The transition from working in an office to working remotely is difficult for many people. Drawbacks such as distractions, isolation and lack of separation between work life and home life are the reasons why working from home requires a certain amount of self discipline.
If you are used to working in an office but have to work from home due to the current situation and are struggling with it, the following tips might help you.
1. Plan your workday
In order to work efficiently, you need a structured plan. Set targets for each day and write a list of tasks that you want to get done on that day. Do this either in the morning or at the end of the day before. Having a plan will help you stay focused and productive.
2. Start working early
Just because you work from home and you don't have to commute, doesn't mean you should start working later. Most people work more efficiently in the morning, so don't miss this opportunity. Also, the later you start working, the less motivation you will have.
3. Know when to stop
Being at home the whole time tends to blur the boundaries between work time and leisure time. Some people tend to start the workday late when working from home and then work with interruptions, such as house chores or conversations with family members and end up having to work until late in the evening in order to finish the workload.
You should work during business hours as much as possible and make sure you have longer periods of uninterrupted work, but also relaxation time at the end of the workday. If needed, set an alarm for the time when you wish to stop working and even if you don't stop immediately when you hear it, use it as a cue that the workday is coming to an end.
4. Create a designated workspace
If it’s possible, create a designated workspace at home. Using a separate area for work will help you concentrate better and when you are done working for the day you can move from your workspace to your relaxation space, giving your brain the cue that now it’s downtime.
5. Don't forget to take breaks
In an office environment it’s easier to remember to take a break, especially when others around you do it, but at home you might need to set yourself reminders to get up and stretch your legs every hour or so and go grab a glass of water. It’s good for your health and you will concentrate better afterwards.
6. Tackle distractions
One of the biggest challenges of working from home is that there are a lot of distractions, like TV, social media, noise made by family members, neighbors or pets, or the sudden need you feel to clean up the room or do the laundry.
Noise-cancelling headphones are a great solution if you have to work in a noisy environment.
If social media is what's keeping you from working, you can download a social media blocking tool.
If your family members interfere with your work, you can agree on a schedule with them and set up a few hours when you can work uninterrupted and then take a 10-minute break to play with your kids or walk the dog with your partner.
Last but not least, plan to do any house chores before or after work and try to keep your work area clean, so it won’t distract you while you're working.
7. Use technology to communicate
Working from home requires good communication and document sharing tools in order to maintain the same level of productivity you had in the office. After all, you can't just print a file now and drop it on your colleague's desk.
Luckily, nowadays there is no shortage of apps that help shorten your processes and increase your productivity and most of them are inexpensive and even offer free basic plans.
Some of these tools are:
- Zoom for video calls and video and audio conferences
- Dropbox for sharing files
- Slack for sending messages to your colleagues in different channels
- eversign for sending documents online to be signed electronically
- Evernote to write down notes and share them with your team
- invoicely to send and track digital invoices
- Google Suite for spreadsheets and documents that can be edited by multiple users simultaneously.
8. Stay in touch with your team
Human interaction is very important for all of us and working remotely can in some cases feel like a form of solitary confinement. The social aspects of working in an office, like greeting your colleagues in the morning, chatting while waiting for your coffee or having lunch together are missing completely.
Luckily, you can make up for this by staying in touch with your team members via video calls and chats. You can for example create a "water cooler channel" in your messaging app where you can share more personal stuff than in the official channels, like jokes or the latest silly thing your cat has done.
Another thing you can do to keep in touch with your colleagues is set up a casual video call with a different colleague every week. It doesn't have to take long, even a 30-minute call will boost your mood and make you feel less isolated.
We hope these tips will help you find your work - life balance when working remotely. If you have any other tips that have worked for you, please leave them in the comments.