Be honest, when the social distancing requirements were announced did you get excited for the chance to work from home? Most people perceive remote work through rose-tinted glasses as an oasis for flexibility, free time and autonomy. Unfortunately, the reality may be quite different, and it doesn’t come without challenges, especially during a public health emergency. It’s far too easy to find yourself in loungewear all day, working in front of the TV and stress eating peanut butter from a spoon. So much for living the dream, right? This guide is designed to help you harness your productivity with tips on establishing a realistic and effective work-from-home routine, so your time working remotely is a blessing rather than a curse.
Many of us are working from home without a lot of notice. You may not have a designated home office or even a spare room to convert. However, preparing your space is well worth the time as it can boost positive energy and, in turn, the motivation to work.
First, analyze your workspace options:
One benefit of working from home is that your ‘office space’ can reflect your own tastes and preferences. Place personal objects or plants within your eye line to create a sense of Zen. Play with different configurations until you find the one that feels right.
One of the downfalls of working for home can be the lack of professional office furniture. At your physical office, you may have an ergonomic chair with precision back support and a keyboard tray installed at just the right height. At home, you may not have the ideal set-up. If you don’t already have proper office furniture, look around your home to find furniture that could work for you. A dining room table is an obvious choice, but a comfortable lounge chair, a lap desk and ottoman situated near a sunny window in a quiet bedroom might be a better choice for you.
When your house is your workplace, a normal morning routine can easily become too fluid or even non-existent.
With a typical 9-5 job you get up, get ready and leave the house to go to work. When your house is your workplace, a normal morning routine can easily become too fluid or even non-existent. Establishing a morning routine similar to the one you had when working away from home is an important factor in your productivity.. It also helps to set the boundary between personal and professional time.
Discipline is key to a successful remote work routine and scheduling the small parts of the day can help to give it structure. Aim to wake up at the same time each day, shower and get dressed as you would when leaving the house. This is a valuable gesture of self-respect, no matter how cozy your pajamas might feel.
Establishing a ritual at the end of your work day is just as important as a before work routine. Sometimes it is hard to separate yourself from your work after you “clock out” for the day. Especially if your smart phone chimes every time you receive a work-related message or email.
Mentally (and physically) closing the door on work time allows you to enjoy your free time without interruptions. A great tip is to turn on do-not-disturb mode on your phone or work apps.
Jacob Whitish, Director of Sales and Marketing at Clarity PR, concurs. “At the end of the day I physically put away my work computer and turn off email/slack on my phone,” he said. “This ensures that I have a careful separation between my work and home life.”
An after-work routine may involve changing into your lounge-about clothes, preparing dinner, helping your kids with their homework or taking a walk. The bottom line is to purposefully dedicate time and space to mentally exit your work zone. Whatever activities you choose, ensure the habit is established early on in your remote work routine.
Now you have a pre- and post-work routine sorted, it’s time to focus on your actual work schedule. The duality of convenience and distraction comes into play for remote workers, especially during quarantine when your partner and children are also home with you. It’s tempting to sleep for an extra hour, give your pet some well-deserved attention, help your kids with their school work, or periodically check the content of the refrigerator. Creative ways of procrastinating creep in and before you know it, it’s 4 PM and you’ve only achieved half of your tasks for the day.
Luckily there are a few simple fixes:
Ultimately, distractions eat into your free time and leave you feeling stressed out and frustrated. Sticking to a work schedule cultivates a sense of achievement, a better relationship with your work team and the freedom to enjoy leisure time.
Once into your work schedule, the goal is to avoid personal distractions and engage in periods of focused and productive work. In a world of technology, checking our phones for new notifications and scrolling social media has become the norm. By allowing yourself to be distracted, you lose time and productivity, and interrupt your creative flow, thus making it harder to return to the task at hand. There are useful apps to defend against online distractions, like RescueTime and FocusBooster. But the truth be told, even with these apps, physical distractions will always exist. It’s best to learn how to manage them and increase your will power to stay focused.
Once you recognize the start of a distraction, why not instead take 5 minutes to meditate, stretch or write down persistent non-work related thoughts? You can then return to work with a clear head and renewed focus.
Regardless of where you work and what you wear, you still need to protect your clothes from sweat and body odor.
Finding a balance between personal distractions and a daily influx of work-related tasks can feel overwhelming. It’s not unusual to prioritize new tasks over your own to-do list. This can mean only getting to your own pending items by the afternoon and then working overtime to complete them or inevitably passing them on to the ever-growing list for tomorrow.
Instead, allow a small window in your work-from-home routine to review your list each morning. Determine what is urgent and what can wait. Cross off any non-essential items and, if possible, start with the most difficult task first. It’s totally acceptable to let your team or clients know you’re working on a deadline and that you will get back to them later.
Don’t forget to include daily exercise and stretching in your remote work routine. Physical activity boosts endorphins, improves self-image and increases energy levels in general. Some people like to start their day with a rigorous exercise routine to wake up. Others prefer to engage in physical activity following work. Either way, it helps keep productivity in check.
Even if you don’t have equipment at home, there are countless online resources for free or low-cost workouts featuring activities like such as Zumba, yoga or aerobics. Once the social distancing mandates are lifted, consider increasing your heart rate at a gym, fitness class or swimming pool. This is particularly important if you need to disconnect from work, get out of the house and enjoy social interaction.
Some experts and long-time freelancers claim you can mentally prepare yourself for work simply by dressing the part. "I think being dressed up helps you focus on business,” said Mark Bacon, author. Dressing in business attire when working from home helps to project professionalism in every interaction you have – whether it’s a videoconference, phone call or well-crafted email. Throw on a suit jacket like it’s your Superman cape… and tackle your work like a true hero.
Regardless of where you work and what you wear, you still need to protect your clothes from sweat and body odor. Luckily Ejis sweat proof undershirts and sweat proof boxer briefs (buy in our shop or on Amazon) are designed to be super comfortable and highly effective at stopping sweat stains and body odor from reaching your clothes.
Establishing an inspiring workspace, developing routines and boundaries, maintaining physical activity and dressing like a boss all help to create an effective work-from-home routine. Wearing Ejis sweat proof basics keeps you focused on the important work at hand, instead of pesky sweat marks.