This post was most recently updated on September 12th, 2022
[A collaboration post – all thoughts are my own.]
How do you make the best of remote work?
Consider yourself fortunate to be able to work from home. In contrast to those who work in front-line positions for health and safety, you have the luxury of choosing what to wear, sleeping later than commuters, saving money on transportation, and being lucky enough to be safe and comfortable at home.
Just because you have the ability to work flexible hours doesn’t mean you should sleep in. As more people choose to work remotely, more of us are figuring out how to take advantage of flexibility while preserving healthy boundaries between work and other aspects of life. The following tactics have helped me remain productive during my two years of working from home while also maximizing my flexibility.
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Create a designated workspace
When you are working next to all your pending household chores, it is easy to become sidetracked. Your work environment could be anything from a home office to a coffee shop. I live with my mom and three dogs in a small apartment, but I keep my work materials in a box. I have my workspace inside my bedroom.
The goal is to establish a location that is connected to your job and from which you can exit when it’s time to change the subject. If you are easily distracted, you should take it seriously enough to provide sufficient lighting, organization, and seclusion while still being at ease. Decorate your desk area with random trinkets or photos, or even a unique lamp to make lighting a bit more fun. Make your workspace work for you, not the other way around.
Make sure everything you need is within arm’s reach
It’s simple to become sidetracked by dogs, neighbor noises, or other duties once you get up to get something. Before you begin your day’s job, make sure you have everything you need within arm’s reach. Make sure you enjoy being there while you’re spending hours at a time sitting in one place.
Create a schedule that works for you
If you have flexible remote work, figure out the times of day that you’re most productive. A 2019 study by Accountemps found that 44% of Americans are at their peak productivity in the early morning, while just 2% said their best work comes in the middle of the night.
Consider when and how long you work best as the first stage in constructing your routine. Early in the morning, when I’m most focused, I set aside three hours for deep work. If you naturally work best between 10:00 pm and midnight, schedule a work period during that time. I also schedule breaks to do household chores. This helps with the urge to procrastinate on work by taking care of personal to-dos because I know when everything is getting done.
As a freelance translator, following up with clients and finding a new translation project happen during regular work hours, but getting personal work done at the time of day I work best can boost my performance while giving me more flexibility. I try to finish my work before 3 p.m. because I need to set aside time to walk my dogs, clean up the house, and do other to-do items that I can cross off my list between work tasks.
Walking the dog, washing the dishes, and cleaning the house are examples of things you should still schedule. When thinking about time management for your day and week, don’t forget about your pets and housework. Think of this as clarifying your work-life balance.
Give yourself breaks
When our surroundings are boring, we all need to unwind and separate work from pleasure. Walk away from your computer to help unwind; do not stay “attached” to your screen all day even when you are free. A productive method to break up your workday and temporarily stimulate your mind and body is to spend five to ten minutes reading breaking news or general interest journalism.
Schedule flexibility is one advantage of remote work, but it can only be achieved if you are readily accessible. Send a message, mark the date on your calendar, or let your coworkers, family, or friends know when you’re done for the day or unavailable.
Tell your loved ones how much time you will have to text or phone them throughout the day. Tell them that just when you work from home, you might not always be able to reply quickly or speak for long periods of time.
Have a discussion with your family about boundaries and how you may coexist while maintaining a professional working life in the same location where they may just be living. To prevent future conflict and dissatisfaction, it’s critical to build trust and respect upfront.
Working from home offers a unique opportunity for flexibility and work-life balance. I’ve been utilizing these strategies to stay focused and create boundaries, and I think they can help you successfully navigate the challenges of remote work while reaping its benefits.