Only a fraction of the 3.4 million Canadian employees who began working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic have returned to full-time office work. 45 percent of working Canadians would prefer to work remotely at least three days a week and more than one quarter would prefer to work flex hours. Remote work is here to stay! Working from home comes with its own set of challenges and requirements. So how can you remain productive while finding a work-life balance? What habits and routines can make working from home easy and efficient? THE Following are some tips on how to successfully work from home:
Set regular hours: Clear guidelines regarding when to work and when to stop help remote workers maintain a work-life balance. Create a written or digital daily schedule. Consider an automatic time-tracking app (Toggle, Harvest, Everhour, HourStack, RescueTime, etc.) to help you monitor whether you’re sticking to your schedule and what time of day you’re most productive. Reserve the hours of high focus for the most important tasks.
Establish a morning routine: A routine provides time to prepare for work and help you get started each day. Make a cup of coffee. Savour it. Listen to the news. Exercise. Get dressed. The act of changing clothes serves as a signal that it’s “go” time and draws the line between being at “work” and being at home.
Build a transition out of work: Set an alarm to indicate that your workday is almost over and it’s time to save documents and begin closing down. Consider reading, listening to a podcast or taking a walk to wind down before making dinner or doing chores.
Create ground rules with family/roommates: Make clear rules regarding interruptions. Divide up the domestic labour. Use sound-cancelling headphones to eliminate distractions. Let others know when you’ll be on a video or voice call. Set designated eating, hanging out and sharing times. Adjust the guidelines as needed and as you learn what works.
Schedule breaks: Establish break times and take them! An hour for lunch and two 15 minutes pauses is the usual standard. Try to make at least one of your breaks an active interlude (walk, do yoga, dance, stretch, etc.). If you’re having trouble taking the entire time, use an app (TimeOut for Mac, Smart Break for Windows) to lock yourself out of your computer for the established downtime.
Design an eating plan: Plan and prepare your meals and snacks ahead of time to ensure you actually use your meal break to eat. Try to incorporate foods that boost memory (pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, eggs) and limit foods that are bad for your brain (refined carbs, processed foods, sugary drinks).
Make social media less accessible: Remove social networks from your browser shortcuts and log out of every account. This reduces the temptation to take too many social breaks.
Practice self-care: Take care of your physical and mental well-being. Get physical activity, meditate, journal or dance. Get outside at least once per day, even if it’s only onto your apartment balcony or into your backyard.
Create an office space: Set up a workspace and stay out of this area when not working. This helps you disconnect from work fully. Your space doesn’t have to be a separate room. It may be a corner of a room that has good lighting. Place a cushion on the floor and use a coffee table for your desk. Utilize a small portable folding table. Create a standing desk at a counter. To help keep your work separate from your home life, don’t spread your materials across the house/apartment. If you don’t have a separate room, pack up and put away your work at the end of each day.
Ask for what you need: Request that your employer provide you with a monitor, keyboard, mouse, software, a supportive back cushion and perhaps a printer.
Socialize: Loneliness and isolation are common problems for remote workers. Figure out how much social interaction you need to feel connected. Talk with your coworkers through the day using calls, texts and/or facetime apps. Ask how they are adjusting. Set up a virtual lunchtime with friends or family. Have morning video calls with your team and make time for small talk. Carve out time for check-ins throughout the day.
Working from home creates a unique set of challenges. Figure out when to work, where to work and how to create boundaries between your work and personal life. Have compassion and understanding for yourself and others as you determine how to be productive. Take care of yourself and attend to your loved ones. Pay attention to your mental well-being. Have faith in your ability to adapt. Establish practices that work for you!
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