5 Tips for Remaining Productive and Healthy When Working Remotely
The pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus has drastically changed the way people work, interact with each other, travel, up to the way they shop. Mitigating the spread of the virus has encountered serious issues, with cleaning supplies and sanitizers being hoarded, making them often unavailable to the general public.
As a result, many companies are issuing work-from-home orders. Plenty of people relish the idea of working from the comfort of their own home, imagining how much time they can save by not commuting – time that they can spend with family and friends, on leisure activities, or simply sleeping.
Often, telecommuting is idealized, and the negative aspects are ignored. You get to stay at home, but it is that much more difficult to concentrate on your work. The show you didn’t have time to catch, small tasks that need to be done around the apartment, or even taking a quick nap; all of these things are much more alluring than the job to-do list.
Additionally, the lack of socializing that happens at work can quickly lead to you feeling isolated. Here are 5 tips on how to stay focused and mentally healthy when starting to work from home on a regular basis.
1. Choose Your New Office Location
Try to set up your workstation in a room that is used mostly, or ideally solely, for work. It will help get you in the right mind-set for concentrating when you enter it; it will also help you relax when you leave it, knowing that you are off the clock. The mind is a complex thing, and habits and subconscious suggestions play a big part in how focused you are.
If you are working from the same place you usually use to relax, it will be that much harder to focus. More than likely, you will have to constantly refocus. This is a mental strain that will siphon your energy, making you much less productive in turn. Not to mention that your regular lounging area has a lot of distractions that you could do without.
Setting up a dedicated room to use as an office is not always a viable idea. The cost of living space, especially in large urban areas, is extraordinarily high and may be a financial investment you can’t afford. If possible, try to rearrange your apartment so that you get a small room for yourself.
Would your kids really mind that much if they shared a room? Well, probably, but having a yard sale and emptying a room used for storage or a garage is a possibility. Get creative with your space – see if you can get your very own home office.
If making a room into your home office is definitely out of the question, make a part of your room a dedicated workstation. Place your desk, PC, and other items you need for work there, and use it only for that purpose. As best as you can, keep anything that may distract you out of eyesight.
Whether you use a room, or a part of it, over time, you will see the positive effects it will have on your productivity. Disassociating work life from your entire home is imperative, and a dedicated workstation will achieve this. Once you sit at your desk, your mind will automatically switch to work mode, allowing you to focus; once you get away from it, it will be much easier to relax.
2. Share the Load With a Friend
Overly chatty co-workers are a distraction at work and can cause you mental strain in order to stay polite. Initially, it may seem like not having to deal with them will make your productivity skyrocket and your life much easier.
Working in a crowded office serves a purpose. Most people fulfill a large part of their human need for socializing at work. When you start working from home, it can start to feel like you are unimportant and isolated. Daily face-to-face interactions with your co-workers are important for your mental health and help develop a sense of camaraderie that can get you through the hard days.
Professionals who study remote work claim that the solitude caused by working from home is often overlooked, and can cause long-term negative effects on your psyche. Socializing is essential for your mental well-being and networking, so when working from home, you will need to put in additional effort to alleviate the negative effects.
The positive side is that most people in a similar position to yours are feeling the same, so it should not be hard to find a co-worker to chat about work-related issues. Alternatively, find a friend who does a similar job to chat with.
The conversations don’t have to be long or meaningful, they simply need to allow you to socialize while at work. Try not to use text or email when chatting – you will already constantly be sending reports and updates via different platforms. Using voice or video calls can make you feel closer to the person you are speaking to.
3.Think About How You Can Communicate Better
Working from home will require you to use the best software available; do not rely solely on email. There is a multitude of options available for collaboration and communication, other than email. Combining the use of Zoom and Slack, or other similar platforms, will fulfill most of your work needs.
Face-to-face conversations with your co-workers will be limited, so you will need to put extra effort into clearly communicating your plans. Screen sharing during meetings is advisable – everyone can be on the same page, and it will improve productivity. For most experienced remote workers, screen sharing is a given.
Organizing online dinner dates is an activity good for team-building. The team lead or manager can set up a weekly dinner date, where they order a pizza to everyone’s house. Everyone joins a conference call and shares a meal. This will help develop bonds necessary for an efficient team and allow workers to socialize outside of a direct work setting.
Working remotely can make you feel unheard, so you should put extra effort into presenting ideas and asking for feedback. Remote work en masse is new even for most managers, so they don’t get the feeling that their teams are feeling neglected unless directly spoken to. Give your opinions in a clear and concise manner – your superiors will appreciate your commitment to improving the company.
4.Structure Your Day
You will not have the organizational structure of working from a company office when working from home, so you will need to put extra effort into planning your schedule. Your schedule at the office is influenced by other people; while it can often be annoying to be dependent on others, the additional freedom you get when working remotely comes with its own challenges.
Dealing with the solitude caused by remote work is easier if you structure your day. You will still need to hit the deadlines set by your company, and possibly have to be online at certain hours, but the rest of the day is up to you to plan. Organizing your days may be difficult at first, but you can turn it into a strength.
Start with the most important events you will have this month and plan around them. Using a physical reminder will help you remember what you need to do and allow you to keep track of how you are progressing. Put a calendar on your wall and mark the dates. Even setting up simple reminders on your phone can help with this.
Keep track of how much work you get done per day, and plan your leisure activities so that you can hit the project milestones, while not overburdening yourself. One of the ways to maximize your efficiency is to work during your peak hours – the two or three hours a day when you are most focused.
Do the most difficult tasks in this time frame, and leave the simpler tasks for later. Never plan on multitasking during peak hours, as you will lose productivity. Your brain works best when focusing on a single task, and performing multiple tasks at once reduces not only the quality of the work, but also the output.
You work best when you are rested and relaxed, so plan for multiple breaks during your workday. Some of those breaks can be longer, and you can do some physical activity during them to get your blood flowing and activate your brain. Working from home means that it is up to you to structure your days – good organization can help you stay productive and safeguard your mental health.
5. Remember that Everyone is Different
It is important to remember that people are different, and not everyone will react the same to working from home. Managers should note that some people will find the change more stressful than others, and should try to communicate as much as possible. Solutions that work for others may not work for you, and that is OK – you will find what helps you adjust. Pick up tips from people with more experience and experiment a bit, until you find what specific setup suits you.
Interview with Elena Dimoska- Co-founder & CEO @ Ignite Global Media
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