By Kerstin Woods
To everyone who is working remotely for the first time:
I know the challenges you are facing.
For more than a decade I’ve been a remote worker – from home, from airplanes, from hotel rooms all over the globe, encountering my share of missteps along the way.
Thankfully, with some of the recommendations below – I’ve learned to be productive no matter the location, time zone, team structure, or company. While it’s a personal experience to find out what works best individually, here a few of my own lessons in the hopes it helps with your transition.
#1. Keep a morning routine
This sets the tone for your day. My ideal morning is an alarm, a short workout (Amazon Prime membership includes free workout classes I can do anywhere), a strong cup of coffee, a hot shower and breakfast with my kids.
Set your routine and stick to it, just like you would on a normal workday. Write it down, post it somewhere and snap back the next day if you deviate.
#2. Get ready for work
This varies person to person. Some love saying no to makeup and yes yoga pants. That alone might save up to an hour of your day. But…getting “ready” for work is a mental thing, more than a physical one.
You don’t need a suit and makeup every day, but you do need to get mentally ready to transition between home and work life. For me, that means showering and changing. No all-day-pajama days. They sound fun and easy – but really, they make me feel lazy and un-productive. Do it for your mind, not your appearance.
#3. Transition officially in and out of work
You may now be able to roll out of bed onto your desk, which makes the physical lines separating work and home a bit blurred.
But, that doesn’t mean you should blur the lines between home time and work time.
Make it clear when you are going into your desk area for work versus not. I made a sign to put on my office door so my family knew when I was at work versus just in my home office doing chores.
Putting that sign up when I started my workday helped me feel like I was going to work, instead of just going to another room in my house. That sign also signaled “open my door to scream and tattle on your brother while I’m on a conference call and everyone will be grounded for eternity”!
Needless to say, when the sign was up, the boundaries for everyone were clearer and we all were better for it. This will be especially important for those with kids and family home during the day now too. If you don’t make it clear to them somehow, it’s not their fault when they barge in and disrupt you – clear work boundaries help us all.
#4. Stay in work mode during work hours
As tempting as it is – don’t let your home chores bleed into your workday. Because ultimately, both activities lose. You end up accomplishing less of everything. And, it just adds to the confusion and frustration of your family members if they are not sure which “mode” you are in at any given moment.
Do your chores when you would normally do them – before/after work, lunch hour, etc. Heck, you just gained back all that commute time, that’s your bonus chore time, don’t encroach on your work time.
Hope this gives you a few small ways to excel in your work from home environment. We’re in this together as a nation to help our communities be safe, let’s make the most of the opportunities we are given to ensure safety and success for ourselves and those around us.
Be thoughtful about your routine, be safe, and let’s make the hours count.