You may experience a few temptations when working remotely. For many of us, it becomes too easy to work extended hours. Others lose all motivation to change from their PJs or reach for snacks constantly. Whatever your weakness, we all have them. Luckily, experience lends us some tried-and-true best practices for working from home.
1. Keep a regular routine.
Identify the hours when you are most productive, and structure your workday around them.
Note: your peak productivity time is best spent on those items that fall within your important but not urgent category. Save email for another time in the day.
Maintain your pre-work routine. For many of us, that involves breakfast, catching up on the news, and a shower. When you keep this routine, you signal to your brain when it’s time to relax and when it’s time to focus on work.
2. Make yourself look presentable.
Many meetings these days involve video conferencing, and you never know when a client or coworker will ask for a last-minute call. You’ll feel more confident being prepared and looking your best.
3. Organize your workspace.
Choose a location in your home, whether a home office or kitchen table, where you can open your laptop and get to work each day. Don’t shy away from making it a pleasant environment by adding pictures, plants, and music.
As comfy as it sounds, avoid working from your bed. Your couch, depending on how much it makes you want to lie down and nap, might not be a great location either. Most of your home, especially where you sleep, should be kept as rest-and-relax space.
Do not take video calls with a bright window behind you, unless you’re going for the witness-protection-program look. Set yourself up with cheerful lighting that allows meeting participants to see your face.
Finally, you’ll need reliable internet connection wherever you work, although you can always fall back on your phone’s hotspot when experiencing WiFi issues.
4. Amp up your virtual communication.
Slack is effective for quick conversations, check-in’s, and file sharing. Sending your teammates a Slack or email when you’re stepping out for a break puts them at ease if they can’t reach you.
Zoom is one of the most popular and developed tools for businesses that need on-demand or scheduled video calls. Zoom has the benefit of encrypting all meetings while Google Hangouts and Messenger do not (yet).
Quick tip: download our Zoom etiquette guidelines by clicking here.
Leverage the sharing function of whatever calendar tool you use — whether Google or Outlook — to keep your team abreast on what you’re working on.
Use Loom for training and instructional videos. Loom allows you to record your screen and voice and then easily share your recording through a Loom link.
5. Set boundaries and limit distractions.
Once you’ve decided your working hours, communicate those hours with your team, family, and friends.
If you have one, close your office door when needed, and turn off the TV, even if it’s just news. It will inevitably grab your attention.
Without an office environment to keep you in the zone, find time and task management tactics that work for you. For instance, set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Based) goals, and consider Francesco Cirillo’s Pomodoro productivity technique wherein you spend 25 minutes on a task with a 5 minute break immediately after.
Consider tools like StayFocused to limit the amount of time your browser allows you to spend on social media or news sites.
Take breaks when you need them. Go on walks, call a friend, or practice some living room yoga.
For your lunch break, close your laptop and leave your phone in your workspace. Give yourself permission to fully detach from media and electronics.
7. Take care of yourself.
Although working extra long hours may be a temptation, practice healthy behaviors that keep you happy such as exercise, connecting with people outside of work, and relaxation techniques.
Whether you’re working on the living room carpet or the dining room table, certain habits will allow you to remain productive despite these unusual circumstances. Stick to a regular routine, put effort into your appearance, and make your workspace your own. Also, embrace virtual communication, set limits for yourself, and try various productivity techniques. Most importantly, take good care of you.
We’re in different and downright difficult times, but now is the time to adapt. Follow best practices when working from home, and thrive!