Working away from an office can be difficult, particularly for those used to office life. Positioning ourselves for productivity and success in a new setting can take some effort. One challenge is to function without face-to-face guidance and supervision. Another is to keep the distractions of home at bay. Keeping our professional and personal lives separate is a key component of success as remote employees. Here are some ideas on how to achieve this.
Establishing a routine is a great start. Routine imparts order to every working day. It lets us become focused. Steven Kramer, psychologist and author of The Progress Principle, suggests, “Make a routine and stick to it.” Begin the day in the same way you would while working in a conventional office. Get up early, get dressed, turn off distractions, and sit down at the work desk in the right frame of mind. We should set reasonable targets about what we will achieve. This can be an iterative process. Some of us can take a few days or weeks to figure out the right rhythm for our day. Kramer recommends to “permit yourself to relax.” If you have to work longer hours on a job, plan for some extra spare time afterward.
Managing our hours can be easier or harder when operating remotely. It depends on individual management style, preferences, and circumstances. At home, we don’t have some of the constraints that limit us at the office. We also don’t have some of the resources. Remote work demands that we create a joint routine with our cohabitating partners. A good way is to figure this out at the start of the week. Decide each partner’s working hours. Divide the childcare and housework duties in a way that they don’t interfere with office work. Documenting the task distribution helps too. It can be on a social calendar app like Google Calendar or TimeTree or printed on paper (and posted on the refrigerator). Writing down tasks makes it easier to follow up. A Robert Half poll reported that 73% of professionals found this strategy helpful.
A manageable to-do list made the night before is a good way to set the pace for the next day. The key is to stick to it. Include both large and small undertakings on the list. Mention how long you want each job to take. Checking items off the list one by one as they are completed can be very satisfying.
America is home to millions of migrant workers. These ex-pat professionals regularly transfer money as remittances to their home countries. The most valuable quality of these professionals is their domain specialization. We do our best work when we give our undivided attention to the task at hand. Rachel Gauthier, practice leader of healthcare apps and resources at The Tolan Group, has mixed feelings about multitasking. She feels that it can have benefits or detrimental effects in different situations. Often, not being focused on the immediate task can result in a disaster. Bob Schafer, vice president of analysis at Lumosity, feels that “Multitasking can limit efficiency and lead to mistakes.” Doing multiple tasks at the same time is correlated with higher error rates and increased stress.
Finding our optimal balance
Working from home invariably comes with distractions. It necessitates that our office duties coexist in the same physical space as our household chores. Not being able to differentiate the two can be a challenge initially. It can eat into our work-from-home efficiency. Millions are working remotely for the first time in their lives. Some find it difficult to handle a workday that now also contains distractions such as in-home entertainment, household noises, and food smells. This is exacerbated by less direct supervision. A Glassdoor poll surveyed almost 1,000 Americans about their top worries about working from home. 32% said that TV was a major diversion. 27% reported that childcare was a big work interrupter. Good task management and self-imposed discipline are two of the things we need in large amounts.
Hemant G is a contributing writer at Sparkwebs LLC, a Digital and Content Marketing Agency. When he’s not writing, he loves to travel, scuba dive, and watch documentaries.