Given that many people worldwide have been working online for a while due to the pandemic, those unaccustomed to the practice have learned a thing or two about it. The most common issue remote workers are facing is poor organization due to obvious reasons: when whole families are staying at home, interruptions do pose a considerable problem.
However, many people have also come to realize numerous benefits of the practice. When done the right way (or, should we say, when optimized) remote work allows for a couple of additional hours to spend on leisure activities, so let’s see how to “optimize” your remote work routine.
1. Create a Routine
We’ve heard many times that scheduling daily tasks is a good idea, but this reasoning is too generalized. Different people work best in different circumstances, so even if calculating your daily tasks is undoubtedly a good way to go about things, other aspects remain vague, at best.
For example, what office workers turned remote workers tend to overlook is that taking regular breaks is immensely important. However, for remote workers, these are not classic lunch breaks, rather breaks in between the times of their peak productivity, meaning that fixed schedules are not universal.
Freelancers, for example, often group their tasks in a way that will give them whole free days. While this may not be possible for remote workers with fixed working hours, certain readjustments are possible.
For starters, when working from home, you’ll get the initial boost: AM hours. Since you won’t have to get ready and commute to work, you’ll discover that you have at least an hour or more every morning that you aren’t accustomed to having. What you will use it for is entirely up to you. Will you sleep more, do a morning workout routine, take your time enjoying breakfast and coffee on the deck, and so on?
Secondly, since you’ll be enjoying either homemade lunches or home delivery, you can take your lunch break when you are hungry, as opposed to when the boss allows.
Everything in between is about work.
2. Prioritize Daily Tasks
This tip is not unique to remote work, but it’s unavoidable in this setting. Depending on what you do and the frequency of new tasks, you should consider creating time slots for each task, starting with the urgent ones and moving on toward those that can wait.
What’s important here is that you should be realistic. Allocate sufficient time for each task to avoid working overtime. After all, if you need an hour more for the work, there’s no point in the AM hours.
3. Things to Avoid
As it were, things to do come easier than things to avoid. Many people unaccustomed to remote work waste time on meaningless tasks, at least in the beginning. Commonly, people waste time browsing social media and obsessively checking incoming emails all day long.
That’s why we’d say it’s important to stay focused on work, enjoy regular breaks and not “slack off” in between (and especially not in the middle of performing a task).
Shortly put, some discipline is still called for, even if you’ll enjoy well-deserved freedom for once.
4. Engagement Is Key
Engagement is key for long-term success, as we all know, but it seems even more important for remote workers. Because all kinds of consultations need to be performed virtually, it is crucial that all participants are actively engaged.
Lots of things can be said about online communication. People who are unaccustomed to the practice may need some time to adjust, but eventually, they come to like it (or prefer it, in some cases). For some, the initial issue is tied to the fact that they’re not computer-savvy but, luckily, the majority of online communication tools are user-friendly (one of the more important lessons from the pandemic).
Back to engagement, it stretches way beyond online meetings. It’s a strategy aimed at boosting your productivity and your satisfaction. It’s actually great to give it some thought now that you’re working remotely because you will be more relaxed at home than at a noisy office (well, most people are).
5. Time Management
Now, we come to one of the crucial skills — time management. While the skill is necessary for every employee, for remote workers it can make a difference between nailing your tasks and breaking down.
Because of the abovementioned distractions (and a couple of others, besides), new remote workers often stay working through the day because they demonstrate poor management skills (and poor discipline, in some cases).
We’d argue that these are two sides of the same coin. While the concept of home sweet home meets work may sound like a vacation for some, people accustomed to remote work know all too well that’s hardly the case. No matter how much time you waste, your tasks will still be waiting to be addressed.
In that sense, make sure to plan your schedule well. Allocate a couple of breaks to unwind and you can choose to do whatever you like then – even check your social media profiles. As long as you limit your breaks, everything should be fine. But the limits seem blurry when no one is watching, so be very, very careful and discipline yourself.
6. Take Your Time Familiarizing Yourself With Online Tools and Apps You’ll Be Using Every Day
Many people think they’ll learn everything they don’t know on-the-go. While this is true, it is also true that going with the flow will take you more time to do something properly because you’ll need more time to adjust and learn the ropes.
It is a better idea to allocate some time to familiarize yourself with the tools you’ll be using regularly so that you won’t have to test the possibilities every day, potentially slowing down your work. By extension, many of the tools you’ll need are standard, and you can benefit from them greatly — even in the future and even when working from the office. The calculation seems well-justified.
Remote work is loads of fun, but it also holds true that there’s a difference between freedom and slacking off. It is only natural to allow some time to adjust, but make sure you use it to come up with some of the most important practices that suit you best.
And yes, if you’re among those sharing a home with others, allocate a dedicated working space that will be off-limits. In this way, you’ll avoid the trap many remote workers face in the beginning — turning your entire living space into your office. Discipline is the key.