Finding balance as a remote worker is hard. Distractions abound. They come in swarms of push notifications, the allure of hobbies from home, and the infinite rabbit hole known as the internet. Despite our best efforts, these magnets often compete with the reality of deadlines, team communication, and self-care.
Fortunately there are ways for remote workers to stack the deck in their favour, but it requires purposeful separation of work and life. Below are five tips to create boundaries when you work remotely.
Routine is what makes the world go round. It’s important to be consistent regardless of whether you’re rising before dawn or Skyping into a group video call at 9:00 AM. Regularity primes you for work in the same way that stretching warms your muscles before exercising.
Actions as simple as making your bed immediately after getting up, and doing the dishes before going to sleep can do wonders for the mental health of remote workers. Marking the end of a work day and the beginning of a new one with decisive actions allows for better definition between home life and work life.
It also helps to start each day with the same ritual, whether it’s making a cup of coffee or working out. In a world of shifting deadlines and project goals a little bit of self-enforced stability really helps.
Everyone experiences fatigue. The challenge for remote work is learning how to pacing yourself without the ebb and flow of the traditional office environment.
Remote workers should try dedicating a few minutes of every hour to a non-work activity that they enjoy.
This window breaks up the day into manageable chunks and lets your brain take a break from work. Leave your computer behind, hop onto another device to check the tour dates for a band you like, go for a walk to some green space and back, or make a cup of tea and stand by the window.
Taking breaks doubles up to counter the health problems which come from working at a desk for eight or nine hours a day. Repetitive strain injuries and problems with posture are just two common maladies from working at a desk. Bones need time to stretch and our wrists need time to relax.
Moving about, even if it’s just to the couch or the front door, is an important way to break up the day, pace yourself, and stay healthy.
People are great at building associations between activities and objects. Modern remote workers use their phones, tablets, and laptops to connect with employers, clients, and friends every day.
What we use a device for tends to influence how we use it next. If you use your work computer to watch Netflix after a hard day you will be more likely to think about watching Netflix the next morning when you boot it up.
Designating one device for relaxation allows for your work computer to serve its purpose without acting as more of a distraction. Leaving your phone by your bedside table and setting its ringtone to call only is just one simple way to boost working efficiency.
It’s been proven that maintaining a clean working environment does wonders for the brain. Who hasn’t experienced that nagging voice reminding them about the dishes, kitchen counters, and dusty corners behind the front door?
It turns out that people perform better when there are fewer unresolved tasks on the mind. Finishing simple tasks, the kind of household stuff which inevitably gets put off, actually improves our ability to focus on difficult, work-related issues.
Silencing this internal peanut gallery can lead to an overall improvement in work flow productivity.
Take Your Time
At home, even minor distractions are amplified by space and freedom.
The real problem comes when these nagging feeling and thoughts compound into an increased sense of isolation. Remote workers meet plenty of people online but almost never see these new connections in person.
This can make it hard to get out on the weekend, or on our days off to do the things which we enjoy.
Remedying this feeling comes from managing the space in which we work as distinct from the space in which we rest. This extends to how we use our devices and talk to friends. Getting out on the weekends, going to local coffee shops and talking with people, despite the difficulty, is tremendously important.
Remote workers that take the time to enforce boundaries will be happier in the long run, which makes for a better personal and work life.
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