Working from home tends to go one of two ways, depending upon how we approach it. We can either find that our productivity plummets as we succumb to the lack of structure, or that our efficiency soars, as we embrace the chance to establish our own way of going about things! Research suggests that a well-formed telecommuter lifestyle can deliver improved efficiency and greater work yield, but that strategy is required to ensure that our minds remain vibrant and thriving.
Many of us have recently found ourselves telecommuting for the first time, courtesy of the Covid-19 pandemic. Others might be simply transitioning to a new work approach. After all, many dream of working from home! Whichever best describes you, read on to discover some great strategies that can make your homeward-bound career move a solid success.
1. Create A Designated Workspace
Much of the mastery in working from home lies in learning to switch from the home mindset, to the work mindset. Rather like a muscle, the more you practice and cultivate this ability, the stronger and more adept it will become! Setting the scene with a designated workspace will go a long way in getting you started. Rather than trying to type away at the kitchen table surrounded by kids, or under the duvet in your pyjamas, pick a quiet room or corner, and claim it as your work zone. Make the area pleasant, tidy, and organised, with everything you need to hand.
2. Be A Stickler For Ergonomics
Having mentioned steering clear of the temptation to work in bed, it is vital to address ergonomics. Wherever you work, you will be spending a lot of time in the same position. Sitting or lounging with poor posture won’t do your body or mind any favours at all! Make sure that your work set-up is not going to leave you with aching shoulders or a bad back. If necessary, invest in a decent office chair, a standing desk, and consider investing in a wrist rest for your keyboard.
3. Maintain A Healthy Sleep Schedule
Our minds require high quality R&R in order to function at their best. Making the shift to working from home might leave you feeling inclined to let your sleep schedule slide, but it is important to resist the urge. You might not miss the office, but you were probably benefiting from the regular routine that office hours afforded you. Poor sleep will leave you more prone to depression, and less able to perform cognitive tasks, access memory recall, and find inspiration. Make sure you get those Z’s!
4. Create A Get-Ready-For-Work Ritual
You most likely used to get in the zone for the day ahead over the course of your commute. Recreate this transitional phase of the day in any way you see fit but do figure out how to incorporate it. You could start your day with a quick stroll, to mimic your old walk to the office. Rather than swinging into Starbucks, you could enjoy a cup of coffee in a spot with a good view. Take a few minutes to help your mind pass from one state to the next!
5. Stick To Your Routine
If you have a video conference meeting at midday, you might feel inclined to stay in bed, but a lack of routine quickly becomes a slippery slope. Try to get started at the same time each day – just as you would in the office of an employer. If your workload dictates that you can take time off, schedule it on a calendar to help your mind distinguish the different functions within your day.
6. Schedule Regular Breaks
Without breaks, we can find ourselves staring blankly at a screen for longer than we’d like to admit or sneaking onto social media in a way that eats half our day! A few minutes of down time are valuable to productivity. Focusing on something else for a while can allow our brains to clear out, much like RAM upon a reboot, allowing us to come back to the task at hand, feeling refreshed and ready to start anew. Allocate windows in which you can hop onto Instagram, check your messages, or get up and move about. The rise of telecommuting has brought a lot of attention to the Pomodoro Technique, which promotes such mini breaks as a means to not only increase productivity, but to reduce stress.
7. Make Nutrition & Hydration A Priority
Without the formality of mealtimes, it can be tempting to reach for snacks rather than eating healthily. Because nutrition and hydration are essential for your mental health, choose to steer yourself into healthy habits. Stock up on fruit, nuts, and veg if you need something to nibble. Avoid using sugar to propel your day, as its impact will come back to haunt you. Keep water or herbal teas on rotation and let working from home enhance rather than harm your health!
8. Get Up & Get Moving
Working from home can leave us feeling extra-sedentary, as we not only work in a state of stillness, but no longer need to travel, or even leave the house! Keep your blood pumping, and stave off cabin fever by adding exercise to your routine. Whether you take walks, do a home workout, or head to the health centre is up to you.
9. Set A Time To Clock Out
Studies show that telecommuters tend to work longer hours than those working on site – around 1.4 more days per month than their office-based counterparts. This can be valuable to a point, but the risk of burnout remains just as real, even when we work from home. Avoid hitting the wall by allocating a clock out time at the end of each day and assigning yourself regular days off. Your mind and body will thank you!
10. Connect With Others Working From Home Online
Working from home is a fast-growing trend that is only likely to increase – and be retained as we emerge into a new post-pandemic status quo. Social media is full of groups in which professionals share and support each other in working from home and provide all sorts of tips and tricks. If social media is not really your style, consider building connections with other telecommuters from your company, or other freelancers in your field. Working remotely does not require a sense of isolation, so do ensure that you establish the right kind of support network from the get go!