Three Steps to Better Remote Work
Working remotely can be amazing. But it also comes with a unique set of challenges. If you’re at home, work is suddenly competing against everything else for your attention. Any previous social pressure to stay focused is now gone. Plus, the office usually provides a clean psychological separation of work life and home life. So, how do you get yourself to turn off and stop working when your home is your office? Based on several years’ experience working remotely, here are my top tips for staying productive (and happy) when you’re working at home.
Set a timer.
Using a tomato timer might feel childish, but it’s too important to skip.
The basic idea is to work in sprints of “deep work” instead of mildly working all day. You set a timer, and you don’t switch tasks until the bell rings. (The timer I use every day is Be Focused Pro).
Research suggests that in segments is wildly more effective than shallow-working all day.
It’s also shown to be less mentally-exhausting than frequent task-switching.
Depending on your job, you may need someone’s sign-off to be off the grid (read: off Slack) for extended periods of time. But if you do have to make the case to someone, remember that you have science on your side.
As a resource for talking to your boss (or understanding the research behind the concept), I’d highly recommend Cal Newport’s Deep Work.
Set a hard cut-off time for work.
When you don’t have physical space from your office, you have to intentionally create psychological space from it. The best way that I’ve found to do to set a daily deadline when you have stop working. Set it in the morning, and write it down so that you’re not tempted to nudge it around when the time gets closer.
Then, when the deadlines hits, close all your windows, and mute work-related notifications. This is crucial because if you don’t, you will almost undoubtedly get sucked back into working.
Setting a time to stop working isn’t just good for your happiness. Taking breaks allow you to recharge and be more effective the next day, so you’ll actually end up accomplishing more and feeling better.
Give yourself a break.
There are going to be slip-ups whenever you adjust to big lifestyle changes. To prepare, I’d highly suggest getting serious about taking up a mindfulness practice. Not only will it help you with self-compassion, but also it will help you learn to focus better for longer intervals. And if you’re still searching for a good meditation app, my favorite is Waking Up With Sam Harris. If you’re interested in trying it out, here’s a link to a free month.
Are you new to working from home? What challenges have you experienced with remote work? Let me know on Instagram @jennathriller.