We know you’re tired of hearing about all things working from home. So, it’s time we finally put this discussion to bed…right?
For those who’ve grasped the work-from-home lifestyle, what once seemed like an overwhelming transition isn’t so bad. But for employees that spent years of their ‘9 to 5’ onsite, it’s understandable to still feel out of place. When working remotely isn’t your first choice, finding the motivation to put your best and most productive foot forward can be challenging.
Sifting through articles and social media posts and searching for different tips can be helpful, but it’s not a foolproof plan. Watching your favorite socialite go about their daily work-from-home routine is entertaining, but how realistic is it? The key to optimizing your productivity in the workplace is to make this experience your own.
So what if you’ve had enough time to figure this whole thing out but still can’t? There are solutions to improve remote work, no matter how long you’ve been trying to tackle it.
Form a routine.
Did you know that your brain craves routine? About 80% of daily activities are on autopilot. Routines provide stability and a sense of control. A daily routine prepares you to take on the day with power and alleviates feeling overwhelmed when working from home.
When your commute to work is a 30-second walk down the hallway, it’s tempting to approach the workday while you’re still half-asleep. The simplest efforts go a long way. Try giving yourself a grace period before clocking in or dressing in something business casual.
For those asking, no, your favorite sweatpants aren’t considered business casual.
Remember that your routine doesn’t always have to be set in stone. Every day brings on something new, and being able to adjust the steps of your routine as needed sets you up for success. Don’t force yourself into patterns that you don’t see fit.
Take a look at this example – pick and choose what makes sense. Feel free to move things around in an order that feels right for you:
7:45 a.m.: Rise and shine! Okay…we get it…maybe you’re not a morning person. Give the snooze button a rest.
8 a.m.: Refresh with a nutritional meal, do some light stretching, or finish last night’s episode of Real Housewives you fell asleep to last night.
8:30 a.m.: Get remote work ready. Pretend as if you are actually going to the office. Especially on days you have meetings, it’s necessary to act the part.
9 a.m.: It’s time to log on. Check your inbox, reach out to your team, and make a plan for the day.
9:30 a.m.: Start the day with your more challenging tasks. Studies reveal that the first half of your day tends to be the most productive.
12 p.m.: Take your lunch break. During this time, feel free to get outside for a short walk and take in the fresh air.
1 p.m.: Check in with yourself. Note what’s on the itinerary for the rest of the day.
3 p.m.: Keep going! You’re almost there.
4 p.m.: Check back in with your team.
4:45 p.m.: Prepare for tomorrow and check your inbox once more.
5 p.m.: Log off. Enjoy your ‘5-9 before the next 9-5.’
Master your time and space.
Ever get lost in a sea of paperwork? One moment, the crucial document you need is in front of you, and the next, it’s nowhere to be found. Organizing and tidying up can prevent panic when something goes missing.
Use the same organizational skills learned at the office. Believe it or not, you can have filing cabinets, folders, and labels at home too! In all seriousness, continuing to use these methods at the home office helps you avoid an overlap between work and home life. Being organized ensures you’ll meet deadlines, make it to appointments on time, and remember meetings. That’ll be the last time you forget about a Zoom call and have to show up in your pajamas.
Clean your workspace with some all-year-round spring cleaning. Wipe down surfaces and find a new home for the dust bunnies. A clean space boosts focus and minimizes distractions. Decluttering your desk at the end of the day gives you a fresh start for the next day and avoids feeling overwhelmed.
Know when it’s time to clock out.
There’s no denying that work can be stressful sometimes. Especially when the office and home sweet home are under the same roof, teaching yourself how to leave the day’s stress behind once it’s time to sign off helps fight against burnout.
Remember, not every task is a trying one. Look at it this way; if you were working out of an onsite office, would you be sitting there glued to your screen and refreshing your email outside of operational hours? Just because you have constant full access to your files, computer, and whatnot, does NOT mean you’re expected to be on standby after the clock strikes five.
Working from home limits face-to-face interactions.
No matter how close you sit to your computer screen, that doesn’t make up for genuine social interaction. Sometimes, it’s easy to tell those around us to get lost after a day that presents many challenges. While having personal downtime is essential, interacting with those closest to you significantly impacts your well-being. Meeting up with friends, family, and even co-workers with whom you used to share office space promotes brain health and a sense of belonging.
In a dynamic job atmosphere, willingness to adjust and adapt is half the battle. Wanting to follow in the same industry footsteps you have been in for years is understandable, but success lies within the uncomfortable. Pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone instills productive habits and makes remote life more manageable. The effort you put in when the entire office isn’t there looking over your shoulder demonstrates professionalism and a sense of accomplishment. With that said, give yourself a pat on the back.
If your days feel too redundant or working from home gets a little too close for comfort, reevaluate. Think about what’s working in favor of your productivity versus what’s getting in the way of it and make strategic adjustments. The next time work decides to throw you a (learning) curveball, your efforts to optimize productivity will hit it right out of the park.
…Or just find a new job that’s in-person. That works too.