Working remotely makes practical sense for many of us, but with most of the country trying to limit human interaction and stop the coronavirus from spreading, it’s a necessity. Working from home does have its perks (besides saving lives) but it also has its drawback.
Suddenly, there’s no one watching what you do, you can work in your pajamas and chomp on snacks. Basically, there’s nothing stopping you from being you. Except, you have to get the job done and do most of the things you’re accustomed to doing at work.
The problem starts when you start taking things easy, and before you know it, you haven’t been your productive self. Depending on the number of days you work, there is a possibility of breaking out of your usual working patterns and start having unstructured days.
Here’s a look at how you can make the most of your day and maximize advantage from your remote working days.
Manage your time wisely
Time management is essential. Often, remote workers spend more time than they intended on unproductive, non-work activities. Or they don’t manage it well enough and end up spending more time on the computer than they intended.
Start work early. Preferably, first thing in the morning. This is when you’re most alert and efficient, so try to get a good chunk of work done. You’re likely to start feeling sluggish as the day goes by, which can prevent you from thinking straight and slow you down.
Follow the same schedule as you normally do at work. This is the easiest way to blur the difference between office and remote schedules. If it helps, dress up in your work clothes and arrive at your work desk just as if you’re going to office.
Set a schedule and keep it front-of-mind. Write your schedule down on sticky notes and put them on your desktop. Even saying it aloud can help you remember to get important tasks done.
Finish the task you’re on rather than leaving some for later. Your mind can wander, urgent work can come up, or you may simply forget that you have a job pending. Wrapping up one task after another relieves work anxiety and allows you to unwind completely after all the work is done.
Working from home allows you to multi-task, jumping from business to personal whenever it’s convenient. But, how do you get everything into your schedule without compromising on work or losing steam quickly?
Plan ahead. Assign the last 15 minutes of your day to planning the next day’s tasks. Estimate the time needed for each even though everything might not necessarily go as planned. It will help you get some perspective and avoid last minute panic.
Distinguish between urgent and important work tasks. Urgent tasks are non-negotiable, but you should also know what the next order of business is, which is possible only if you’ve prioritized in advance.
Find the order that works for you. Some people like to start with the more time-consuming/difficult work first and then the easy tasks. Others may prefer the opposite. If you’re yet to figure out which one works best for you, now is the perfect time to find out.
Keep distractions away
The temptation to check your social media feeds is particularly high when you’re working from home. A habit that can take hold quickly, defeating the purpose of having extra time at your disposal.
To limit your social time and focus on work, here are a few suggestions:
- Log out of every social media account to make it a bit harder to check your feeds.
- Consider uninstalling a few social media apps from your smartphone/tablet
- Remove social networks from your browser shortcuts. Out of sight, out of mind!
- Turn off personal email notifications and set specific times of the day to check your emails.
- Try muting a few groups on messaging apps or followers on social media.
Create a virtual water cooler
You don’t have to miss the camaraderie of office life when you’re working from home. Set aside time on your agenda every day for interactions with your co-workers via webchat, video conferencing or phone.
Make sure you’re a part of all-office/all-hands meetings. Coming together virtually preserves team spirit. If you’re a manager or team leader, it may be easier to schedule meetings at least a few times a week. If not, request to join in.
Maybe even explore the possibility of taking team members on a virtual tour of your home. This early bonding effort will grow your interactions and goodwill at work whether at office or home.
With more time on your hands, you can now try to add a little more exercise into your day-to-day. However, with social distancing and shelter-in-place restrictions, your options may be limited.
But it’s incredibly important you stay active and avoid isolating yourself. Spending several hours a day cooped up in your home can make you put on weight, and lose some of your physical and even mental alertness.
If you belong to a gym or yoga studio, they may now have online classes. Even if you don’t have a membership, there are a number of fitness companies that are either offering free online classes, free-trials or discounted prices. Finding an outlet to keep up your physical health will help your mental wellness.
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