COVID-19 has ushered in an unprecedented era of remote work. Suddenly, thousands of people who had never worked from home – and had never intended to – had to figure out how to fit their office into their living rooms. Trial and error was the name of the game.
Now, however, we’ve settled into a routine. For many first-timers, that routine is far from ideal. There are so many work-from-home pitfalls, and they’re extremely easy for beginners to fall into. This unplanned switch to remote work might trick you into thinking you’re just not cut out to work from home.
Chasing Our Financial Freedom is dedicated to helping people find the work that allows them to thrive. It’s possible that, once you figure out your remote workflow, you’ll be more productive than ever. Here’s a look at some of the common remote work mistakes people make early on, and how to fix them:
Embrace New Processes
If your whole company went remote all at once (as many recently have) then you’re going to find some hiccups in your workflow. This is normal, but stressful. You have to embrace the changes and find ways to work with them, rather than against them.
For example, you or your team might not be able to perform at their best right now. It might take some time for everyone to get back to their full productivity. You can get frustrated with yourself and your team, or you can find a way to fill in the gaps, such as hiring a contract worker to pick up a few projects.
If your marketing team is stretched thin, figuring out how to keep your business on track during the pandemic, you can take blogging work off their hands by hiring freelance writers. You can easily outsource these kinds of tasks, and you’ll save yourself – and your team – from feeling majorly overstretched.
Create a Morning Routine
Your morning routine is a powerful tool and one you’ve been using for years whether you’ve realized it or not. The act of getting up, getting dressed, driving, settling in at your desk – these little habits feel second nature, but they signal to your brain that it’s time to work.
When we transition to remote work, we often forget to transition our morning routine as well. After all, you’ve lost steps in your process. You don’t have to drive anywhere, you’re not dropping anything off in the breakroom, and you might not even change out of your pajamas. You need to craft a new routine, something that will help you get into the right headspace to get down to work.
Getting dressed, eating breakfast, and getting some light exercise is a simple, effective routine for remote work. It wakes you up, energizes you, and getting out of your PJs is a subtle (but powerful) way to switch your mind into work mode. Stick with a routine for at least a few weeks to see if it’s working for you – you have to give your brain time to recognize the pattern to see if it’s effective.
Establish a Workspace
An in-person office offers another psychological tool that’s often missing from remote work – an established workspace. This is harder to achieve, but substantially more important for remote workers. If you work in the wrong part of your home, you can ruin your time on and off the clock. You need to work harder to establish work-life boundaries when it all happens in the same place.
Ideally, you should set your workspace up in a dedicated room. Decorate your office in a way that makes you feel focused and productive, and avoid including any distractions such as a television. If you don’t have a spare room, you can fit your office into an existing space. Try to find a way to tuck it away when you’re not working, though. This will help you to unwind when you’re off the clock.
Vitally, you should never set your workspace up in your bedroom if you can avoid it. If you work in your bedroom, you’ll find it much harder to focus and you’ll sabotage your sleep. Your brain will have trouble resting properly if it associates the space with work stress. Keep work out of the bedroom; you’ll thank yourself in the long run.
Counterintuitively, some remote workers find themselves too wrapped up in their work when they work from home. It’s easy to work non-stop through the day or late into the night when work is always there. This is another place where work-life balance comes into play. You have to establish a routine that gets you away from your work sometimes. Otherwise, you’re almost certain to burn out.
Set specific start and end times for your day, and don’t work outside of those times unless it’s absolutely necessary. Strive to take lunch away from your desk every day. You can also build in regular walks, stretch breaks, time to hang out with your pet – anything that gets you away from the desk periodically will help.
It’s not just a matter of avoiding burnout – these kinds of breaks make you more creative and more productive. It’s extremely hard to think of new ideas when you’re focused on the problem nonstop. Your brain needs breaks to process things, look at them from new angles, and find solutions. Build these breaks into your day, and you’ll see the difference.
Transitioning to remote work is difficult, but the best thing you can do for yourself is to establish and stick with good habits. There’s no one best workflow for everyone, so you may have to try out a few things before you find the right fit. Once you do, however, you might be amazed at just how productive you can be at home.
Written by: Chelsea Lamb has spent the last eight years honing her tech skills and is the resident tech specialist at Business Pop. Her goal is to demystify some of the technical aspects of business ownership.