No matter in what industry you are in, many of us have become familiar with the challenges and benefits of working remotely from home. Studies have shown that remote workers can be more productive and profitable than in-house employees. Yet there is a learning curve to remote work, and those of us who have made the transition are discovering which practices translate from office to home, and which need to be reimagined altogether. One of the biggest considerations being how to create routines and boundaries when there is no longer a commute to physically separate home from work.
Easing into routines and setting up boundaries that help separate professional end personal is a recurring theme with each work-from-home, whether seasoned or newly minted. Here are a few takeaways for easing into routines and reimagined boundaries:
Creating a simple ritual to help transition to work, even without a physical commute can be a very helpful practice. Clear transitions are especially important if you don’t have a home office or a separate space to work from. A ritual can include not checking your phone the first thing when you wake up but instead taking some tie for meditation or exercise. In the evening, don’t check your phone after 9PM. It sometimes helps to start your day slower to “get your head right” before diving into work. Also, keeping to your “normal” routine of shower and breakfast will help get your mindset right for work.
Having a list to work from can reduce paralysis about where to start. Having a start-of-the-week brain dump on a Monday helps to clarify your priorities for the week. At the end of your workday, follow up on your list to make a schedule for the following day. You can pivot away from your agenda or delay an item if needed, but having a structure in the mornings helps knock out the most important items first. It also helps to assign different projects to specific days to increase your ability to focus on set client expectations.
Blocking of time on the calendar, even it it is for 15 minutes, to do something that is unrelated to work can help establish a sense of autonomy over the workday. At the office, you do not realize how much time you spend at your desk as you may just grab your lunch and eat in front of the computer. At home, take this time and cook yourself a healthy lunch and take a midday break.
Sometimes productivity may look like cleaning your workspace or preparing meals. Boundaries are important, but they will also sometimes blur. With that in mind, having two or three work-related tasks you can cross off to feel like you have accomplishes something helps. Prioritizing a few tasks that matter each day can relieve pressure and help you create momentum for the next day.
Self-care routines are a vital foundation for work and overall health, whether that means re-establishing an abandoned practice or starting a new one. Limiting news and social media is another way of self-care as it is not always helpful to have more information. Make time in the day for creative interests outside of work.
With the transition to remote work, the ability to create rituals and boundaries to separate personal and professional becomes more necessary as they are no longer built into a commute or a physical office. As we develop a practice for our individual needs, it can be helpful to focus on the small changes we can make in our day-to-day that will have a big impact: morning rituals, prioritizing our agendas, disconnecting for brief moments throughout the day, accepting that boundaries won’t be black-and-white, and most importantly, finding ways to nourish ourselves outside of work so that we can show up fully when we are on the clock.