For just over a week, and in some cases more, a number of us have been working from home. Every day. Without having chosen it. This is quite a change of setting, environment and sometimes rhythm (especially for those who had 1 hour of transport every morning and evening!). Some for the worse, others for the better: here we are remote working. Remote working is a bit like the intrusion of the professional in the personal life and therefore a new “work/life” balance must be defined. All while next to the spouse who is also looking for his or her own balance. While next to the children (with no school!) who need to be managed and tutored. And surrounded by domestic chores that could almost keep us busy full time. So how can we maintain our motivation on a daily basis and find this balance which can be a real challenge?
Given what we hear on the news, this “forced telecommuting” is likely to last longer than initially announced… Thus, here are our top 5 tips to keep it going over the long term.
1. Create a new morning routine
We humans are bound by habits. In order to change our rhythm and lifestyle, we must create new habits, new rituals, and new routines:
- “A healthy mind in a healthy body”: In the morning, soon after waking up, start with a little exercise. Push-ups, squats, burpees, or plank exercises; no need to go commando mode, a few sets are enough. Here are some good tips from a physiotherapist on Youtube.
- Then, get up, get ready, and dress (fully!) like a ‘normal’ working day at the office. This is an essential “conditioning” because our brain often needs a frame/context to get to work.
- Then, take the time for a proper breakfast (no breakfast in front of the computer!).
- Finally, allow yourself a quick – but effective – musical interlude, the last one before starting; you can choose a rather soothing music (closing your eyes) or rather … energizing music (clenching your fist).
2. Preserve your lucidity, oxygenate your mind…
To remain effective over time, a “remote worker” must know how to protect himself: protect his work phases and protect his relaxation phases.
- noise: keep away from all sources of external disturbance (if there are several of you at home, close the door of the room where you work. If you are near a fire station, use earplugs.).
- interruptions / notifications: deactivate all your non-business notifications (media, personal e-mails, personal messaging, etc.) and kindly ask the other inhabitants of the accommodation to leave you alone.
- news: free up time, at fixed times, to read and watch the news (especially during this covid-19 crisis, where news is permanent and often addictive!).
- meals: take time for lunch, and not at your desk; if possible go to another room and have your meals with others.
- parasite thoughts: throughout the day, write them down on a reminder to get rid of them … without forgetting them!
- breaks: ideally, take musical breaks, doing nothing but relaxing and letting your mind wander. Most importantly, avoid the Facebook or TV break – it doesn’t oxygenate the mind… it does quite the contrary. Anyway, get up from your chair and take a few steps!
3. Organize your time
Rhythm,. It’s all about rhythm! To be effective during the remote working, but also to preserve your health, well-being and personal (and family) life, take the time to define your schedule and stick to it (not just for the end of the day!).
- getting started: plan 1 fixed time for every day and stick to it
- breaks: plan them on a fixed timetable for every day and stick to them; 2 or 3 times during the day, and no longer than about 5-10 minutes in length
- lunch: plan 1 fixed time (beginning and end) for each day and respect it.
- end of the day: set this time in advance and stick to it.
4. Make yourself a work schedule
You generally (or very precisely) know what your manager expects of you. Then, it’s up to you to see in what order and how you will go about it.
- tasks to do: make a todo list for the whole week, which you then prioritize it for each morning for the day ahead. This is the first thing you have to do every morning when you sit at the office.
- be realistic: set ambitious but achievable goals for each day, week or month; there’s no point in disappointing yourself. Adjust along the way if necessary.
- concentration: alternate tasks that require deep concentration with more machine-like tasks; you will be most effective by giving yourself air.
- pleasure: alternate the tasks you like to do the most and those you like the least; it is by giving yourself “rewards” that you will succeed in making everything go forward together.
5. Take care of relationships
Geographical remoteness must never be synonymous with detachment or dehumanization. As you usually do in the office, at the water cooler or the coffee machine, take the time to take care of your relationships with others.
- with your supervisor/manager: plan regular, consistent 30-45 minute meetings every week; more often if possible. Set them in the calendar and send out invitations for the next 2 months.
- with your team (if you are a manager yourself): do the same with your own team members as you would with your own manager.
- give preference to speaking and videoconferencing: make as many live exchanges as possible (i.e., by phone or – even better! – by videoconference). This is much warmer and more efficient than e-mail. Seeing each other is very important to make contact more flexible.
- in writing: keep e-mails for reports and to forward information. In your exchanges, beware of succinct formulas because the written text sometimes makes things seem dry … and unpleasant. In short, put them into shape. Your colleagues will be infinitely grateful to you.
Author : Benoît Renoul
We hope this article will help you. 💡 If you have any testimonials or other tips to share to help people who are remote working, please feel free to send them to us: firstname.lastname@example.org.