Working remotely sounds like a dream come true: no commute and work from the couch. You don’t even have to wear pants!
However, if you’re not careful, being a remote worker can quickly lead to lounging and watching Netflix instead of doing great work.
Working remotely is increasingly common across all industries. According to the New York Times, 43 percent of survey respondents said they worked remotely at least some of the time, so it’s likely you’ll have to work from home in the future, too.
Whether you’re starting a new remote job or just need to boost your productivity in your current role, here are five tips to supercharge your routine.
1. Figure out your prime working hours (and stick to them)
One of the perks of working remotely is having more control over your schedule. But that means you might have to adjust your expectations for your routine.
You might find that you do your best intensive work early in the morning or late at night, and that afternoons you tend to feel a bit groggy. By adjusting your core hours to fit when you’re most alert, you can improve your productivity.
Once you find a schedule that works for you, stick to that routine. According to Chelsea Krause, an accounting and invoicing writer for Merchant Maverick, structure is important.
“Setting consistent work hours can help you stay focused, eliminate distractions, and get all of your hours in without scrambling to make up time at the end of the week,” said Krause.”Also, be sure to let your friends and family know the hours you work. It’s easy for others to assume that because you work from home, you are always free during the day. This isn't true. By setting consistent hours, it’s easier to create a healthy work-life balance.
2. Set boundaries
When your workspace is just a few feet away, it’s easy for work to bleed into your personal life. But allowing work to consume your day can lead to burnout.
Jenny Dempsey, a social media and customer experience manager for NumberBarn, advocates setting boundaries for yourself to maintain a positive work/life balance.
“Working from home can feel like work never ends,” she said. “It’s so easy to say you’re going to log on for 5 minutes to check an email. An hour later, you’re neck deep in a customer situation and there’s no way out. Instead, stick to a schedule that you have created. Take your lunch break and eat away from your desk, without any devices. Focus on your food. You want to create a separation between work and meal times without your phone alerting you to emails arriving in your inbox.”
3. Invest in the right setup
A lot of new remote workers try to make do by using what they already have for a workspace. But hunching over the kitchen table can be uncomfortable, and if you have a busy family, shared spaces are likely filled with distractions.
If at all possible, designate a separate space to be your home office. Then, invest in the right equipment. A good ergonomic chair, a standing desk, and a second monitor are all useful tools to help improve your productivity.
If you’re short on cash, it might be worth taking out a small personal loan so you can set up a functional and comfortable space. Good quality office equipment is well worth the cost in what it can do for your work output and quality of life. And with lenders like Even, you could qualify for a loan with a rate as low as 4.99%.
4. Get outside
According to Jamie Young, an editor with Student Loan Hero, working remotely requires some adjustments.
“If you're not used to remote work, it can be especially hard to get in the swing of things and stay productive,” she said. “The biggest thing I remind myself to do? Know when to turn work off. Take breaks when you feel you're hitting a wall.”
Use those breaks to get outside or visit someplace new. Working from home can be a lonely experience, so it’s a good idea to go to places full of people.
“It's amazing what a short walk in the middle of the day can do for your productivity,” Young said. “Go work from a coffee shop or restaurant once in a while, too; don't make yourself feel stuck at home every day. A change of scenery can do wonders for creativity.”
5. Make use of productivity tools
Without in-person managers or coworkers to keep you on track, you might need some extra help staying on task and meeting deadlines. That’s where productivity tools can be a gamechanger. Project management tools like Asana allow you to create detailed to-do lists, noting who is responsible for every stage of a project and the exact timeline.
Wunderlist is a great tool for those who like single to-do lists, rather than separating work and personal ones. You can list everything you need to do, assign due dates, and track your progress.
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