BY TIFFANY JOHNSON
So, you get to work from home? The thought of working from home is different for everyone. Some employees are ready to jump up and down with glee knowing they’re provided additional flexibility, and will be able to get their work done with less office distractions. Well, given that you don’t have a full house of children, pets, or a spouse. Other employees aren’t as pleased knowing that they will now have to work solely from a laptop or tablet with a keyboard, and are separated from their fancy computer with dual screens. Some managers are on edge, especially those who typically micromanage, knowing that they now are not able to constantly watch over their employees. In my head, I picture a plethora of managers doubtful that their employees are truly working, and assume they’re taking personal vacation days, solely because they aren’t in the office. Therefore, they’re overcompensating through countless emails and phone calls and tirelessly awaiting a response from their employees in moments, simply as a test.
First things first, companies and managers alike, should trust their employees to complete their job. Usually, in an office setting, managers aren’t over their employees shoulders every second during working hours, and it’s the same when working remotely. When at the office folks are usually in their respective space, whether it’s an office or a cubicle, and job tasks are completed even though managers don’t always have an eye’s view of their employees. It’s the same, but it’s different.
Well, now that that is out of the way, I’d like to share a few tips that I learned work best for me after working remotely full-time in my previous role.
1) Start Like a Winner. Shine Like a Sprinter.
In track and field, one of the most important parts of your race is the start. Back in the day, I ran track for a season. That’s right, singular. Haha. However, I do remember how my coaches stressed the significance of the start within each race, especially as a sprinter. If you stumbled out the running blocks, the race would be over in the blink of an eye, and your opponent would secure the win. Approaching your work day with the same mentality can give you a leg up and allow for more productivity.
In order to come out the blocks like a winner, you should still get up at your normal time. Don’t just roll out of bed 5 – 10 minutes before your shift and expect to automatically get things started. It doesn’t work. Give yourself time to wake up, brush your teeth, wash your face, and make your breakfast, and get ready to tackle the day. Remember to prioritize yourself and your mental health first, before pouring into others.
2) Pick a Workplace
Find what works best for you. Typically, when working remotely, people tend to flock to coffee shops and co-working spaces, but when that’s out the question you should find your sweet spot in your home where you feel that you’ll be most productive. Not everyone has a desk at home, and you should make the best out of what you have at the moment. Whether it be your couch, your dining room table, a fold-able card table where you pull up a desk chair, etc. Whatever spot makes you feel the most likely to conquer the day is where you should deem your work location.
A selected workplace with limited distractions will likely work best. Everyone works different. Some people love to listen to music, have the t.v. playing in the background, or have a white noise machine in the room. No matter your preference, pick a healthy environment. If you have family in your home, be sure to set healthy boundaries and let them know your work schedule for the day, and times that you will be unavailable.
3) Plan Out Your Day
The list. Create a task list to help get your day started. There are some folks that love structure and their calendars are set down to the minute. If you’re that type of person, that’s great too, though other folks just need a framework get them ready. Not only does checking off completed tasks make you feel empowered like a boss, it also allows you to get an idea of the pace that you want to maintain for the day, and can be a reminder when you notice that you began to slack.
Be kind to yourself and remember that you’re human. If you're new to working from home, it may take you a while to get adapted to the technology, and to find your stride. Know that some days may not be as productive as others, but that’s also true when you’re in the office. Learn from your mistakes, and get back up and strive to be better than you were the day before.
4) Check In With Your Team
We thrive off of human interaction, sometimes, and it’s nice to check in with your team to help keep you focused and motivated. Whether you’re working on a project together, or conducting a video or phone conference it is nice to lean on one another to help get you through the work day. It can also be an opportunity to bounce ideas off of each other and share tips for goal achievement.
Just like you would in the office, allow your mind time to refresh. Since you’re unable to get up and stop by your co-workers’ desk, walk down the hall to the office printer and most likely don’t have access to a standing desk, you’re losing steps and opportunities for physical movement. Finding time in your schedule to stretch allows for you to loosen up your muscles, and gets your heart rate pumping in a good way.
Continue to take your breaks like you would if you were in the office. It’s so easy to get in a rhythm and want to knock out work and the next thing you know you’ve made it through your work day without eating lunch and are entirely stiff.
Prioritize your health. Drink your water. Go to the restroom. Nourish your body.
6) The Food
Working from home can be tempting in many ways, especially through the tendency to overeat. Trust me, I know from experience. Especially if the work spot you chose is the dining room table, then you’re only feet from the kitchen cupboard full of snacks or that good smelling Crock Pot that’s hosting that lovely chili that would go best with crackers. Okay, maybe that was too much detail but a good bowl of chili sounds wonderful right about now! It’s easier to eat more throughout the day, simply because you have access, versus eating lunch and maybe one occasional snack.
I know that comfort food is calling your name, but resist the urge. When I worked from home, carbs were my best friend and I put on weight and didn’t even fully realize how much I gained until it happened. Then, it took me a good while to get that additional weight off and get back to my normal. The best advice that I can offer is to eat what you’d normally have the taste for and be mindful of trying not to overeat.
7) Log Off and Unplug
It almost seems like it’s easier to stay connected and always on when you are working from home, because you don’t have to close your computer and drive home. Remember that you’re a whole human and much more than solely where you work and what you do for a career. Allow yourself time to discover who you are and what you like to do at the end of the work day. Maybe you could read a nice book, or discover a good t.v. show, or a new recipe that you’d like to cook. Whatever the case may be, remember to unplug and unwind at the end of each work day and not to allow for your work life to carry over too heavily into your personal life. Get some rest and relaxation. You’ll be better prepared for the next workday and will thank yourself later!
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