Figuring out your work-from-home routine can feel like a part-time job itself. There are distractions — from frequent trips to the kitchen to kids bouncing around — and with no physical space to enter or leave, the lines between work and life begin to blend together, making it tempting to keep working long after the day should be over.
Regaining focus and productivity is mostly a matter of setting boundaries, but it also means minimizing stress as you adapt to a new work environment. Here are 10 tips to help.
1. Set a schedule — but allow for some flexibility
Creating a schedule of what your ideal day looks like should be the first step when working from home. But don’t feel that you have to stick to the regular 9-to-5 routine — spend a few days noticing when you’re most productive, and when you’re most likely to lag, and take that into consideration.
2. Dedicate a workspace
It doesn’t have to be fancy, but your home workspace should put you in the zone to focus without too many distractions. And at the end of every day, doing a quick declutter will put you in a better headspace for the next morning.
3. Take a real lunch break
For a daily recharge, step away from the computer and into the kitchen. Cooking something quick and easy can help to relieve any morning stress and reboot for the afternoon. You can also catch up on a podcast or take a brisk walk.
4. Build in kids’ time
If your kids are older, set a specific time so they know when you’ll be available to hang out with them — it could be a break for a game of badminton or an afternoon snack. If you and your spouse or partner both work from home, you can also split the day into shifts.
5. Make use of would-be commuting hours
Spend the time you would normally be stuck in traffic or waiting for the train doing something nice for yourself, like reading a book or just sitting on the balcony with a cup of coffee.
6. Don’t be afraid to turn off chat notifications
When working remotely, it’s natural to want to stay in touch, but it can mean a barrage of distracting Slack messages or Google Hangouts pings. You can always turn them off and catch up later.
7. But do factor in socialization
Being out of the office means you can’t catch up in the kitchen or after work for beers. Having a dedicated non-work call or chat channel can help facilitate that socialization, and create a stronger bond with your team.
8. Plan ahead for video meetings
Give yourself at least 10 minutes before a video meeting to make sure you know how to access the link and to test your camera and microphone, so you’re not scrambling at the last minute.
9. Honor thy weekend
A couple days off can mean a world of difference for your productivity come Monday. Unless you absolutely have to, avoid doing any extra work on weekends, and resist the temptation to frequently check your email.
10. Know when to log off
Create an end-of-day ritual after you sign off, like a meditation, a cup of tea, or a short yoga session. It helps to signal that your work day is through, so you can start to mentally unwind and enjoy the rest of your night.