Posted By: Eli Chavarria

COVID-19 has presented changes for everyone in the world. We can all agree, one of the biggest changes is working from home. In order to be successful while working from home, your habits and routines might need to change in order to find success. We all face unique challenges in our lives, and with our different personalities and with various lifestyles and jobs, the core issues we face while working remote are the same. Everyone who works remotely has to figure out when to work, where to work, and how to create boundaries for a healthy separation between work and personal life. Here are some tips for a more productive remote- working life.

Maintain regular hours
Set a schedule and stick to it! Having clear guidelines for when to work and when to call it a day helps maintain a work- life balance. A benefit of remote work is more flexibility to start your day early or extend it. Automatic time tracking apps, such as RescueTime, allow you to check in on whether you are sticking to your schedule. This can also help you determine your most productive hours of the day vs the time you slack off. This information can be beneficial to know so you can reserve those most productive hours for your most important tasks.

Create a morning routine
Deciding to sit down at your chair in the morning is one and creating a routine that helps guide you to your chair is another. What in your morning routine kick starts you for the day and indicates that you are about to start work? It could be a morning yoga session to focus for the day or making coffee before tending to your to-do list. A routine can be more powerful than a clock helping you get started for the day ahead.
good morning coffee GIF

Set ground rules with the people in your space
Set ground rules with other people in your home or who share your space when you work. Make clear rules for what those living in your space can and cannot do during that time. Additionally, just because you are at home, do not let others assume you will always take care of the domestic chores. If you take it on by default because you are home, you may feel taken advantage of, and your productivity can suffer. Share the responsibilities with your roommate, significant other, and/ or your kids.

Schedule breaks and take them in their entirety
Learn your company's break times and take them! Give yourself adequate time during the day to work away from the computer screen(s) and phone. The standard full- time break time for US employees is a lunch hour and two 15- minute breaks. To take these breaks in their entirety, you can use an app to lock yourself out of your computer, or simply put a timer on it so you walk away. These breaks can increase your productivity and focus. Leave your home- to the extent where it is safe. Your body needs to move and the fresh air and light will do you well!
Super Bowl Sigh GIF by NFL

Ask for what you need
While working from home, whether it is a remote based job, or due to the pandemic, request the equipment you need as soon as you start working from home and realize the items you need for a WFH set-up. It is important that you set a precedent for what you need to do your job comfortably and with ease. The items you might need could include a monitor, keyboard, mouse, chair, printer, software, etc. Do not be afraid to ask for what you need in order to have the optimal success!

Keep a dedicated office space
Not everyone has an office in their home or two machines, one for work and one for personal use, but dedicating an area in your home for work can help your work life balance. For example, if you sit at your desk with your laptop plugs into your monitor and keyboard, it is work time. When you have the laptop on your lap, it is personal time. Maintaining a separate phone number for calls with clients and colleagues can also help this work life balance. You could dedicate work calls to a different SIM card or it could be a free VoIP service such as Skype, Zoom, or Google Voice. This way you can separate work and home life, but also allow yourself not to be distracted by your personal phone or social media accounts.

Socialize with your colleagues
Usually, the work from home/ remote work culture offers ways to socialize with your colleagues. Your organization might schedule a “happy hour" on Fridays where you can share a remote drink or talk about common interests or themes for the week. Once it is deemed safe, organizations could have meetups for individuals in the same region and in-person retreats. It is important to figure out how much interaction you need to feel included and connected to your organization and those in it. Give a few interactions a try so you are familiar with how they work and who is on them if you ever decide you want to join them in the future. If you are not in an organization with a strong remote culture during this time, you may need to be more proactive about nurturing your relationships.
happy hour drinking GIF by Angry Orchard

Show up to meetings, be heard, and get face time
While working remotely now due to the shutdown, personal choice, and/ or restrictions in your area, you will take part in conference calls or video conferences. It is also a good idea to attend optional meetings sometimes. Be sure to speak up during the meeting so everyone knows your name and that you are present. It could be as big as making a suggestion for your team to saying thank you and goodbye at the close of a meeting. While working from home, set up a video call with your colleagues or manager once a week to check in. Be proactive!

Take Sick Days
When you are not feeling well physically or mentally, take your sick time. If sick days are part of your compensation package, take the time off that you need. Not taking it is like throwing money away. It is always best to rest and get better so that you can be productive and successful long term.
sick mean girls GIF

Working remotely requires you to over communicate. Tell your colleagues and clients your schedule and availability. When you finish a task or important project, communicate that. One misconception about over communication is writing a step-by- step paragraph long essay to explain your every move. Rather, repeat yourself and repeat it often. You can joke about the holiday vacation you already mentioned several times, and then mention it again so that those in your workplace are guaranteed to know.

Be Positive
When you send these clear concise messages, many people might not know what tone you are writing them in. With less face time, make yourself sound positive to the point where you feel like you might be overly positive. Otherwise, you might sound like a jerk. Use your favorite emoji and the exclamation point to convey how your tone would sound in person!

Do not be too hard on yourself
The most successful remote employees have a reputation for being disciplined. It does take some serious focus to do a full-time job from an unconventional space. Everyone lets their attention drift sometimes. Do not reprimand yourself too harshly but think to yourself whether your colleagues in the office are doing the same thing while working remotely. The answer is yes, so cut yourself some slack. Always remember- balance productivity with self- care otherwise, you risk a burn out.

End your day with a routine
End your day the same way you started, with a routine. Create a habit that signals the close of your work day. It might be signing off on a business messaging app, walking your dog, or turning on your favorite podcast. Whatever you choose to do, turn off your computer before starting your routine and make it consistent to ensure you are ending work hours.
Over It Close Computer GIF by MOODMAN

Overall, you need to find out what works best for you when working remotely. It might take a few tries or inspiration from others, but remember we are all in the same boat. Supportive remote communities do exist. They range from a messaging board from your office to social media such as Facebook groups or the Twitter community. Sometimes, your routine could get too routine. Do not be afraid to shake it up to create a work- life balance and success while working remotely at home.

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