Are you someone who works from home? If so, do you find it challenging to stay focused on your most important tasks? Remote work has many benefits, but there are downsides if you’re not spending your time wisely. The idea of working from home sounds great. You don’t have to commute or sit in a cubicle most of the day. However, there are other things to consider when working remotely best practices.
Working remotely best practices
In this post, I will go over a couple of methods I learned when trying it out for a week. Also, I will share tips from a good friend of mine works from home full-time. I recently spoke to her, and she was happy to give some of her best advice. This article will help those who are struggling with remote work. The following practices include:
1.) Don’t start work after waking up
2.) Using background noise
3.) Setting up your best physical work space
4.) Reminding yourself to take breaks
5.) Dressing up like you’re at the office
Working remotely best practices: Don’t start work after waking up
In previous years, one thing I used to do would be checking email after waking up. It gave me something to do in my first waking hour or so, but I didn’t get any real work done. For those working from home, starting a job right away is something they often do. One reason could be needing to fill in time in place of commuting. Although it can be an advantage, there are other things you can do in your first waking minutes or hours.
I spent my first two waking hours doing non-related work activities. After getting dressed and making the bed, I practiced meditation for about 15 minutes each morning. Meditating is so beneficial that it helps me relax and clears my mind before I continue on my day. After that, I’ll write down three priorities that I need to get done that day. Sometimes, doing these initial activities before working can help set your day up for success.
Now your activities don’t have to be like mine. For some people, going to the gym first thing is the best way to kick off their day. You might want to read a book after waking up or take your dog for a walk. Anything other than work (i.e., checking email) will benefit the start of your day after waking up.
Listen to background noise
This practice may vary for some people, but it can help to remain focused. Unlike at a typical office, the noise level can be low-moderate (i.e., people talking, music playing). But if you don’t work well in dead silence, you’ll want to have some noise. When working at home, it can be tranquil. Or you take advantage of playing music or listening to a podcast. As long as it’s not distracting, it can help if listening to music is your thing.
What I use for background noise
For me, I’m someone who can easily get distracted. Whether it’s people moving around or loud music playing, it doesn’t help me one way or the other. What I did was listen to music that helped me stay focused. I used a music app, such as brain.fm. It’s a music app designed for your needs and help improve your concentration. Brain.fm uses science and research to learn how music helps improve mood and productivity levels. From what I’ve tried out, brain.fm has helped me stay focused on getting things done around the house. (at the moment, I’m listening to brain.fm as I write out this post!).
Setting up your best physical workspace
When working from home, you want to find the best spot to work. Some people may think, “It doesn’t matter where I want to work around the house. I’ll work on my bed!” But if you’re like me, you can’t work in a spot that’s too comfortable. So if you have a home office that includes a big desk, use that as your primary workspace. Or if the dining room table works better for you, take advantage of that.
Where I work at in my apartment
So I have two areas I utilize for work. The first one is an ergonomic standing desk where I keep myself active. The second one is a shorter desk around the corner. This desk gives me more room to spread out any notes I have. I go back and forth between the two, and both of them work well. It’s nice that I get to rotate between sitting at my desk or standing if I don’t want to sit.
Remember to take breaks
It may sound easy to take breaks working at home. But you could end up working for 3-5 hours straight without leaving your desk. If you’re working at the office, breaks become common if distractions surround you. Whether that’s chatting with a co-worker or going to the break/lounge area, there are plenty of moments where you can take a brief break. While working at home with no distractions, there are times where you forget to take breaks when needed.
How I schedule my breaks
When I worked at home last week, I set reminders to take breaks when needed. I have a little timer app installed on my laptop. When I set the timer, I’m aware of taking a break within an hour after work. Some days, I tried the Pomodoro technique, where I worked in 25-minute time blocks, followed by 5-minute breaks. It was a struggle the first time around, but I found myself getting more done than usual. As long as I schedule my break periods, I knew I would keep myself productive at home.
Dress for success at home
Knowing what you wear at home can make a difference. It may sound odd, but dressing up at home as you would in the office has some benefits. Yes, it’s tempting to want to work in your pajamas. But the goal is not to be super comfortable while working. Sure, you want to relax and have a little comfort, but being uncomfortable at work (i.e., being in a chilly work environment) can make you more productive sometimes. There’s a common saying that if you work from home, dress as you would going into the office.
I have to say I was relieved but struggled with the idea of dressing up. I’m glad I didn’t have to wear a business casual outfit (or wearing a suit at home). But last week I deviated from that tip. I felt less productive in some way. So even though I was not under obligation to dress appropriately at home, it has its upsides and downsides. Though it’s a good lesson learned! If I work from home down the road, I’ll make my best effort to dress as I would at the office.
Overall, my little self-experiment working at home was beneficial. I figured with being off work the past week. I use my time to understand what it would be like to work remotely. I learned a lot and not as easy as I thought it would be. But with the tips I discovered myself, and from my friend, I have a better idea about what I’ll do the next time around. As remote work continues to grow, it’ll be crucial for workers to develop good habits and self-discipline working from home. Hopefully, these practices can help make working from home more accessible.
Which of the practices would you consider trying? Are there any tips you use if you work from home?
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Eric is a time management consultant and owner of the blog, quitkillingtime.com. He takes great pride in helping people manage their time, personally and professionally. Eric is a firm believer in time freedom, as he believes in taking ownership of time. “Time is your most important asset. It can be your best friend or worst enemy. How you use your time can shape the future you desire to have.” In his leisure time, Eric loves to write and read whenever possible. He likes to go for long walks out in nature and been taking Zumba classes every week at his local gym. You can follow Eric via Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.