Learn how to create healthy remote working habits that let you work productively.
Have you ever woken up feeling like you have been run over by a truck, only to notice you fell asleep at your laptop.
Remote work has been an invitation for overachievers to work even more thereby forgetting, about their personal life.
As you will soon see, there are other roads to discover.
In this guide, I will show you what you can do in order to stay productive, without hitting your head on your keyboard.
Lets start by looking at how you get up.
Start your day with a morning routine
I know, I was also surprised.
But that's the way it is.
Now, that we've got that out of the way, lets continue.
Finding yourself working away from the home office most days may seem like a dream come true—and it is.
The freedom of having no commute and being anywhere in the world your laptop battery will take you is an amazing feeling. It's also an opportunity for complete freedom to dictate your own schedule, which means you'll have to find ways of coping with this newfound independence.
A successful routine will not only help you become more productive, it'll also help lower your stress levels and make your remote experience as seamless as being in an office setting.
With all this time on your hands and nothing holding you back from getting started on that important project, what's there to do? How can we avoid distractions and stay focused?
The answer is: establish a routine.
Here is how.
Multitasking is a myth.
There's no such thing in your brain as the ability to effectively focus on multiple things at once, and trying to do so can easily lead to some of these undesirable results:
- You start doing one task more poorly because you're thinking about another task
- Your stress levels rise - there's nothing like the anxiety of trying to get all your work done while also eating dinner with your partner or taking care of some other domestic responsibility
- You spend more time than necessary between tasks simply because you're distracted (many people say they multi-task, but really they "task-switch")
The solution is simple:
don't try to multitask.
A lot of people find it easy to become engrossed in a single activity for hours on end, especially when doing something exciting like playing a video game or watching an engrossing show or film.
You just have to be able to say "no" when things outside your main activity come up.
My productivity has gone up since I started saying "no" when distractions came along, and my quality of life has gone up too, I'm much less stressed out now and I feel like I've learned how better to manage my time.
Next, you should
Work in sprints when you can
Finding a good balance between taking breaks and working hard is the key to not burning out.
Sometimes you take on too much at once and end up feeling stressed, frustrated, or both.
When it comes to working while remote, this is especially true.
When you work remotely you have a few different options for when and where you choose to work as well as when or if you take breaks.
Here are some of the main methods I see as useful:
- Work in short sprints and make sure to take short breaks in between e.g. with the pomodoro technique 25 min. work + 5 min. break
- Taking your full lunch break at one time but
- splitting up your morning into multiple periods of work followed by a break each period
Set business hours for yourself and communicate them to others
Working remotely means defining the terms of your own productivity. It's easy to fall into a pattern of working until 2:00 A.M., but you'll feel better and more productive during the day if you set business hours for yourself and communicate them with others.
If co-workers, family members, and/or pets are counting on you to be available at all times, it can be hard to take time off when needed, or even just get comfortable taking breaks during the day.
If you're unable to take a break from work without feeling guilty about it, try-out working asynchronously—without fixed hours that you have to stick to every day. This is an excellent way for remote workers to avoid getting trapped in an unhealthy work cycle and treat themselves well by leaving work at work when they're done for the day.
You can also try-out setting up your Slack status so that only certain people can contact you outside of regular business hours.
This will make sure that people who need your attention urgently actually receive it while still allowing you a healthy amount of rest time throughout the week—no matter what your specific business hours may be!
In the following will look at where you are working.
Create your cozy work bubble
Once you've found an ideal location, set up camp. A workstation should be cosy and welcoming, not stiff and unwelcoming.
Find a place that makes you happy to go there and that gives you the space to breathe, relax, and feel at ease in your own skin (at least, as much as you can in such close quarters with yourself).
Try to use things like soft lighting, aromatherapy candles (or incense), photos of loved ones, creative figures or figurines—all of these can help add a personal touch.
You main goal is: get comfortable!
Whether it's a huge office chair with miles of mechanism beneath its cushy hide or a tiny stool that was made for children's feet many lifetimes ago, your seat is a really important asset for you.
Make sure your chair offers support while still being easy on your body—too much cushioning can be just as bad as not enough.
While you are in your comfy, working-zone don't forget to
Maintain human connection throughout the workday
If you're a remote worker, you've probably found yourself longing for human interaction from time to time during the workday. After all, when you're not with your co-workers, you don't have a captive audience for your jokes or the ability to ask someone to grab a cup of coffee with you.
At this point you are probably thinking:
"What can I do to increase the feeling of belonging?"
Here are some strategies I've found helpful:
Play casual games
This is a fun activity you can do with your colleagues, or friends. If you want to know which games to play, checkout my guide on fun retro games.
Call friends on the phone
This one is pretty straight forward. By calling a friend and talking, not chatting you will feel more social again and maybe even end up with a meetup for lunch, dinner, or a fun outdoor activity on your next weekend.
Take breaks and go outside, even if it's just in your backyard or in front of an open window
Whether you're working from home or in a remote office, every day is going to start feeling the same if you don't take regular breaks. The same goes for people that work from coffee shops or co-working spaces.
Be realistic about what you can accomplish and give yourself grace if you fall short
It's difficult to not want to accomplish every minute of your day when you're working remotely. It's just you, a laptop, and the Internet.
The temptation is there to dive in head first and get as much done as possible without anyone nagging at you for results.
This approach can be both healthy and extremely unhealthy in ways that will affect your productivity levels in the long run.
On one hand, if you find yourself with a task that easily fits into 1-2 hours (or even 15 minutes), it does no harm to get it out of the way early so that more time can be spent on larger tasks later (whether they be self-imposed or assigned by someone else). On the other hand, however, if taken too far, this method can lead to burnout and lower productivity overall—especially if "diving in" is paired with unrealistic expectations or too many simultaneously active projects (which is especially easy while working remotely).
Staying productive while working remotely is all about knowing how you best like to work and finding creativity ways to incorporate your preferences into a "new normal."
Productivity while working remotely is an art form. It requires creativity, commitment and self-awareness. There isn't one thing that will solve every remote worker's conundrum—in fact, there isn't even one right answer for what works for you specifically.
The key to productivity when working remotely is being able to be flexible, creative and knowing yourself well enough to find what works best for you (and then doing it).
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What do you do to stay productive?
Let me know in the comments.