Now that we’re more aware about the necessity of limiting person-to-person interactions, and knowing that this might still go on for a while, figuring out how to Work From Home is more urgent than ever.
We’re not experts in work psychology, lifestyle coaches or feng shui masters, but before having our own studio in Seville, we worked from home for a few years. Actually, Blooming was born in our living room, so we can tell you a thing or two about Remote Working.
Although a few of us might be familiar with the intricate art of Working From Home, a lot of people are still struggling after having to transition, virtually overnight, from working in an office to adopting –and adapting to– #RemoteLife.
Here are some simple pieces of advice that can help you find the right work-life balance while Remote Working in 2021:
1. Create a well lit, clutter-free workspace
The ideal scenario is to have a room in your home you can turn into an office, with a desk, a proper work chair… and a door! But that’s not always the case.
If you have never worked from home before, most likely your living room couch or the dinner table is all you have. However, you can still clear up a corner to put your computer and create a clutter-free workspace.
You want to make sure you can sit in the correct posture, so look around the house for auxiliary tables, counter tops or even a stable shelf you can use to work standing up.
Move furniture around to get sunlight or a view. If you can’t get close to a window or the room is kind of dark, find a floor lamp or even a USB light with a cool white light bulb. Forcing your eyes will make you feel tired more quickly.
If you know for sure this will not be a temporary situation, we recommend you get a computer desk, a table top lamp, and a comfortable work chair. Your eyes, back and neck will appreciate it.
2. Don’t let pajamas become your workwear
It’s easy to let yourself go when you’re working from home. I mean, cozy pajamas should totally be accepted in society as workwear, right?
But the time you take to get ready in the morning prepares you psychologically to start your working day.
The best ideas come in the shower or while brushing your teeth, and it’s in those moments when you usually create mental lists and think about the things you have to get done by the end of the day.
Not to mention that video calls are more common than ever, and nobody wants to see you in your bleach-stained, have-had-it-since-my-teen-years t-shirt.
I’m not saying you should be in your suit-and-tie while working from your living room. In fact, your work-from-home attire can be even more casual than whatever you’d wear in an office space. So sweatpants are totally allowed!
The goal is to feel clean, decent enough to be seen on a webcam, and to trick your brain to have a productive mindset.
3. Before getting down to work, leave the house as if you were going to work
Another reason to get dressed in the morning (if you’re not already doing it) is to go out for a walk before getting in front of the computer screen for hours.
When you’re around the house every single day, indoors, sitting in the same posture for so many hours, the line between work time and free time gets blurred and it’s pretty easy to feel isolated or burnout.
Being outdoors, exercising and breathing fresh air will help you fight sedentarism and feel energized to start your day.
If you don’t feel completely motivated to leave the house, find an excuse: go get something from the supermarket, take your kids to school, go to the pharmacy… even just walking down your street listening to a podcast and back.
And always check for weather conditions and movement restrictions in your community.
4. Eliminate distractions
Avoiding distractions while working remotely is an art itself. Snacking, the laundry machine, your kids, your pet, that painting that’s not straight… There are so many things at home that can steal your attention.
So if you have a door to close, do it. Leaving all the distractions behind will help you create a healthy and productive workplace environment under your own roof.
If there are more people around the house, it might be difficult to make them understand you are at work, so let them know politely you need some focus time and that you’re not available during working hours unless the house is in flames.
Earplugs, noise-cancelling headphones with some instrumental music or white noise can also come in handy.
And unless your job is related, turn off your TV and your Social Media notifications. You wouldn’t have them on anyway if you were at the office…
5. Chores must not interfere with your daily work
Finding the balance between work and personal life has always been a challenge, but now that work schedules and chores at home converge under the same roof, things get a little bit more complex.
If you’re on a break, there’s no problem in doing small tasks like walking your dog or putting a load of laundry in the washer. But let’s not forget you’re AT work even though you’re IN the house, so make sure you don’t start loading the dishwasher and end up renovating the kitchen cabinets.
Again, is a matter of finding balance.
6. If you work with a team, you want them to know you’re in a working mode
Let’s be honest, most organizations were not prepared to go fully remote overnight.
They weren’t familiar with the tools available nor had created a remote work ecosystem, so there’s still a lot of uncertainty surrounding how to manage employees that are not physically present.
If this is your company’s case, you can use this as an opportunity to take a step forward and propose new ways to make Remote Life easier for everyone: new reliable communication tools, apps to organize and assign tasks, or innovative ways to check in on each other.
Whether you’re an employee or the one in charge, this will show your team you are fully committed to make the most out of Remote Working, are actively working (instead of loading the washer) and want them to hop in the same boat.
Communication is key. Use the tools you have at hand to tell your teammates when you’re on and also when you’re off.
7. Take breaks regularly, and don’t forget to eat, blink and keep hydrated
This might sound obvious, but the truth is that without having tight lunch-time schedules to adjust to or your colleagues around the coffee machine, we tend to neglect breaks when we’re working from home.
Breaks make you feel less tired at the end of the day, reduce the risk of burnout and make you look at things from a different perspective when you’re stuck in a problem.
Get familiar with the Pomodoro Technique to take frequent breaks while increasing your productivity. This means working on a task for 25 minutes (which makes a “pomodoro”, kitchen timer shaped as a tomato), rest for 5 minutes, and take a longer 15 to 30 minutes break every 5 “pomodoros”.
Don’t postpone lunch-time and keep a bottle of water on your desk to stay hydrated. Refilling is also an excuse to take a short break, just don’t over-snack.
Being in front of a computer screen for long periods of time makes your eyes feel dry, achy and heavy, and that is because we literally forget to blink. Rest your eyes for a few seconds every half-hour and use eye-drops regularly.
Find what works best for you to remember is time to rest and disconnect, so don’t use breaks to check your Instagram page or play video-games.
Btw, this applies to work in general.
8. Stick to your work schedule and go analog when you’re off
When we’re down to work and gain momentum, it’s quite difficult to have the required self-control and know when to stop. Especially when there isn’t anyone asking you to leave because they’re closing.
One of the many advantages of Remote Working is flexible scheduling, but this can backfire very easily. Again, most companies are still trying to figure out what it means to have their employees away, so they might assume they can ask you anything anytime just because you’re close to your computer.
Resting is vital to make Remote Working viable. If you are always on, you’ll end up having these endless weeks and you’ll burnout in a minute.
So avoid working too many hours by sticking to your schedule. That means that you’ll only do work-related tasks, answer calls or emails and have meetings on weekdays, within business hours.
Going completely analog at night and during the weekends is the best remedy to dodge work anxiety, but if you can’t definitely live without technology, try separating work devices from personal devices.
9. Take a walk as if you were coming back from work
At the end of the day, turn all your devices off and leave the house. Spending some time outdoors after work to exercise and breathe some fresh air will help you release some of the steam generated throughout the day.
Allow your mind to wander and give yourself permission to think about anything. Have mental conversations with anyone (or arguments in which you’re always right!) or call someone you love.
10. Keep yourself healthy, both physically and mentally
- Eat balanced meals.
- Drink enough water.
- Get a good night’s sleep.
- Spend less time reading the news or on Social Media.
- Spend more time doing fun things with your family.
- Give yourself some “Me Time”.
Working remotely has so many advantages, starting with being able to sleep a little longer and not having to spend so many hours commuting to your workplace and back.
For a lot of people, it means having more freedom and control over their work/life balance.
But it’s also true that remote working requires much more organization, discipline, and trial and error to figure out what’s the best routine for you.
We hope these pieces of advice help you find the secret formula for your ideal life style.
Need some more guidance on how to transition from employee to freelancer? Pop us an email!