Approximately 70 percent of people in the U.S. work remotely at least once per week.
Are you part of this group? Do you want to make sure you’re using your time wisely and getting as much accomplished as possible when you’re doing a remote job? If so, keep reading.
Listed below are the top five remote work habits everyone who works from home ought to start practicing. They’ll help you to be more productive and stay focused throughout the day.
Work from Home Challenges
There are tons of benefits that come from working from home instead of in a traditional office. However, this work setup is not without its challenges, especially for those who are brand new to it.
The following are some of the most common obstacles folks have to grapple with when they start working from home:
- Feeling isolated
- Staying motivated
- Managing time well
- Working too much
- Not setting clear boundaries around work
- Setting up an office that encourages productivity
When you first start working from home, it can feel like the Wild West. You can overcome a lot of these common challenges by establishing healthy and productive habits.
Remote Work Habits for Better Productivity
Here are some of the most important habits you ought to work on developing if you want to feel productive and avoiding falling into a lot of the less-than-ideal patterns that remote workers can experience:
1. Establish a Morning Routine
When you work from home, it’s true that you often have the flexibility to choose your working hours and decide how your day will be structured. In their fantasies about the perfect workday, for many remote workers, this involves having a leisurely morning routine that gives them plenty of time to get “in the zone” before their day officially begins. However, the reality is usually very far from this ideal.
Instead of waking up early and eating a nutritious breakfast before beginning work, lots of remote workers are scrambling, running from their bed to the desk or frantically checking emails on their phone while trying to handle other tasks like getting the kids ready for school and out the door.
If you have a solid morning routine, something you stick to every workday without fail, it’ll be easier for you to be proactive instead of reactive. This, in turn, allows you to feel more at peace throughout the day and makes it easier for you to manage your stress levels.
Sit down and think about how you want your ideal morning to look. Does it include rules like no checking emails or responding to texts for the first hour of the day? Be very specific, and then figure out what time you need to wake up and what other parameters you need to have in place to ensure your morning goes according to plan.
2. Choosing the Right Location
When they first start working from home, a lot of people find themselves leaning a little too far into the “I can work anywhere” mentality. They envision themselves spending each day at a different adorable cafe or banging out work at a co-working space surrounded by like-minded professionals. The cost of fancy coffees and co-working space memberships adds up pretty fast, though, and remote workers might find themselves staring down at their credit card statements with bewilderment trying to figure out how they’re going to survive until their next payday.
To avoid this problem, get in the habit of working in the same place each day. Set up an office in your home and designate it the work zone. You can still venture out on occasion, but your main work-from-home hub should be in your house. That way, you never have an excuse not to get work done (e.g., “there weren’t any good tables”), and you can save money.
Even if you can’t spare an entire room for your work, at least try to claim a corner of a room where you can set up a desk and store your computer and planner. If working from home is going to be the norm for you, you deserve to have a good setup. It’ll allow you to take advantage of some nice tax deductions, too.
3. Prioritizing Your To-Do List
At first, the freedom of constructing your own schedule sounds absolutely blissful. All that freedom can quickly start to feel stifling, though, if you don’t have a system in place to help you prioritize everything on your to-do list.
When you work from home, whether you work for yourself or are part of a larger company, it’s not always easy to tell what needs to be done first. Everything can feel like the most important thing, and you might find yourself failing to start at all because you have no idea where to begin.
To avoid falling into this trap of analysis paralysis, get in the habit of prioritizing your to-do list. There are lots of different strategies you can use.
The “Eat the Frog” approach (doing the least pleasant task on your list first) works well for some people, as does the Eisenhower Matrix (creating a grid that’s based on urgency and importance to help you determine when you should do a task, as well as whether you need to do it yourself or if it needs to be delegated to someone else). It can also be effective to work backward and name the items on your list that are definitely not a priority.
Whichever approach you use, be sure to use it consistently. Each morning, spend a few minutes figuring out which tasks you’re absolutely going to tackle. You could also do it the night before so you can hit the ground running.
4. Making Time for Uninterrupted Work
Traditional offices can be distracting places. From coworkers dropping by your desk to ask questions to constant emails and instant messages flying your way, it’s easy to feel as though you can’t get anything done.
Many workers also assume that, when they switch to remote work, they’ll be free from all interruptions. Working from home comes with its own distractions, though. Even if you don’t have kids or a spouse demanding your time, you might have texts and phone calls coming in from friends wanting to get together. You might also have a very needy pet who thinks that you’re now available to play fetch with them whenever you want.
If you find that distractions are preventing you from being productive, you need to make sure you’re scheduling time for deep, uninterrupted work on a daily basis. Block out time on your schedule specifically for this type of work. Let your friends and family know that you’re not available during this time, and shut your dog in their kennel so they can’t distract you.
Doing this for a few hours per day will help you get more done than if you spent eight or nine hours (or more) trying to work while also fielding distractions. As a result of scheduling regular time for deep work, you’ll have more time to devote to your loved ones and do what you enjoy, too.
5. Finding True Work-Life Balance
It’s easy to assume that working from home will be the solution to all your work-life balance issues. In reality, though, working from home can make it even harder for you to find this sense of harmony.
You might find yourself working all the time, just because you can, and struggling to designate hard start and stop times for your workday. If this sounds like you, you need to find habits that help you create a better work-life balance.
The first step to doing this is to create a schedule and stick to it. Put firm boundaries in place and be sure to communicate those boundaries to people in your life (your colleagues, your bosses, your kids, your spouse, etc.). This might include using auto-responders for your emails to let people know when they can expect to hear back from you or hanging a sign on your office door so your family knows when not to disturb you.
Make sure you’re including regular days off into your schedule as well. Honor these days and don’t try to sneak in emails or other types of work. They are your days to rest and recharge. You need them so you can put your best foot forward on your workdays and get more done.
Put These Remote Work Habits to the Test Today
As you can see, there’s a lot you can do to ensure you’re productive when you work from home. If you’ve been experiencing challenges staying on task, try implementing these remote work habits into your routine.
For those who are considering working remotely but haven’t taken the plunge just yet, these tips can still be helpful. Keep them in mind so you’re able to hit the ground running when you secure a remote job.
If you need help finding the right remote position for you, be sure to check out our job boards today as well: