exercise within your days. There are so many online yoga classes and workouts that you can follow and try out. You can also set yourself some running or biking goals if that’s more your style. Doing activities that you enjoy and staying healthy will make working from home more positive overall.
If you’re looking for remote work opportunities, check us out – Oomple. We connect freelancers to companies that need them and help you find the perfect contract – including work from home contracts!