Staying Focused (And Sane) While Working From Home
There are a lot of reasons to like working remotely from home (or wherever). One of the biggest benefits is the flexibility of your schedule. In most cases, you aren't beholden to a particular set of hours. You can take time for medical appointments or get little Suzy to soccer practice when you need to. For those reasons alone, I love it. I also find that I can be more productive at times because I'm not get interrupted by all the normal office/workplace things.
It is a double-edged sword, however.
One, if you do your remote work from home, you don't ever leave work. When most people get off work, they are able to escape and relax in the confines of their homes. As a remote worker, you're always there. And instead of wanting nothing more than to be home, you just want to get out of the house - which may conflict with everyone else in the home.
Limited social activity. No more face to face chit-chat around the watercooler or coffee machine. Now you are relegated to socializing over Slack or Microsoft Teams, or the occasional phone call and text message. After a while, it can be very isolating and lonely.
The other thing is, you learn to do a lot of work on the go, so you're always connected and reacting at a moment's notice. Unless you are able to set standard hours, you are almost always on-call.
While you have the flexibility to move your schedule around the bad part is, those are all distractions.
Not to mention having to contend with kids or pets at home as well. Then, you might also be tempted to never get out of your PJs and nothing could be worse for your mental health.
How to successfully work from home.
Make a schedule and stick to it as best you can. Don't lay in bed with your laptop and sit in your PJ's all day. Get up, take a shower, and get dressed just like you would if you were going into work. This is imperative for your mental health and focus throughout the day. If you are in pajamas, you'll just be stuck in chill mode and will have a tough time staying zeroed in your tasks. You're brain subconsciously associates things with activities, which is why it's also a good idea to NOT set up an office in your bedroom. That's a place for sleeping and other activities.
Schedule regular check-in phone calls with people you need to talk to on a regular basis. This way you'll limit random distractions from clients or employers. Also, don't forget to schedule some personal time for yourself as well.
Get anti-social. Turn off your phone/notifications off after certain hours. Unless your employee or client needs to have you available 24/7, there is generally nothing so important that it can't wait until morning to address. Make sure you let them know you'll be unavailable during those times though!
Get social. Sit at coffee shop or try out some co-working office. Go to trade-related events, luncheons, and other meetings in your area. It will give you a chance to hone your skills, network, and socialize with other professionals in your trade. You could also pass this off as a work event as well depending on your employer and get reimbursed for your costs.
If you work in the home and have other potential distractions like children, pets, or a spouse, make sure they understand that during certain times are your work hours and you aren't to be disturbed. I know, I know - easier said than done. My dogs don't care what I'm doing either. To them, it's always playtime.
If you have any other thoughts on how to maintain a good remote work/life balance let me know.
Joe is a freelance multimedia designer and is currently the Head of Audience insights for Jam Street Media, a podcast production company based in Los Angeles. Find him on all the social media places at @joestonemedia or you can email him at email@example.com.