Master Working RemotelyWritten by Tigre Haller
Ahhh… working from home. It’s the stuff dreams are made of, isn’t it?
No rushing around in the morning. No 5 minute shower. No scrambling to get dressed. No commute. No grabbing coffee. Pure bliss.
Time to hit the reset button... on reality.
You might have dreamed of working from home your entire career, but when it’s forced upon you, it becomes something else entirely.
For many of us, this came as a big, fast surprise. We were into our daily routine, even if we hated it from time-to-time, we knew what to expect. But, when stay at home orders were enforced, that all went out the window.
Chances are you were ill-prepared for the transition. Heck, what transition? Suddenly, you had to figure out how to make working from home work.
And, it might have felt like your head was in a cloud for the first few days, or maybe it still does.
You might still be struggling to really be productive and comfortable working remotely.
That’s OK. It takes a while to adjust to such changes. Read on to find out how you can master - or at least deal with - working from home (or any remote location).
Get in the Groove
Establishing and keeping a routine is perhaps the most important part of working remotely. It provides structure, and helps with self-discipline. Especially when it’s oh-so-tempting to stay up late and sleep in.
Take a moment to think back… back to when you had a set routine. Write down what you would do each night, and the steps you would take to get ready for the day. They might include:
- After work routine
- Dinner time
- Watch something or reading
- Pre-sleep ritual
- Wake-up time
- First thing you do in the morning
- Time you leave for work
These might seem like rudimentary - even mundane - activities, but they really aren’t. Humans are naturally creatures of habit, and as much as you can keep your life running the same as it did before, the better off you’ll be.
For example, if your “lights out” used to be 11:00 p.m. and wake-up was 6:30 every morning, it’s not exactly a great idea to push those times. Your body and mind are accustomed to the rhythm you’ve been following probably for several years. It’s actually more important to keep those set times now than it ever was.
It’s too easy to fall into slothful behavior. Staying up late, binge eating and binge watching, sleeping in. Turning into a caveman. Rolling out of bed and into your work station. Or, just camping out in bed all day - every day.
Messing with your ingrained schedule will wreak havoc with your mental and physical health.
Dress for Success
Oh, how tempting it is to stay in your PJs all day. Or your sweats. Or your shorts. Tempting, but not always appropriate for business.
How did you dress for work before migrating to the remote world? Did you wear a suit and tie, business casual, or completely casual? Whatever your preferred wardrobe was, be sure to dress the same way now. It will get you into the right frame of mind to start your day on the right track.
Even though you might be working from your kitchen table, the act of actually “going to work” is a powerful exercise.
So, after you’re dressed, try to leave your house at the same time you would if you were actually commuting to the office. Then at least take a walk around the block (local quarantine regulations permitting), and arrive at your remote office - ready to work.
OK, you might arrive an hour early since you won’t actually be stuck in traffic or on public transportation, but you can take advantage of this extra time. How many times have you said to yourself, “if only I had an extra hour a day….?” Now you do.
Try to have a video or audio meeting scheduled as your first task of the day. For example, at Beckett Simonon we have a team meeting promptly at 9:00 a.m. every morning. We would have these in our actual physical office, and keeping the continuity flowing has been an important way to keeping us all connected, and to starting our day together.
You might have a quick check-in with your team, or schedule a client call, talk to your boss, a colleague, or a mentor. Whatever it is, it should be at the same time each morning. Keeping connected is a great way to start the day and stay on task.
If you can’t schedule an actual call, consider listening to a podcast related to your profession, or a goal, for 15 minutes.
Even at the office it’s easy to get distracted. To get caught-up in a fun conversation, or go down the internet rabbit hole. But, it’s even easier when working remotely. Especially if your family is demanding attention at every turn.
Try, try, try your best to stay focused on your work and respectfully ask your loved ones to give you the space you need.
Leave the internet exploring or housework for when you…
Take a Break
Taking breaks every couple of hours is an essential part of being productive no matter where you work. So, let yourself drift away from work tasks for at least 10 minutes every two hours.
Get up, stretch out, move around, take the dog for a walk, play with the cat, talk to someone else in the house, or the house plants. Goof off, meditate, journal, play a game, do a crossword puzzle, make a non-business related call.
Any of these things will help you stay fresh and alert for when you return to your workload.
Yes, so many of us are too used to grabbing lunch and eating at our desks. Sure, that’s still an option if you get something from the kitchen and immediately return to work. But, ask yourself, should it be?
Why not take advantage of this time to actually get up, make yourself lunch, and eat it away from your work area? If you have an outside space, like a terrace or yard, enjoy lunch there.
It just might change your perspective on what lunch tastes like.
The workday is coming to a close. Finish up those last tasks, turn off the computer and your desk lamp. And go home.
What? I’m already home (you might say). Well, yes - and no. Just like you left the house to go to work, leave the “office” to go home.
Take a walk outside, or around the house, and arrive at your front door just like you would when coming home from the office.
When you “arrive” home, don’t go back to your work area, just like you wouldn’t normally return to your office.
Yes, it might seem silly - and that’s a good thing. Laugh at the absurdity of the exercise, but once you get used to it, you’ll realize it makes absolute sense.
Of course, you might bring work home with you on occasion (or every night), and if that’s your routine, continue on. Or, try to break the habit if you can.
Dynamics are different and paradigms are shifting.
These are just a few of the many things you can do to make working remotely work for you. We’d love to hear about what you’re doing, so please leave a comment below.