According to an article published on Stanford News, the ‘work-from-home economy’ is likely to continue long after the COVID-19 pandemic dies down. 42% of the US labor force is now remotely working full time.
Maybe a global pandemic is all we needed to finally adapt to the idea of working from the comfort of your home.
However, despite the benefits of this setup, it is still not without problems. Business Insider interviewed several remote workers who shared the most challenging aspects of their new job setup.
One of the issues they highlighted is that compared to working in the office, they are now more easily distracted. Distractions, they added, get even worse without a strict work-from-home schedule.
Now, if you plan on keeping this setup long after social distancing rules have eased, then you must ask yourself, “How do I create a work routine?” Well, in this post, we’ll show you just how you can do that. We’ll give you tips on how to create a work-at-home schedule that you can follow with ease.
1. Create a Schedule That Will Work for You
People react to schedules differently. While some may see a routine as a helpful guide in making their tasks easier to complete, others find schedules oppressive and rigid.
In general, working in an office space helps us focus. It is true that there are distractions in the office, but you usually find a good stretch of time wherein you get a big percentage of your work done. However, even in an office, every person sticks to their schedule.
You might notice a co-worker arriving early, powering through their to-do list in the morning, and then spending the afternoon socializing or performing menial tasks.
Other employees may spend a shorter amount of time in the office yet still deliver their work on time. Whatever the case may be, people tend to follow a steady pace when working.
And, well, there are others who try to do everything in their power to pass the time, and milk the clock. Whether it is going out for a cigarette, making a coffee, or chatting with co-workers. But, we’re not talking about them in this article.
When creating a routine for yourself, you need to take a mental or physical note of what’s working for you. If you prefer order, then try building a schedule around what you naturally do within the day. Have a workable routine for a week or two and find out if anything is not contributing to the overall structure of your schedule.
Develop a good work rhythm and manage your day by using a to-do list. If you want to have an easier way to organize your tasks, use a Kanban platform like Trello.
2. Be Easy on Yourself
As you’re easing into the remote work setup, it will be best if you treat yourself as if you’re a new hire. You shouldn’t force your regular office routine into your new environment. It’s important that you take the time to monitor your activities.
In this case, using a time tracker like Traqq will be helpful for you. Whether you’re online or offline, you can use this tool to track your activities, the websites you visit, and the applications you use. This way, you can identify productivity leaks and create a routine around efficient habits that are easier to follow.
Observe yourself through Traqq and find out the best stretches of time wherein you are most productive. If it seems that you are most efficient after eating your breakfast, then use the early morning to perform menial tasks like reviewing your to-do list or responding to emails.
After breakfast, you can take on bigger tasks. Now, if you are having a difficult time keeping your focus, take a couple of minutes to relax, evaluate your workload, and plan your next step. Learn to forgive yourself for your shortcomings and try being easy on yourself.
3. Begin the Day Right
The perfect work schedule involves a solid morning routine. Morning habits are supposed to condition your brain to think that it’s work time and not lounging time. A routine will help you collect and organize your thoughts before you begin your day’s tasks. Here are some tips for developing the perfect day schedule:
- Get out of your sleepwear and wear something semi-casual. You don’t have to do this, but it’s an option you can take if you want to condition yourself to work efficiently.
- Set aside some time for meditation or quiet time. Before you begin your day and get to work, take some time to reflect on the things you’re grateful for. Doing so will give you an extra boost of energy. Of course, don’t forget to eat healthy food that will improve your focus.
- Have a pseudo-commute. This may seem ridiculous, but walking around the block and back to your house will help you develop a morning routine. It’s not a healthy practice to get out of bed and go directly to your desk. By taking a walk before beginning your day, you can create a line between your personal life and work.
- Do some chores or run an errand. Take your children to daycare, do some yard work, or go grocery shopping. Doing this routine in the morning will help you clear your head and come up with ideas for the day.
4. Change Your Work Scenery
It can get dull and monotonous if you look at the same wall all day. If you’re finding it challenging to maintain your focus, try a different scenery. The beauty of working remotely is you can bring your job anywhere.
If there are open coffee shops in the area, try working there for half of the day. Personally, I find sitting in coffee shops very productive, as I tend to waste way less time and focus on the work. When working from home, however, I may easily get distracted by Youtube, Netflix, or just playing games…
So, if you’re facing a creativity block, take a monitored break and try a change of scenery. Here are some things you can do:
- Go for a run. If you didn’t do this early in the morning, you can still take a few minutes in the afternoon to go jogging. If it’s raining outside, then do some yoga or stretching exercises in the living room.
- Check your mailbox. Isn’t it thrilling to find out what’s in the mail? With the repetitive tasks we do at home, something as trivial as checking the mail can be exciting. It will get you out of the house—or at least out of your room.
- Take an actual lunch break. Do not eat microwaved food at your work desk no matter how convenient it may be. If driving to a restaurant is too much of a hassle, try cooking a hearty meal and eat it in your kitchen or dining room.
- If you haven’t already, change into your semi-casual wear. Even if it is midday, take a relaxing bath in the tub. This way, taking a bath will feel more like a break than a chore. However, try not to slip in a bath or shower, and invest in some proper handles for the shower. Also, it will force you to get out of your jammies.
5. Set Your Boundaries
One of the downsides of working from home is that the end of the workday easily creeps into your personal time and sleeping time. You may even end up working overtime unintentionally. Now, if you are more productive in the evenings, there is nothing wrong with structuring your schedule around the wee hours of the night.
However, you have to do it intentionally—not because you forgot to set boundaries between your work and personal life. Part of learning how to set a schedule is knowing when to stop working too. Here are some tips that will help you set your boundaries:
- Have a pseudo-commute. If you ‘walked’ to work this morning, you should also ‘walk’ back home.
- Check in with your partner, kids, or friends. Your family is waiting for you. So, make sure you set aside time after work for bonding with them.
- Schedule an after-work activity that will force you to get away from your desk. For instance, set up a dinner date or go to evening classes for a hobby you’ve always wanted to take on.
Once the working day has ended, wrap things up. Go offline and put away the tools you use for your work. Just because you do your job in the same place where you live, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your work and personal life should blend in an unhealthy way.
As always, the best way to schedule your day at work is by clearly defining when it starts and ends. Remote employees discipline themselves to ‘switch off’ and set personal limits.