Are you launching your remote work career? Maybe you found a flexible job that’s going to allow you to take that 9 a.m. yoga class you’ve been dreaming of. Or, perhaps you’re launching your freelance writing career.
Regardless of why, if you’re about to join the work-from-home crowd, there are a few things that will help prevent crashing and burning from the stress.
Setting Remote Work Guidelines
Your key to success is creating boundaries and routines for yourself. Sure, you could work in your jammies most days, forgoing a shower and healthy nutrition. But it wouldn’t be long before your productivity, along with your mental and physical health, suffered. Instead, try implementing some of the following tips.
Create a Schedule
Just like you would at the office, train your mind to get into work mode. Even when working a flexible schedule, you need to ensure that you’re creating intentional work boundaries on your day. For some positions, your employer will set those, even if you’re working remotely.
For others, that means sitting down with your calendar and mapping out how you’re going to get your 40 hours in. Otherwise, life will tempt you throughout the week to choose something more fun. “It’s just an hour or two, I can make it up” is a common refrain new flex workers tell themselves—until they find themselves needing to put in a missing 10 hours on a Saturday to meet their work commitments.
Take Your Breaks
Part of keeping a schedule is ensuring that you’re managing your entire day well, including lunch and casual breaks. Just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you’re not entitled to 15-minute breaks every few hours.
Studies have repeatedly shown that breaks are good for productivity and mental health. Bonus points if your break gets you some outside time as well. Along with breaks, create solid boundaries between work and home hours, just as you would if you had to leave the office to commute home.
Create a To-Do List
Even more so than in an office, having a well-planned list of tasks for the day is essential for your productivity. One of the most significant challenges you’ll face at work, regardless of where you work, is staying focused. At the office, your coworkers tend to be the biggest distractions. At home, it’s laundry, dishes, the neighbors, your dog…the list goes on.
Rather than have your attention sucked away, create your to-do list at night before shutting down. That way, when you start work in the morning, you have a solid plan for your morning. You’re much more likely to stay on track when you know what the first step is.
Plan Your Distractions
When creating your schedule, be realistic about when you need to turn your focus away from work. If you’re in a home office with small children around, it’s unrealistic to think that they’ll be content for eight hours until you flip the “Closed” sign on your office door—even if you have in-home childcare. What about your dog that needs to go outside? Or that laundry that could be going while you’re working?
Rather than take an all-or-nothing approach, plan out your schedule to balance your personal commitments as well. If you have school-aged children, that might mean scheduling free time when everyone gets home. You’ll be able to connect, hear about their day, and get them settled for your last hour or two of work.
Utilize Website Blockers
Without fear of a manager or coworker walking by, it’s easier to get sucked into the internet black hole. Figure out what your challenge is. For some of us, that means blocking out social media. For others, it might be current events. Still, others might get pulled in by that delicious-looking dessert recipe.
Since you can’t block the entire internet working from home, your best option is to limit access to sites that pose the most significant threat to your productivity.
One of the best things you can do is put on real clothes for your mental health and productivity. Sure, an occasional day in your jammies could be pretty relaxing. However, getting yourself “office-ready” helps ensure that you get your brain transitioned over to work mode.
It also ensures any impromptu Zoom meetings don’t result in embarrassment if your camera is turned on accidentally.
Interact With Other People
Do you occasionally feel like a bear coming out of isolation? It’s probably time to join the outside world a bit. For most roles, working from home doesn’t mean you can only work in your home. It’s easy to become isolated working remotely, so be intentional in seeking out people.
Schedule work out of the house regularly—perhaps in a coffee shop or coworking space. If the weather allows it, maybe you can take your laptop to the city park or even the balcony of your apartment building.
If you do have to work at home due to security or technology requirements, such as transcription equipment, make sure that you’re getting out of the house outside of work hours.
Boost Your Productivity for Success
Working from home can be incredibly beneficial for your work-life balance. Creating a thriving work environment means being intentional with your boundaries. Hold yourself accountable for fully showing up for work and shutting down for home time. Doing so ensures that your mental health and your productivity will thrive.
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