Are you finding it difficult to manage time while working remotely? Use these tips to improve your process and reduce stress.
Here's what you need to know:
- What works for one telecommuter might not work for another, so it’s important to try various approaches to find what works for you right now
- Keep a schedule so you don't work around the clock
- Get out of PJs and into work clothes, and work from a dedicated work space
- For productivity, reduce distractions and take scheduled breaks
- Try to get around 8 hours of sleep per night, and consider meditating before work
- If you're scheduling meetings, ask yourself: Is this critical or just more busy work?
- Give yourself healthy rewards for accomplishing work, and have others hold you accountable for working when you're supposed to
Whether working remotely is new to you or you’re a seasoned pro, there are many ways you can make working from home better and less stressful. However, keep in mind that everyone is different. What works for one telecommuter might not work for someone else. This means that it’s important to experiment, test out, and modify various approaches to find what works for you right now.
Also, what works can shift and change, especially in moments of uncertainty — like the present pandemic situation, or when big life events occur (such as a new baby!).
Below are the top 10 tips for working from home that are helpful to a lot of people. Try them out for yourself, and remember to tweak and customize them just for you.
There’s a reason a lot of people think working from home sounds like a dream until they actually do it — they don’t know the best approaches for time management. Tackle working from home like a pro and you’ll see why it just might be the best strategy for you.
1. Keep a schedule
This sounds pretty simple, but oftentimes one of the first things to go when you work from home is a routine and a schedule. You’re lucky if your work doesn’t require stringent rules like “clocking in,” but this can lead to working around the clock.
Set boundaries with yourself and with your coworkers, boss, and clients. Establish set working hours that align with what you’re expected to do (such as 40 hours Monday through Friday), and stick to them.
Set boundaries with yourself and with your coworkers, boss, and clients. Establish set working hours that align with what you’re expected to do.
2. Get dressed (kind of) like you’re going to work
Working in your pajamas or yoga pants might be the ultimate in comfort, but you don’t want to get too comfortable. When you get dressed for work, you’re cueing your mind and body that they need to shift to work mode.
3. Create a work space in your home
A work space doesn’t need to be a dedicated office and you don’t need a sprawling desk. You can customize even the smallest of spaces to a work space just for you. Avoid doing anything but work at this location — this will similarly cue you that it’s time to buckle down and delve into your work.
4. Reduce distractions as much as you can
Removing apps from your phone (or putting your phone on airplane mode, if that’s possible) and avoiding the ability to see your television are essential parts of reducing stress. A cluttered home can be anxiety-inducing for many, so making sure to clean the night before helps with focus when you’re in work mode. If you can’t reduce noise around you, invest in noise-canceling headphones.
5. Take scheduled breaks
Walking away from your work has been shown to actually increase productivity — as long as you don’t linger for too long.
Set an alarm for regular breaks to get up, stretch, and maybe get some fresh air. You can plan for mini breaks every hour, and also plan for 1 or 2 longer breaks for meals or maybe a yoga session. Walking away from your work has been shown to actually increase productivity — as long as you don’t linger for too long.
6. Prioritize sleep hygiene
Working from home and self-isolating might tempt you to stay up later than normal to finish just one more episode of your binge session; however, good sleep hygiene (including getting around 8 hours per night) is essential to practicing time management skills the next day. Create a bedtime routine that tells your body it’s time to slow down and relax.
7. Assess whether every meeting is a necessity
There’s been a boom in video meetings in the past month, but just like an in-person meeting, not every meeting is necessary. If you’re in charge of scheduling meetings (or have the ability to opt out of them), carefully consider if a meeting is critical or just more busy work.
8. Reward yourself
Mini rewards for completing a certain amount of work can be a great motivator — just make sure those rewards are healthy. Your small breaks throughout the day are a great reward, or you can also treat yourself to a tea or listening to a single favorite song after getting over a particularly trying work hump.
9. Meditate prior to working
Everyone has time for meditation. Even 1 or 2 minutes can be beneficial. Meditating in a quiet space where you can focus on the now through counting your breath is a great way to set yourself up for success.
10. Have others hold you accountable
Whether it’s a family member you live with or a colleague also struggling with working from home, if someone else holds you accountable for accomplishing your work, that’s a huge incentive. You can also work out an exchange to help them stay on task, too.
Time management is one of the biggest challenges when working at home, but it doesn’t have to be. With these 10 tips, you’ll be a telecommuting pro in no time.